Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Jul 19, 2013
    100
    The endlessly surprising, often riotously funny Computer Chess basks in the details of a group of men who, at a key point in history, are asking themselves not only if they can accomplish something, but why, and what it means to their current generation.
  2. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Jul 11, 2013
    100
    A movie which sits at the nexus between spoken and written language, the latter mostly of the programming variety.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Jul 16, 2013
    91
    What’s more, it’s fun, generating pleasure not from canned jokes or clichéd plot twists but simply from a sense of unhindered freedom.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Apr 22, 2013
    91
    Computer Chess excels at conveying the frustrations of feeling trapped by forces beyond one's control, the complexities of humanity irresolvable by any neat code.
  5. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 18, 2013
    90
    There’s even a shadowy hanger-on (played by novelist and journalist Jim Lewis) who may be a drug dealer or a CIA-NSA-type spook or both. That’s just one of the many ways that this profound, peculiar work of genius, this half-comic portrait of the present in embryo within the past, reverberates with hidden meanings and a questing intelligence.
  6. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jul 16, 2013
    90
    Peculiar and sneakily brilliant.
  7. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    Jul 16, 2013
    90
    So far the funniest, headiest, most playfully eccentric American indie of the year, Bujalski's perceptive avant-garde comedy...teases out unanswered existential and behavioral questions about mankind's curious obsession with artificial intelligence and automation.
  8. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jul 16, 2013
    90
    Computer Chess may seem like a novelty item, but it’s that and more, accumulating insight and substance without ever losing the fun of being a lark.
  9. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Jul 25, 2013
    88
    Shot on a vintage Portapak video camera that actually predates the movie’s early-eighties setting and painstakingly crafted to resemble an analog artifact from a bygone era, Computer Chess is, ironically, a comedy about technological innovation.
  10. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jul 19, 2013
    85
    The beguiling Computer Chess is about the dawn — one of many, but that's another story — of the tech revolution. It's also a reminder that you don't need state-of-the-art toys to make a formally playful comedy about man versus machine.
  11. Reviewed by: Emma Simmonds
    Nov 21, 2013
    80
    A winning mix of deadpan comedy, retro stylings and escalating insanity. Too idiosyncratic for some perhaps, but this one-of-a-kind indie makes ’80s nostalgia feel new again.
  12. Reviewed by: Tom Huddleston
    Nov 19, 2013
    80
    Low key and occasionally frustrating it may be, but Computer Chess is a supremely intelligent, beautifully constructed film, interweaving comedy and character, satire and subtext, and loaded with more ideas than some filmmakers manage in a lifetime.
  13. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Aug 1, 2013
    80
    Director Andrew Bujalski makes a serious play for his own place in the pantheon of hysterically pretentious pretend.
  14. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jul 16, 2013
    80
    What’s past is prescient, and what it all means is beside the point. Let’s just say Bujalski has made a prankishly out-of-time movie about that other AI: mankind.
  15. Reviewed by: Andrew Pulver
    Apr 22, 2013
    80
    Bujalski really has pulled off something extraordinary here.
  16. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Aug 21, 2013
    78
    It’s a query with no answers, a period piece about the present. It’s idiosyncratic, actively noncommercial, and doesn’t follow the rules – like playing a game of chess on a board with no squares.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 31, 2013
    75
    Computer Chess is deeply strange and occasionally impenetrable, yet it’s also surreally funny, with touches of science fiction that bedevil the proceedings with outré possibilities.
  18. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jul 25, 2013
    75
    At a certain point, Bujalski - the mumblecore meister, gleefully pushing the envelope of credulity here - jettisons the mock-doc pretense for a Christopher Guest-like glimpse into a strange subculture of the everyday.
  19. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Aug 1, 2013
    70
    It’s clever. It’s also occasionally a chore to watch, true to the boredom you’d expect to feel listening to computer programmers hash out chess logistics.
  20. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Sep 26, 2013
    63
    A naturalist comic of inarticulate manners, writer-director Andrew Bujalski attempts the ensemble styles of Robert Altman and Christopher Guest to peer into a micro-culture in Computer Chess.
  21. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 8, 2013
    63
    Computer Chess makes an affecting preservationist plea, in this case for a visual and material culture that, while not objectively beautiful, possessed its own form of buttoned-down passion — before it became obsolete by taking over the world.
  22. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jul 18, 2013
    60
    Better to stick with his slightly weird, ultra-focused nerds, who toil away on something strange and special, simply for the beauty of it.
  23. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Apr 22, 2013
    60
    Computer Chess is ultimately too slack and scattershot to work consistently well as a comedy.
  24. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jul 18, 2013
    50
    As an achievement, Computer Chess is laudable. As a film, it's missable.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Apr 22, 2013
    30
    Basically the film consists of a bunch of techies in white shirts and glasses laboriously discussing their views, exchanges you get the feeling the filmmaker thought would come off as humorous.
  26. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 18, 2013
    25
    Even for a mumblecore film, Computer Chess is weak stuff, a punitively dull chunk of quirk that is about, and feels like, being stuck in a motel with a gaggle of programming nerds for a weekend.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 2 out of 3
  1. Oct 14, 2013
    9
    It's a comedy there's actually a few big laughs, but not until near the end, so it's mainly more of a slow-burning thing. It's also at least partially a mumblecore film, which I didn't even realise. Wiley Wiggins looks a lot different when he's not animated and 10 years older. So if you don't like that, you're probably not going to like this. And I think you'd have to know something about chess to get it, but probably not much. I'm not sure how much the director knows about chess, but he has one of the characters perform a knight tour, so I'm guessing at least something. (Actually the closest thing I'd probably compare it to is Look Around You, but slightly less surreal at least at the start) Full Review »
  2. Jan 22, 2014
    2
    Just read all the Critics reviews and what a bunch of drivel. They just slop together mumbo jumbo to sound like they know something others don't. This movie is dreadful. Black and white with effects to make it look shot on an old camera, fuzzy and odd. The story and character interaction is boring bland and unimaginative. No laughs despite this being called a comedy, whats funny is that this movie was made. This is some hard core drug addicts boring dream turned into 1.5 hours of cr*p! Full Review »
  3. Sep 29, 2013
    3
    Unfortunately the director appeared to have very little knowledge of his own subject matter. If you're looking forward to seeing a strange disjointed dream-like tale that just happens to feature computer chess programmers, then this is. If you want a movie about chess programmers in the late-1970's, look elsewhere. Full Review »