Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

Brooklyn Castle

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Kids discover life on and off chess board in moving docu.

Movie PG 2012 101 minutes
Brooklyn Castle Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 1 parent review

age 7+

Uplifting...and accurate!

Excellent documentary! Having attended many chess tournaments, including some at IS 318, I can verify the legitimacy of this "story". It is truly uplifting for anyone who views themselves an underdog, and then achieves success at the highest level. I only wish the story continued to showcase their crowning moment...winning the High School National Championship as a Middle School team. Recommended for both the non-chess crowd as well as chess enthusiasts.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

By bringing the financial crash to this micro level, it's never been clearer exactly how much it cost, and after watching the chess team rack up victories, we see not everything was lost. Brooklyn Castle was filmed over the course of more than one school year, and the 2008 financial crisis looms large over the entire venture. Soon after the crash, the school learns that its budget has been slashed, and they may have to cancel some after-school programs -- including the chess team. Watching Ms. Vicary, the chess teacher, and Mr. Galvin, the coach/assistant principal, try to decide which tournaments the team must skip is heartbreaking.

That's why it's so satisfying to watch the team arrange a letter-writing campaign to school officials demanding their funding back and organize fundraisers to cover their tournament travel expenses. It's clear that chess isn't just a game; for these students, it can also open doors. Like Rochelle Ballantyne, who's hoping to become the first African-American female chess master and is also in the running for a full college scholarship. Or Pobo Efekoro, the student body president who spends his afternoons as custodian at the daycare center run by his widowed mom, an immigrant from Africa.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate