Screenwriter Steven Zaillian, who'd won an Oscar for adapting "Schindler's List," makes his directorial debut in the true tale of Josh Waitzkin (Pomeranc), a normal seven-year-old in every way but one: he exhibits an incredible aptitude for chess. Father Fred (Mantegna) and mother Bonnie (Allen) want to foster this gift, but must walk a fine line between supporting Josh and pressuring him. Kingsley plays Bruce, a ruthless former chess master who takes the boy on as a pupil. Will Josh become the next Bobby Fischer?
This warm, intelligent film boasts a powerhouse cast (including Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy, Laura Linney, and David Paymer in support). Young Pomeranc is convincing, and both Mantegna and Allen are a joy to watch. Additionally, in this ultra-competitive society that our kids face today, the film sends an important, often unheeded message about handling competition: that the will to excel and win should always be counter-balanced by mellower, more thoughtful interests, in order to cultivate a broader, balanced life perspective. For a touching, involving, and relevant family movie, search no further than "Bobby."