BASED ON a true story about seven-year-old child chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER begins with Josh’s parents discovering his prowess at chess. The Waitzkins hire a teacher for their son and encourage him in his genius. His father tells an indifferent elementary teacher on one occasion, “He’s better at this than I’ve ever been at anything in my life!” The bulk of the film concerns Josh’s early triumphs and the adults’ conflicts as Josh competes in one chess tournament after another, all of which lead to the big match where Josh has to reconcile his twin desires to win at all costs and not lose his humanity.
The relationship between Josh and his journalist father, Fred, is a touching one. When Fred recognizes his son’s gift, he wants to encourage his son but not push him. After Josh loses an important match, his dad lets him know “It’s okay, Josh; it’s just a game.” Noticeably on edge, Josh retorts: “No, it isn’t!” The movie’s subject is unusual, but its themes are universal: a child’s discovery of what makes him special and a parent’s loving possessiveness. These qualities, combined with excellent directing, acting and cinematography, will endear SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER to moviegoers. The film exemplifies the proverb “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:8).
(B, L) Positive father-son relationship in movie & affirming of child to bring out his best. Regrettably, two profanities mar an otherwise nearly perfect film.