Box art for Brooklyn Castle

Brooklyn Castle

  • Rated PG

independent, special interest

Imagine a school where the cool kids are the chess team! This irresistibly uplifting doc tells the stories of five members of the chess team at an inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 8
Positive messages
5 out of 5
Positive role models
5 out of 5
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
Sexy Stuff
0 out of 5
Violence & scariness
0 out of 5

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).

what families can talk about

  • 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?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Brooklyn Castle reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: The message is that chess can motivate working-class kids to become better students, and though that's nice to know, the movie doesn't illustrate this theme in much depth.

- Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fresh: Castle is suspenseful, funny and, particularly in its depiction of the challenging home lives of some of the kids, moving.

- Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fresh: It's not To Sir, With Love: It's fierce ambition, the channeling of emotion, and hours of drilling.

- David Edelstein, New York Magazine, Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Fantastic, inspirational, warm-hearted true story--a can't miss documentary. Goes on a little longer than it probably should, but watching the improbable story unfold is unquestionably captivating. "Brooklyn Castle" is a documentary about I.S. 318 - an inner-city school where more than 65 percent of students are from homes with incomes below the federal poverty level - that also happens to have the best junior high school chess team in the country. Chess has transformed the school from "school in need of improvement" in 2003, to one of New York City's best. But a series of recession-driven pubic school budget cuts now threaten to undermine those hard-won successes. The second act of the film loses its sense of direction, but finds its footing again in the third act when the focus is on the kids and the intense competition of the tournaments. If you feel that the country's educational system is in a perpetual downward spiral, and no one really cares, be sure to give it a watch. It's sure to give you at least some hope for our nation's future. For additional reviews visit:

- fb100004905157511, Saturday, January 4, 2014

5 stars

I cried - and any film that manages to elicit emotions from this face deserves top praise. I found myself wrapped up in each of these children's stories, unable to turn away from the real-life drama going on in the school. Each person is a character, especially Pobo. I hope he runs this country one day - we need someone like him.

- fb1241416636, Monday, August 19, 2013

4 stars

Or the Nerds Shall Inherit The Earth... Such an inspiring and interesting story about a chess club team from a Jr High School in Brooklyn. There are so many stories here to tell, and they're all so interesting that the film never feels like its dragging. It makes a good case for better funding for schools without explicitly making the case. You care so much about these students and see how chess has helped them in their lives to be more confident and have better problem solving skills that you want every kid to have that. You don't worry about the politics of the issues or how the problem has to be fixed, you just want it fixed. It's a really wonderful film about how hope can change a community.

- fb704666045, Monday, June 2, 2014