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Movie Review

Searching for Bobby Fischer is the perfect video for warming up the family den on a cold winter's night. Entertaining. Uplifting. Thought-provoking. This true story begins as 7-year-old Josh Waitzkin reveals an uncanny aptitude for the game of chess. What follows is a richly textured character study exploring the subtle tug-of-war waged among caring adults who believe they know what's best for the young prodigy.

Josh's devoted father longs to nurture his son's gift and see him succeed. Two mentors—who approach chess from opposing schools of thought—recognize the boy's ability and invest themselves in preparing him for competition. Meanwhile, Josh's mother strives to protect his sweet spirit and kind-hearted nature from a "take-no-prisoners" subculture obsessed with winning at all costs.

Searching for Bobby Fischer has recently been included in Paramount's "Family Favorites" home video collection. And well it should. The Waitzkin family is the most functional to come out of Hollywood in years. Among other lessons, the movie teaches about sportsmanship, unconditional love, discipline, trust, the pressure of high expectations and the need for children to be well-rounded. The dialogue is poignant and inspirational. And with the unfortunate exception of two inappropriate uses of the Lord's name, there's not a single profanity. The characters are complex, likable and worthy of close examination (families can discuss and learn from their motivations, interactions, revelations, etc.).

No knowledge of chess is required to enjoy Searching for Bobby Fischer. It's not a story of rooks, queens and pawns as much as it is one of a family's emotional journey. Yes, Josh Waitzkin is a brilliant chess player. More importantly, he's a decent human being. Because the film emphasizes the latter, this cinematic gem embodies the warmth, innocence and virtue of its young hero.

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Joe Mantegna, Laurence Fishburne, Ben Kingsley, Joan Allen, Max Pomeranc


Steven Zaillian ( )




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Bob Smithouser

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