A Little Game (2014) Movie Script

Our story begins,
as so many do,
in a doctor's office.
You're 100% sure, Doc?
in my line of work,
nothing's 100%,
but I'm sure.
Oh, we're having a boy.
Which led to one name
being settled on,
a very popular name,
as it turned out.
I didn't do it!
Not you.
He bit me first!
No. Max Kuftinec!
Coming, Ms. Winter!
And in China, it's considered
polite to burp when you eat.
It shows
you like the food.
Max, your father is
picking you up early today.
Get your things ready.
Yes, Ms. Winter.
Max, it's been nice
having you in my class.
I'll be back tomorrow,
Ms. Winter.
Hey, we're just
checking it out, okay?
No decisions yet.
Obviously Max
is very bright.
What can you
tell me about her
that her test scores
can't? Hmm?
Well, uh,
Max has always been...
She's been a self-starter
ever since...
Sarah felt foolish reducing
their daughter to a bunch of words
that a thousand other parents
must have said about their kids.
We can't describe
what's so great about Max,
you know, any more
than I can tell you
what's great
about the color blue,
but you would be lucky
to have her.
What do we do?
I don't know.
She's happy now.
I know.
And even with
the scholarship,
we would still have to come up with
at least another couple thousand.
That's just this year.
Well, I could ask
for a raise.
They just gave you one.
I could ask for a raise.
They owe me one.
I guess my first question is why?
I mean, I like PS 41.
And you always tell me
how lucky we are
to have a great
local public school.
Yes, and that's true,
but you're the smartest kid
in your class
right now, right?
Well, maybe it would be
good to be somewhere
where you weren't
the smartest kid.
Someone's gotta be.
I know, Max.
I know.
Who knows how far
you could go in life?
We just want to give you
every opportunity to do that.
Right, and ultimately,
this is your decision.
But Papa and I
think this would be
very good for you,
and if you don't like it, you
can always go back to PS 41.
That's right.
So how would I
get there?
Okay. Well, you would
take the subway,
and Papa
would go with you.
When I can.
Hang on a sec.
What do you mean,
"When I can"?
I can't be late to the
restaurant every day.
No, I'm not talking every day.
I'm talking a couple times a week.
Well, how... this is not
what we talked about.
It is what...
I told you...
Look. Look. Look.
I'll just go alone
when Papa can't take me.
It's fine.
It's fine.
I walk
to PS 41 by myself.
I take care of Jez
by myself.
I'm not
a baby anymore.
Tom lay in bed that night
wondering if they'd made
the right decision.
Sarah wondered if she
was a good parent or not.
Max wondered
what the library would be like
at the Blackstone Academy.
Jez slept.
I'm going to a new school today.
I'm not
a baby anymore.
If I don't see
my daughter,
at least I get to see
my granddaughter, huh?
It's your fault, Yaya.
Fault? How?
You were such a good cook
that you made Mama into a chef.
You're a tricky one,
matia mou.
Your brains you get from your
mother, not from that one.
Go round and round.
Yaya's got
no energy today.
Come on. Tea.
Let's get some tea.
So, this new school,
it's better, right?
You know...
they're smart,
they take you.
I don't know.
I think it'll
be good, but...
Uh, I'm sorry.
I don't speak Greek.
You work
in Greek cafe. Why?
I don't know.
Cold. Tea ice-cold!
I'm sorry.
I'll heat it up for you.
In Greece, never serve tea
like that, never.
But it was steaming
in your...
Maxine, you don't
contradict Yayas.
Maybe they teach you that
in your new school.
But I didn't...
What I tell you
all your life?
If you make a mistake,
admit it.
Right. So?
I apologize, Yaya.
You're not a baby anymore,
matia mou.
You must make
your own decisions.
Like my Yaya said,
"You don't let life
happen to you.
You happen to life. "
Sounds better in Greek.
They're all freaked out
about something.
They said the last thing they
could do is give me a raise.
So what do we do?
I don't know.
We could take out a loan.
Not with our credit.
Well, we could borrow
money from somebody.
From who?
You want to go door-to-door
in the building,
ask people to loan money
to the super?
You gotta
get real here, Tom.
I'm gonna take
extra shifts.
There's no other option.
I love you so much.
There's nobody
who's loved more than you
in this whole world.
You hear me?
I mean, there might be some
people loved as much as you,
but nobody is loved...
I know, Dad.
Now go away.
I hate it when you need them
more than they need you.
Laura Langer.
You're new here.
Tom Kuftinec.
You'll be happy here.
It's a great place.
And 40% of graduates
go to Ivy League schools.
Not that we're thinking
about that kind of thing yet.
A new routine was soon set.
Tom would drop Max off
in the morning,
and she would come home
by herself after school.
Can't let things get you down.
Listen, things
will get better.
No, but I'm
telling you it's... Watch it!
No. It's
a totally great show.
You have to watch it.
What are you
Hey, Maxie.
Hey, you want
to come along?
I gotta fix
the lock on 16D.
Um, no, thanks, Papa.
how was school today?
Well, what'd you
do today?
Okay, I'll be back
as soon as I can.
You call me
if you need me.
There's a choice period
after lunch today, Max.
You might consider visiting
the chess club then.
There are other girls
there with your skills.
But I don't know
how to play chess.
That's okay.
They can teach you.
Do you have a book
that could teach me?
Heh. It's much better
to learn from a person.
The advisor
is Mr. Eckhard.
He's an excellent
teacher. Okay?
Before you came,
I was the third-best
math student in the class.
Now I'm the fourth.
And who might you be?
I'm Max Kuftinec.
I'm here
for the chess club?
What's your level?
I've actually
never really...
Mr. Eckhard, Max is
a friend of mine.
I'll play with her.
Well, thank you,
That's very hospitable
of you.
Let's see
how smart you are now.
Go ahead. You're white.
Oh, my God.
You don't know
how to play.
You don't even know
how to make the first move.
That's pathetic.
One day, I'm going
to come back here,
and I'm going to teach you some manners.
Yeah, well,
good luck with that.
What happened?
Why did she leave?
To be honest, Mr. Eckhard,
I don't think
she liked you very much.
I'm sorry.
Hey, kids!
Papa, do you think you
could teach me how to play...
Maxie, I gotta run.
Mrs. Rosenhirsch
has mice.
One of them's
in the bathtub
with Mrs. Rosenhirsch.
Okay, listen,
if I'm not back by 7:00,
get dinner
out of the fridge, okay?
I love you two! Call me
if you need me, all right?
Becky Langer.
Sophie Glass.
Isabella Diaz.
Max Kuftinec.
She's has a boy's first
name and a stupid last name.
I know it's
hard to do,
but sometimes you gotta
take a chance, man.
Yeah, I know.
you should go for it.
It can't take too long
to learn, can it?
I've always wanted
to learn another language.
Just find
the right guy.
Pick the one you want
to learn from.
All the little league
coaches are good.
Go away.
You're still here.
Fine. Let's play.
I'll let you win...
for a while.
Costs five bucks.
I don't know
how to play chess,
and I don't usually
talk to strangers.
Not talking
to strangers is smart,
but not playing chess,
that's just stupid.
What's 25 times 14?
Something tells me
I'm about to find out.
350. I'm not stupid.
But you're, like,
what, six years old,
and you don't know
how to play chess yet?
What kind of crappy school you go to?
I want to learn how to play,
and I'm not 6. I'm 10.
When I was 10, I was carrying
blocks of ice up 5 flights of stairs.
I don't think
that's possible
unless you're, like, 90.
Fine. My father
did that, not me.
But I certainly knew how
to play chess when I was 10.
Hell, I won the city
tournament when I was 10.
Why don't you use
that Google?
I hear it can
teach you anything.
I don't know.
I just had a feeling you
might be able to teach me.
Plus you're two blocks
from my house,
and you seem to have
some free time.
Well, kid, you gotta
play for something.
Any city kid knows that.
And these days,
I play for money.
Fashion show.
Fashion show.
Max, how come Mama isn't
home for dinner anymore?
Because she's working.
Why does she work?
So she can make money
for our family.
But Papa works, too.
Well, both Mama and Papa
have to work
so that we
have enough money.
Let's call Mama.
She's busy.
Then let's call Papa.
He's busy, too.
We should only call him
if it's an emergency.
Then let's call Yaya.
All right.
Hi, Yaya.
I'm good.
Okay. Here.
Hi, Yaya.
Matia mou, what your
little sister doing awake?
It's after bedtime,
Yeah, but...
you have an excuse?
Sort of. I mean...
Matia mou,
what I'm going to say?
You're going to tell me
not to make excuses.
I'll put her to bed now.
Good girl.
And you don't stay up late.
Nothing good happens late.
Matia mou, go.
How were the girls?
They were fine,
no problems.
Think they even
remember my name?
They love you.
Sweetie, could you please
remove my shoes at some point?
It's $5.00.
I get a dollar a week.
I'll pay you the rest
in two weeks.
At least you can do
a little math.
It's lucky for you
I'm such a softie.
But if anybody else
wants to play,
you scram.
You got it?
I'm not too worried
about that.
You hear me?
Yeah, I scram.
Whatever that means.
I'm Norman.
What's your name?
What's with names
these days?
It's like roll call
at a tenement in 1920...
Max, Samuel,
Zachary, Nathan.
I'm gonna
call you Shmuel.
I don't know if you noticed.
I'm a girl.
Come back tomorrow,
You, maana, aqu.
Why are you
speaking Spanish?
Because you don't seem
to understand English.
And don't use that
Google to learn anything.
You told me before to use it.
You want to learn my way
or their way?
Who's "they"?
Everybody else.
I don't know.
Whose way is better?
You want
your money back?
I won't use that Google.
Or that Bingo
or that Skitter.
I have no idea
what you're talking about.
Just don't.
I'll know if you do.
Now get out of here.
Come on. You can
help me with this.
Just play along,
Don't say anything.
Just look cute.
Look little sis,
it's Jeremy Lin!
No, I'm not.
It's Jeremy Lin, your favorite
person in the whole world.
You were so sad when he left
the Knicks, but here he is!
I'm not Jeremy...
Jeremy, it's so great
that you're here.
My poor sister,
she's been so sick.
Look, could you just
give her an autograph?
It'll mean
the world to her.
Look, uh, I...
Just one autograph to make
a sick little girl happy.
Here you go.
Thank you so much, Jeremy.
Hang on a minute.
That's not how
you spell "Jeremy. "
You're not
really Jeremy Lin!
Now look what you've done,
fake Jeremy!
You've broken
my little sister's heart.
Are you happy now?
No. I... I was trying
to tell you I'm not...
Look, you gotta
make this right.
Give me some money so I could
buy my sister some candy.
I don't know
who you think you are,
Jeremy Lin in public
and misleading
a little girl...
Here. Here...
Here's a five, okay?
I saw a 10 in there.
Fine, 10.
Give me half,
or I'll tell your mom.
Here is two.
You didn't
have to do anything.
Give me half, or I'll
tell both your moms.
Hey, how's that new
fancy-pants school of yours?
No way it's better
than PS 41.
I don't think
it's better,
but it's different.
Are the kids smarter?
No, but they're
more the same.
Of course they are.
They're all girls.
Yeah, but...
they're all
the same kind of girls.
Hey, look. It's
little orphan Annie.
Annie, I'd like you
to meet my friend Mel.
Except he's not really
a friend of mine.
And his name's
not really Mel.
I got
my allowance early.
I was winning.
you were winning.
I was six moves
from checkmating you.
I was four moves
from checkmating you.
Oh, you couldn't beat me
if I gave you a bullwhip
and Jake LaMotta.
I've been beating that guy
since before you were born.
That's not very long.
Okay, since before
your father was born.
You got an answer
for everything?
Most things.
Lucky for you
I love kids so much.
Let's get started.
What do you know
about chess?
Not much.
Do you know how the
different pieces move?
Not really.
Do you know what
each piece is called?
Not precisely.
Not precisely.
Do you know
anything about chess?
I know it's a good game
for smart people.
Now that is the first sensible
thing I've heard you say.
This is called a pawn.
It's barely worth
the space it occupies,
a lot like a kid.
Like a kid, a pawn
can't move very fast,
only one space
at a time,
except for
its first move,
when it can go two.
Like a kid, excited at first, then lazy.
Lucky for me
you love kids so much.
You're a cocky kid.
Where'd you say
you're from?
Over there,
in the Village.
I grew up in Brooklyn.
Now Brooklyn's a place
yuppies move to.
I didn't think there
were any city kids left.
What are you talking about?
There are lots of city...
Just living in the city
doesn't make you a city kid.
These kids might as well
be in Westchester.
Their nannies
take 'em everywhere.
A city kid, he's cocky,
but not too cocky,
knows how
to play things.
And a city kid sees the
way it all goes together.
You know what
I'm talking about?
I think so.
we'll find out.
You know why all
the best players
are city kids?
Because they're used to
different kinds of people
bumping into
each other every day
in different ways,
always changing,
just like
a chessboard.
What do you mean?
For instance, I already
told you pawns are like kids.
So this pawn is you.
You just started
a new school,
so you move forward.
How'd you know
I started a new school?
Your fancy new duds, and you
don't look very comfortable in 'em.
Only, you're not sure
about this new school,
so you only go one square
forward instead of two.
Once you take your hand off
the piece, your move is done.
It's my turn.
I'm playing against you?
You're not playing yet.
You're just
moving the pieces.
Come back tomorrow.
One move a day
is plenty.
One move a day?
Come on!
Okay, class,
open to page 41,
Today we're talking about
the United States of America,
but we're talking about
all of the Americas,
which includes...
Hold on
just one second.
Hi. Yes.
Go away. Go away.
Go away. Go away.
Go away. Go away.
Go away.
Thank God.
Max, your father wants you to
wait for him here after class.
Girls, enough!
Let's get back
to the lesson, okay?
You know, my bedroom window's stuck.
Maybe your dad can come
over later and fix it.
It's Yaya.
Listen, honey, I know
you're having a tough time,
but it'll get better.
I promise.
I was just
thinking about
how things always change, you know?
I was thinking about
how we're all born,
and then we get
older and older, until...
I can't stop
thinking about it.
I see.
Well, you know I'm always
gonna be here for you,
and Mama's always
gonna be here for you.
Not always.
As long as you need us,
we'll be here.
I'm gonna sit
over there for a bit
if that's okay with you.
All right?
That's right.
Another kid's
coming at you.
What do you mean?
This is you, right?
You've stepped out
on your own,
out onto an island
a little bit,
and you could move further on your own,
but that'd
be stupid, right?
Even you
can see that.
So you take
your best friend,
bring her up
next to you.
I don't have
a best friend.
Then any friend you have
at that new school.
I don't have any.
You don't have any?
Then you
better get some.
You can't win a chess
game with just one piece.
Well, there's
my little sister.
That's pathetic.
But you gotta
move something.
Not that your little sis
can help you much over there.
Look, your board
is your city,
and your city
is your board.
You understand?
Never mind.
That's enough for today.
Get out of here.
You can't just keep
moving your little sister.
Well, I'm thinking about
going back to my old school.
I have friends there.
They kicking you out
of that fancy new place?
No. I just don't know if it's
the right school for me.
So you're
just gonna quit
before you give it
a fair chance.
That's a great idea.
You're behind,
so you should quit now.
I didn't say
I was quitting.
Thinking about quitting
is the same as quitting.
Maybe you should just go
play checkers instead.
They play a lot of
checkers in Westchester.
Did you ever notice that Miss
Bailes looks like a walrus?
Heh. Not before,
but now I won't be able to
observe her without laughing.
Thanks a lot.
That's Becky.
She's got my back.
One final thing
about pawns.
If a pawn manages
to do something great,
if it gets all the way
to the other side,
then it changes,
turns into a queen.
So a worthless little kid
can turn into a queen.
Don't get too excited.
It almost never happens.
Okay, now that you're actually
moving more than one piece,
you gotta think
Yeah, you need a plan.
When you walk out the door,
you have a plan, right?
You don't
just walk outside
and wander around,
do you?
Uh, no.
So, what's your plan?
to move me
and my friends forward?
All right.
I guess that's a plan,
but you gotta keep
an eye on the board,
come up with a new plan
if things change.
But things always change.
That's right.
Things always change.
So what do you do
about that?
I mean, what if you don't
want things to change?
Forget it.
I don't know why
I would ask you.
Hey, listen.
Change isn't
a bad thing.
Sometimes it is.
Man, when was the last
time we had a date night?
I don't know. 1998?
Oh, it feels that way,
doesn't it?
It probably
has been a year.
That's so bad.
No, it's not bad.
We're busy.
Yeah. Everybody's busy,
but you make time
for the things
that are important,
and, you know, I can certainly
take a night off every six months.
You're not worried about
the babysitter, are you?
No. No, no, no.
She's fine.
Come on.
I told you
not to move!
You're a closet.
Closets don't move.
She's right.
Closets don't move.
Are you asleep?
Why don't you answer?
Don't wake up
your sister.
Go back to sleep.
But you're dead.
Tell me something
I don't know.
What are you doing here?
Sitting with you.
What, that's a problem?
Uh, no. No.
I got no other plans,
and I gotta keep an eye
on that lazy father
of yours.
He's not lazy.
Well... Heh.
Go back to sleep.
Still here.
You know, if you were
anyone else sitting there,
I'd be pretty scared
right now.
I mean, you're dead.
That would be
really scary,
to have a dead person
sitting in my room.
Mm, yes, that would
be really scary.
S- So are you a ghost?
No. No, no.
You know
better than that.
I'm just a pigment
of your imagination.
I always thought
the word was "figment. "
you don't correct Yayas.
Well, good night, Yaya.
Good night,
matia mou.
Hey, that's weird.
Look at Olive.
Why isn't she
with the rest
of her
catastrophic friends?
Go over
and talk to her.
You go over and
talk to her if you want.
No, you do it.
You're prettier than me.
She'll like you better.
Tell her you like
her drawings.
She's proud of them.
Cool animals.
any ideas
on your move?
Why do you seem
so excited today?
You're never excited.
Because I see a piece
that's been left out
alone to fend for itself.
So what are
you gonna do?
Becky's gonna take it...
like she took Olive.
I've been downtown,
like, twice in my life.
What's it like
down there?
It must be mesmerizing.
It's nice.
I mean, it's a little busier
than it is up here.
I wish I lived downtown.
And I cannot believe
your parents
let you ride home on
the subway by yourself.
That is
totally scintillating.
I guess.
There's no way my mom
would let me do that.
I'm not allowed on the
streets without a grown-up,
and she won't let me
ride the subway at all.
You've never been
on the subway?
Nobody I know
gets to ride the subway.
So do you want to come over to my
place with your nanny on Friday?
Uh, why don't we
go somewhere fun instead?
Home is so boring.
that's a stunning idea!
Your nanny can take us and drop
me off at home when we're done.
Uh, my nanny's no fun.
She doesn't do anything.
It's got to be
your nanny.
Gotta go.
Your dad has
a nice car.
You're funny.
The rook,
also known
as a castle.
A good piece,
useful piece.
Now go learn about it.
What are you
talking about?
Go out there.
Find a castle.
Learn how
the piece moves.
Let me get this straight.
To learn how this piece
moves on a chessboard,
I'm supposed to go look around
New York City for a castle?
And somehow that's going
to teach me something?
Yeah, if you got
your eyes open.
Look, you can
learn my way,
or you can learn
from somebody else.
Well, can you at least give me a
hint about what I'm looking for?
A hint?
You mean, like, is it
bigger than a bread box?
Bigger than an Xbox?
What's an Xbox?
What's a bread box?
Oh, get out of here.
It's gonna take
a little imagination.
Do you have
a little imagination?
I'm a 10-year-old girl.
What do you think?
Then stop
being so literal.
Chess player needs
to think creatively.
And don't come back
till you find it.
You need
to be inspired.
Sweetie, I am sorry,
but we just can't do it.
And I gotta get back
to work, so kiss.
Come on.
just one day.
Honey, we can't afford
a nanny. We just can't.
Don't you want me
to have playdates?
Or would you rather I just be a
hermit for the rest of my life?
Of course we want you
to have playdates.
Well, other parents don't let
their kids walk the streets alone.
Look, it's great
that you trust me.
This isn't about you.
I can't have a playdate
without a nanny.
Here's an idea.
What if my sister picked you up one day?
She said she'd be happy to
do it if we ever needed her.
No. No one has their aunt
pick them up. That's so uncool.
What do you care what people
think? That doesn't matter.
Dad, I'm 10 years old.
It matters.
I need a nanny
to pick me up,
not my Aunt Diane.
Why can't Aunt Diane
be your nanny?
Are you sure your nanny
is coming today, Max?
You could always just
come over to our house.
Oh, no,
she's definitely coming.
She's very reliable.
Mom, you don't
have to remain here.
I'm sorry, honey.
I know it's
embarrassing to you,
but I don't let my
daughter walk the streets
with someone
I haven't met.
Hey, Max!
Come on.
You have to be
my nanny.
Oh, yeah, I heard,
so I'm not your aunt.
I'm just your nanny.
Got it.
And you
can't be American.
Nannies are
never American,
unless they're
young dancers.
I've got a dancer's body.
in their 20s.
I've got
a dancer's body, okay?
This is my nanny,
Hi, Diane.
Uh, habla espaol?
Oh, no. No.
No habla espaol.
Oh. Well,
where are you from?
Oh, I from... I from...
Eh, I from Kazakhstan.
Jak sie masz.
Oh. Kazakhstan.
Um... Ahem.
So, Diane,
where do you take
the girls today?
Uh, I take girls,
eh, wherever
they want to go,
except if it not safe.
