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Brooklyn Castle Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    See it, and I dare you not to care about what happens to these kids, these Yankees of chess.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    A great subject goes a long way in this standard but effective entry in the amazing-kids documentary category.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter John DeFore

    The feel-good documentary is engaging enough to draw a respectable audience at arthouses, but distribs should work for exposure within communities like the ones this school serves.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Katie Dellamaggiore's inspiring documentary covers two years in the history of the school chess team, during which one team member, Rochelle Ballantyn, approaches her dream of becoming the first female African-American grandmaster in U.S history.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

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

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Brooklyn Castle is a documentary that follows the chess team of a public New York middle school, a largely lower-income squad who've devoted themselves to studying the game and have racked up a string of national titles. It's an uplifting tale with the strongly positive message that hard work will be rewarded. There's no smoking, drinking, or sex -- just chess and more chess (and very infrequent swearing, a la "bulls--t," from kids who are sometimes frustrated by the results of a tough match).

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What does it say about competition and teamwork? How do you cope with losing even when you try your best? What's the value of working together toward a common goal?
  • Are you surprised, impressed, amazed (or all of the above) that a bunch of middle-schoolers could achieve such high rankings in chess?
  • Is this movie only about chess? Or is there more going on here? Why does it spend so much time talking about the 2008 financial crisis? How does that relate to these kids?

The good stuff
  • message true5

    Messages: Hard work will be rewarded, if the students of New York's IS318 are any example. The school is largely lower income, and many of the students are the children of immigrants, but by devoting countless hours to the study of chess, they manage to excel, taking home many national titles and clearly demonstrating that they've earned their rewards -- in this case, admission to some of the most prestigious of New York's public high schools and even college scholarships.

  • rolemodels true5

    Role models: The featured students are all from lower-income, minority families and achieve greatness through the game of chess. Through hard work, focus, discipline, and then more hard work, they manage to win a string of national titles. It's about as pure an example of a meritocracy as possible, showing that anyone can get ahead if they put their mind to it.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not an issue

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false1

    Language: One junior high school student says "bulls--t," once.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue