A family at its roots, the film follows the true story of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, a kind New York youth who teaches himself to play chess by watching other play in the park and rises to become the national youth champion. A story like this would have generated the money alone, but, unlike some of his counterparts in studio cinema, Steven Zaillian has never been content for a mediocre money-maker film. He brings in the element of family drama strongly showing how the relationshp between father and son is torn apart and brought together by the game.
Zallian's pen leaves no character is left untouched, even the villians in the film are stikingly human. The chess teacher is brought in as the man who pushes Josh but still loves him. Lawrence Fishburne is the Central Park chessplayer who unconditionally cares for the boy. Joan Allen portrays the mother who only wants her son to remain decent, and cares more about him than the game itself.
The remarkable human element isn't what surprised me about this film, it was it's ability to do so without sacrificing any of the interest in the story, which moves quickly through the 110-minute long film. Face it, people, writers just do better when a like mind handles their project. After all, he turned out his own film and I have only one complaint: the little kid can't pronouce an S worth a crap.
Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 11th August 1993
Box Office Worldwide: $7.3M
Distributed by: Paramount Home Video
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Mirage Enterprises
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
IMDB: 7.6 / 10
Director: Steven Zaillian
Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian
Starring: Max Pomeranc as Josh Waitzkin, Joe Mantegna as Fred Waitzkin, Joan Allen as Bonnie Waitzkin, Ben Kingsley as Bruce Pandolfini, Laurence Fishburne as Vinnie, Michael Nirenberg as Jonathan Poe, Robert Stephens as Poe's Teacher, David Paymer as Kalev, Hal Scardino as Morgan, Vasek Simek as Russian Park Player, William H. Macy as Tunafish Father, Dan Hedaya as Tournament Director, Laura Linney as School Teacher