Then... Then
I do not take them.
Excuse me
one second.
Is she drunk?
Well, have fun.
Call me at the first sign
of trouble.
I mean,
can you believe it?
You know, I can't
believe he'd do it.
I still have
to throw things out.
He's watching the
decluttering show, I guess.
Oh, I gotta refill
my MetroCard.
I forgot my wallet.
Do you have
any money?
Your mom's
going to kill me.
My student MetroCard
can be used once every 17 minutes,
so we'll just wait for that.
No. I'm not gonna use your
student MetroCard, okay?
That's illegal.
Come on.
No one's watching.
They have
cameras everywhere.
There aren't
any cameras here.
they disguise them, see?
You can't trust 'em.
You don't realize that.
You didn't live
through the sixties.
Neither did you.
Come on already.
No, put that away!
Okay. Then ask
for some money.
Excuse me.
This is ridiculous.
Excuse me!
My aunt needs to borrow
a couple dollars.
You should be
ashamed of yourself,
bringing your little
girl out here to beg!
I could've taken
the subway by myself.
I do it every day.
No. Not when I'm supposed
to be watching you.
I'd never hear
the end of it.
"Diane, just 'cause you
decided not to have kids
doesn't mean
you can just... "
It's a castle.
No, that's a church.
You don't have much
of an imagination.
This is strange.
I'm going
to move him to here.
Then next turn,
I can capture the pawn.
Now I want you to learn
how to move the knight.
Listen, Norman,
this has been,
uh, interesting,
but you could save us
both some time
by just
telling me how...
I could teach you all the
rules of chess in two minutes,
but the rules
are nothing.
What's important is
how you see the board.
Now tell me
about the rook.
It sweeps across the board
in straight lines.
See? I'm teaching you
how to see
the whole board,
not just a single piece.
Anybody can move
a piece.
Takes a city kid
to make sense
of what seems
like chaos.
And I could tell you
that this is a good move,
but you would learn
absolutely nothing.
Is it better
to earn five bucks
or to find it
in the street?
Finding it in the street
would be okay,
especially if it kept me
from running around
like a crazy person.
You're not
a crazy person.
You're a weird person...
like most
good chess players.
I'm not
a good chess player.
Not yet,
but you
might be someday
if you learn my way.
I gotta admit
that was a pretty cool way
to learn about the rook.
How did you
do that, anyway?
So tell me
about the knight.
An unusual piece.
Moves very strangely.
Your board, your city.
So what am
I supposed to do,
go look for a knight
or a horse?
Figure it out yourself.
That's the whole point.
Don't let life
happen to you.
You happen to life.
Now get out of here.
You look like a knight.
Can I ask you
a question?
her name's Andromeda.
It's the horse.
That's what you were
gonna ask me, right?
Um, no.
I wanted to ask
how you, uh, move.
How I move?
Do you have
a special way you move?
I don't know what you're
talking about, kid.
Well, sorry.
that would've
been too easy,
but here's a clue.
You look for horses
that really move.
Hey, bug, stop running
back and forth.
You know how much Mr. Shawn
downstairs hates it.
Hey, Bug!
Do you want us all
to go to jail?
Kids don't go to jail,
Papa. They go to juvie.
What's that,
a math problem?
Sort of.
How long do you think it would
take to count to 30,000, Papa?
I don't know.
Couple hours, maybe.
Because that's how many days
an average person lives,
That's it.
And I've already
used up, like...
4,000 days almost.
Maxie, I...
I don't know
what to tell you, honey.
Nothing, Papa.
Yeah, Maxie.
Where are
those horses racing?
Oh, that's from today's
races at Aqueduct.
Where's Aqueduct?
It's in Queens.
This is ridiculous.
Look, I asked you
because I thought
you wouldn't be
scared to do this.
If you want to go back...
Please, don't play your
fourth-grade mind games on me.
Let's go.
So what's happening
at PS 41 these days?
Same as usual.
Oh, uh, there's
a new gym teacher.
Coach Z left?
And, uh, the new
gym teacher's a girl.
Wow, that's cool.
No, it's lame.
Whoever heard
of a girl gym teacher?
Oh, and the chess team
just finished second
at city championships.
Maybe I'll play
against them someday.
They'll kick your butt.
They're good.
I said I was sorry.
Could have made us
some fake IDs.
I'm sorry.
I didn't realize you
had to be 18 to get in.
Well, will you at least
tell me now why we came here?
We came
to watch the horses.
