The script's cliche/weak, and lacks the overt drama of better 'teacher' films. Nevertheless, the story of David MacEnulty's nationally successful, baked-from-scratch scholastic chess team within one of the most underprivileged school districts in America is indeed a story well worth telling and viewing.
Not surprisingly, the studios balked on this property, shopped for years before finding production under A&E's made-for-television moniker. The sadder, untold ending is MacEnulty was eventually baited away to run chess at Manhattan's prestigious Dalton School.
As a once organizer (and player) of scholastic chess, I can attest that the ideas dramatized herein are true enough. Young students WILL find chess fascinating and initially attain significant skill simply through practice. Chess IS a leveler; reasonably smart students lacking resources (such as private coaches) CAN challenge and defeat those who have them. Students ARE mesmerized by the trophies that represent their intellectual achievement. Involvement in scholastic chess DOES positively impact academics: it instills physical and intellectual focus, practices logical/spatial reasoning, teaches that concentration/study and practice is not meaningless work but rather eventually leads to REAL outcomes/improvement.
And yes, there is often administrative resistance. Chess pulls no gate, hence financial backing is a major issue, though chess costs far less than most sports. Chess is not status quo curriculum, so it's allotted no time or respect. Advocacy by parents and outsiders is key. Within two years, my own "high-need, urban high school" chess program went from scratch to competitive, running active tournaments, interesting over 100 students, taking some state/national trophies, after which a district-wide program was implemented and a full-time chess master hired.
Scholastic chess CAN work wonders for K-12 students; watch this film - and then imagine what it can do for your children and your schools.