Sep 2, 2022

Critical Thinking (2020)

Critical Thinking is a 2020 American biographical drama film directed by John Leguizamo based on the true story of the 1998 Miami Jackson High School chess team. Critical Thinking was written by Dito Montiel, and stars Leguizamo alongside Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Angel Bismark Curiel, Will Hochman, Corwin Tuggles, Jeffry Batista, Ramses Jimenez, Rachel Bay Jones and Michael K. Williams.

Miami - 1998. Poverty, broken families, and a prejudiced system push underprivileged youth to the fringes of society. But for a magnetic group of teens, there's a reprieve. A game where it's not about where you come from, but how you play. That equalizer is chess. Mr. "T" Martinez, a chess militant and passionate coach, leads them to a completely foreign field of battle.
Freddy and Krasnaya Movie Review

F: Well, well, well, fourth movie of the week with our funny man, John Leguizamo, and this time we have a biopic directed by him in which he also has the main role as professor Mario Martinez, who's responsible for taking a chess club team of misfit students to a national chess championship where they end up _______! ๐Ÿคจ

I have to tell you that I was scared that I was watching a bad movie after 15 minutes in. The young actors weren't convincing and something that I can't point out right now didn't make the movie look very good, an aura of amateurism seemed to be present. When Leguizamo started making jokes in the classroom similar to the ones I saw yesterday in his solo show (Latin History for Morons), I started to get really worried. But, even with all the dramatic clichรฉs of a biopic, I had nothing to fear! After a young Mexican student gets an unexpected fatal bullet to the skull because of a stupid argument, my attention became really sharp and all characters and events became very interesting. It was during this scene that I decided to inform Krasnaya that the film was based on real life events. It was nice timing. ๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ˜‚ 

K: Hello friends! Today we have the 2020 Critical Thinking film on the line. John Leguizamo took as a basis the real story of 5 boys from the Miami Jackson high school. Nobody cares about these kids, except for one person - the teacher Mr. T (Mario Martinez). John Leguizamo made a very inspiring and relevant drama. All the social issues that are touched upon in this movie concern us all today, every day.

Headshot GIF
This dude needs to chill... damn!
K: The cast is well chosen and John Leguizamo does his role very well. For me, it seems he was really imbued in this story, he played out real feelings, and his emotive scenes looked absolutely natural. There were some small setbacks for me. Some scenes from the film are practically copies of some parts from John Leguizamo's one-man show, just like you mentioned, Freddy. That was kind of strange to watch.  The young actors who play students ended up being really good. I empathized with everyone without exception.

F: Yes I was completely wrong with my first impression of these young actors. The characters' relationships with each other and their teacher build in a very likable way and I became very attached to them. I wanted to see them succeed, enthusiastically even, because of knowing that this was a true story. All of their struggles, personal troubles and achievements fully captivated me. And, John? He was really inspiring and was able to bring excitement to the game of chess! I couldn't have imagined that. Me? Interested in chess? He did it with this Mr. T character, and now I know what a zugzwang is! Leguizamo and the producers did a great job in highlighting such a triumphant real story and bringing a positive light on people who usually get a bad rep. John, with his late work, seem to be on a mission to put some balance on the racial and ethnic judgmental scales of everyone.

Hemp cookies recipe GIF
These guys know my favorite cookie recipe. Amazing!
K: The film goes into great detail about the mechanics of chess, and there are several scenes where a non-professional audience (me included) is lured into the intricacies of the game. The art of chess is well conveyed in Critical Thinking. 

I highly recommend this movie. John Leguizamo made a good, kind and life-affirming piece. This movie helps me preserve my faith in humanity. I wish that in our world there were more caring people like Mr. Martinez, who can help find the road to a better life and prevent young men from getting cornered at the dead-ends of criminal streets.

F: I was really surprised by the images in the end. Not because of the story, but because all the real people portrayed in the movie are fat as hell! Living the true American dream! I couldn't see that coming from all the skinny ass actors on screen! ๐Ÿ˜‚ (See GIF below).

This is a great and surprising movie and everyone involved in it is great, even if that doesn't transpire from the start. I think that the ghetto attitude of the characters is somehow exaggerated and they were just really nerdy kids to begin with. I have to investigate that! Anyway, go watch it and let your interest in chess begin! Recommended.

Critical Thinking movie vs reality GIF
From Chess to McDonalds champs ๐Ÿ˜‚
Freddy's Score: 79/100
Krasnaya's Score: 65/100





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