Of course we came here
to watch the horses.
To see how they move,
what direction.
They move around the track in a circle.
Well, it's not
exactly a circle.
Okay. An oval.
Please don't tell me that's
all you needed to know.
Only $1.00!
Get it here!
Get it now!
Get it while it's still on
ice, ladies and gentlemen.
So, moving in an oval.
You know, some people
might think it was a bad idea
to send a 10 year-old-kid
to a racetrack.
I didn't send you
to a racetrack.
You sent yourself.
It's a small horse.
You have to make
a small oval.
Think of a horse
in the city.
It can't
cut through a block.
It's gotta make turns
at the corner.
Try going
a different way.
Okay. I got it.
What's next?
I want to see
your diarrhea.
You mean diary.
Mmm, macaroni and dirt,
my favorite.
Not macaroni
and dirt, Papa,
macaroni and cheese!
Mm-mm-mm. I saw Mama
cooking it this morning,
and this is definitely
macaroni and dirt.
You're silly, Papa.
why doesn't Mama
eat dinner
with us anymore?
Because Mama's
gotta work, bug.
What's Mama's work?
I've told you before, bug,
she cooks for people.
She cooks for us.
Why does she have to cook
for other people, too?
Well, i-it's complicated,
It's not that complicated.
Jez, other people give her
money to cook for them.
Unless you have any money to give
her, she can't just cook for you.
I have some money.
No, you don't.
Yes, I do.
I have a nickel and
a penny and a dollar.
That's not real money.
That's just like...
Jesus, Max, stop!
Yeah, Max, cheeses!
Hey, hey, both of you!
The important thing is that
both of you girls know
that your Mama loves you more
than anything in the world, okay?
And when you eat the food
that she cooks for you,
it's like
you're eating her love.
That's kinda gross.
I'm not hungry
You're ready.
Make your own move,
any piece you like.
Are we going to play?
No, we're just going
to work on openings,
just the first
five moves.
But I'm ready
to play a real game.
I know how to move
all the pieces.
Fine. If you're ready
to play a real game,
then you
don't need me anymore.
I know
how to drive a car.
Doesn't mean I'm ready
for the Indy 500.
What... What do I move first?
What are you,
two years old?
Pick a piece,
and move it.
Brilliant move.
People will be talking
about it for decades.
Now, we already talked about
the Earth and the moon, right?
The sun is
4.5 billion years old.
Know what else is
4.5 billion years old?
Those shoes.
Hey, do you want do some
more exploring today?
Well, I kinda have
to play chess today.
I can play chess.
For real?
Like, can you play well?
No, but I can play
a little.
Great. Will your mom
let you come?
I told her your ludicrous
nanny was picking us up.
I don't think that word
means what you think it means.
You ever think about
how random things are?
I mean, Isabella could have been
my best friend instead of you.
I doubt that.
What I'm saying is
that everything in life
is just...
I don't know... luck.
Those people could have
been my parents.
That could have been
my grandmother.
Or I might have had
two dads
and maybe lived
somewhere else.
For that matter,
I could have been a boy.
I mean, why is
your name Becky?
Because Rebecca is
too long and boring.
What's your point?
Nothing. Come on.
Two six-year-olds.
That should equal
one 12 year-old.
We're not six years...
Don't bother.
Here's how
I'm starting today.
Pawn to E3.
Almost as earthshaking
as your last opening.
That's how you
describe moves.
The squares go across
from A to H,
and the squares up and
down go from 1 to 8,
so that square is E3.
Hey, I'm impressed.
You can count
to eight.
Just ignore him.
Not terrible.
not terrible.
Come on, Maxie.
Talk to me.
Did you know that the sun
is 4.5 billion years old
and that in another 5
billion years, it'll burn out?
I don't think we need
to worry about that, honey.
Why not?
Because we
won't be here.
But where
will I be, Dad?
Where will I be
in 5 billion years?
I don't know, honey.
But I can promise you
one thing.
Wherever you are,
I'm gonna be there, too.
How 'bout
a little beard scratch?
Yeah, honey?
I wish I didn't think
about these things.
I know, honey.
I think about 'em
sometimes, too.
But you know
when I never do?
When I'm with you
and your sister.
That must mean something,
Good night, sweetie.
What's going on?
I told him we could only
play the first five moves,
but he wouldn't stop.
We'll stop
when I'm ahead.
It doesn't look like that
is ever gonna happen.
Come on!
All right,
we're gonna play
the first 20 moves each.
Try not to lose
before then.
How were the girls?
Oh, fine.
Do you remember
when Max was born,
like five minutes ago?
I remember three minutes
ago, when Jez was born.
They're closing
the restaurant.
It's already done.
You know, apparently
they've been losing money.
But they offered me a
job at their other place.
In Boston?
No, no, no. You could get a
job at another restaurant here.
There's nothing
out there.
You know how many people
were coming in every day
looking for work?
It's just...
We are really lucky they
offered me this Boston gig.
Well, then you could
not work for a while, then.
Yeah, so we can not pay
Max's tuition for a while.
I know how to rotate
my schedule.
I can come back
twice a month.
The Chinese bus
is only $15.
They need me
to start next week.
Well, you thought
of everything then.
Are you mad at me?
You think
I want to do this?
You know, I think you don't want
to talk about it, is what I think.
What is the point of
going round and round?
You're gonna change
your mind five times
when we both know this
is the right thing to do.
Great. Fine.
Fine. It's not
like the kids
see you around here
anyway, so fine.
If you had a decent job,
I wouldn't
have to do this.
Who's awake down there?
What are
you doing?
You have
tiger scratches.
I also have a secret
I want to tell you.
I love somebody
in this room.
Is it me?
You guessed it.
Actually, I love
two people in this room.
I love you,
and I love Max.
You also love yourself,
so that's three people.
but I love you and Max
and Papa even more
than I love myself.
Me, too, Mama.
I can't stop loving you.
How'd I get so lucky?
Tell me a story, Mama.
Okay. What about?
About Cinderella, Ariel,
and Max.
And Max, okay.
Well, one day,
Cinderella, Ariel, and Max
were walking
through the park,
and all of a sudden,
Spider-Man went swinging by.
And Spider-Man stopped
as soon as he saw Max,
because he knew he needed her
for a very important mission.
I wouldn't
have done that.
So you've learned
how to move the pieces.
I've been
taking lessons.
I'm ready to play you.
Who've you been
studying with?
He can't be better
than my teacher,
Vadim Alexeyevich.
I'm sure you know
who that is.
He teaches me
in Russian.
You speak Russian?
Not really,
but he's such a genius,
it doesn't even matter.
why should I play you?
What's in it for me?
At this school, I'm here,
and you're here.
You're scared.
If you win,
I'll leave the school.
And if you win,
which could only happen
if I go into a coma...
Then you have
to leave the school.
Not a chance.
Then you have to stop
bothering me.
That's pretty broad.
I'll stop
insulting you in public.
That's acceptable.
Today I'm
gonna go first.
Listen, Norman, I need
to tell you something.
Tell me later.
Move first.
I'm going to play
a real chess match.
The hell you are.
No, I am.
I'm going to play
against someone else.
I'm going to play
a real chess match
against someone else.
I told you
you weren't ready.
Well, I thought I was.
Then I guess we're done.
Hey, Maxie.
How was school today?
It was fine.
Yeah? What'd you do?
The usual,
I see.
Hey, Maxie, do you
like your new school?
You're not supposed
to like school, Papa.
Oh, really?
At best, you're supposed
to tolerate it.
Okay, then.
Do you tolerate
your new school?
I tolerate it.
That's good,
I guess.
You know, parents,
they always think
they know better
than their kids.
And they do for a while,
but pretty soon you're
gonna be coming home
with math homework
that I don't understand,
that you're gonna know the
right answer way before I do.
You know what I mean?
I'm only
doing multiplication.
It's a metaphor.
I don't like metaphors.
All right, listen.
I'll be back
in a few minutes,
okay, honey?
You call me
if you need me.
Sleep, matia mou.
I might have made
a mistake, Yaya.
Everybody makes mistakes.
Your mother
married your father.
Why do you
keep doing that?
Don't worry about it.
Make the best choice
you can.
That's what your mother did
when she went to Boston.
She made her best.
You make a choice,
then go on.
Life's too short.
Compared to what?
What do you mean?
I mean,
compare our lives
to the life
of a spider.
They must think
we live forever.
Huh. You're right,
matia mou.
Life is also
very, very long.
So what should I do?
You know
what I'm gonna say.
Now go to sleep,
matia mou.
Karaniecta, matia mou.
Look, it's my life,
not yours.
I'm entitled to play
against somebody else.
the silent treatment?
Now who's
the six-year-old?
I need to start making
my own decisions,
but I'm sorry that I didn't
tell you in advance, