Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 1, 2012
    100
    See it, and I dare you not to care about what happens to these kids, these Yankees of chess.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 31, 2012
    88
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Oct 19, 2012
    83
    As inspirational academic stories go, it doesn't get much better than this.
  4. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Oct 17, 2012
    83
    It subtly makes the connection between the simple equation that investment in our children will give dividends that go far beyond any sort of number on a balance sheet.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 25, 2012
    80
    It's a wonderful documentary look at an astonishingly successful public-school chess program that manages to be more moving and heartening than you expect. Which is saying a lot.
  6. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Oct 20, 2012
    80
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 18, 2012
    80
    A sweet testament to the power of intelligence to win over adversity - even in a Brooklyn middle school where the majority of students live below the poverty level.
  8. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 18, 2012
    80
    It's deeply satisfying watching these public school, hard-knock kids win, and Ms. Dellamaggiore knows it.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Oct 18, 2012
    80
    It honestly makes no difference if you don't even know the rules of chess and have never visited New York; this is a story about human potential and the lingering possibilities of the American dream.
  10. Reviewed by: Nora Ankrum
    Nov 1, 2012
    78
    Set against a backdrop of deep budget cuts and high-stakes testing, this story makes an eloquent plea for the crucial but endangered role of afterschool programs in public education.
  11. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Nov 15, 2012
    75
    You might hope for a bit more depth on the kids Dellamaggiore profiles - perhaps she could have homed in on, say, two of them - but this is really nitpicking. The film is well made and genuinely inspirational.
  12. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Nov 15, 2012
    75
    The biggest complaint about Brooklyn Castle is that there's not enough of her. A presence as magnetic as Vicary's demands more screen time. How did she come to chess (a notoriously male-dominated game)? How did she come to 318?
  13. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Nov 2, 2012
    75
    Enlightening, inspiring and expertly crafted documentary.
  14. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Oct 19, 2012
    75
    Brooklyn Castle is an engaging tale, and the principal is wrong: These kids are much more lovable than the Yankees.
  15. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Oct 17, 2012
    75
    A great subject goes a long way in this standard but effective entry in the amazing-kids documentary category.
  16. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Oct 17, 2012
    70
    We also gain a keen sense of how chess in particular helps otherwise academically challenged kids find a way into their own brains.
  17. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Oct 17, 2012
    67
    Indifferently structured but centered around charming characters, the documentary starts off as a chronicle of the scholastic chess year, but becomes a compelling plea on behalf of the importance of afterschool programs.
  18. Reviewed by: Kalvin Henely
    Oct 18, 2012
    63
    It pays to consider even the small details of society's greatest investment in the future: our future generations.
  19. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Oct 16, 2012
    60
    If the film occasionally bumps up against the limitations of its "Spellbound"-like template, its refusal to ignore the social issues outside of the classroom proves it's more than simply a novelty human-interest story with impressive knight moves.

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