Parents' Guide to

Searching for Bobby Fischer

By Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Young chess prodigy learns about sportsmanship.

Movie PG 2002 111 minutes
Searching for Bobby Fischer Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 7+

Inspirational for young potential chess players and those intrigued by it

Inspiring fir potential young chess players, depicts truths about effort, confidence , sportsmanship , integrity and family . Being true is all the more remarkable . Most children are not chess prodigies but it could spark an interest in learning the game and grasping the patience involved to learn strategy .
age 8+

Searching For Bobby Fischer – A Surprising Find

Interesting writer Steven Zaillian’s (A Civil Action, Schindler’s List) first directorial effort is little short of a landmark achievement. This searching drama works on many psychological levels but places its understanding of humanity above its technical achievements – giving both an equal serve of due importance. As with all child prodigies, there’s always much to unpack in balancing the acute levels of talent with the all-important social interactions. This based-on-fact study of a young Chess champion hooks the viewer into considering just where this young soul may end up in his future life. As the title implies we get to see the polarizing effects such astounding talent can unleash on the often, precarious levels of sanity, for the extremely gifted (or might it be afflicted?) - the fascinating story of enigmatic Bobby Fisher is told via inserted newsreel footage. Here is a film that can be equally enjoyed by the Chess ignorant or the guru. Conrad Hall’s Award-winning cinematography seems a little cramped (as if tailored to suit a TV screen of its day) compared to much of his other works, but is clearly suited to this subject. Even though some facts are modified (as with all screenplays), the cast is made up of wall-to-wall talent making it constantly compelling viewing. It’s also odd to find a full-blown music score accompanying an introspective subject, but the late great James Horner leaves his trademark elevations to add a higher dimension to the proceedings. Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I came to this classic late, but glad to now regard it as a firm favorite. It’s a production that deserves a larger audience.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10 ):
Kids say (4 ):

It takes confidence and loads of talent to make a movie about a boy who plays chess, and to make it riveting, but Steven Zaillian's directorial debut does just that. There are no clenched fists here, hardly a raised voice, and yet the movie is mesmerizing. There's a true sense of wonder in the scenes of Josh watching the chess players in the park, absorbing the intricacies of the game. That wonder is potent enough to spark an interest in young viewers, and encourage adults to take the board down from that dusty closet shelf. But an understanding of chess isn't vital to appreciating the movie, although a vague understanding does heighten the drama.

The characters, even the sideliners, are compelling, and a good streak of humor runs through the movie, especially in competition scenes when the nervous chess parents act less mature than their children.

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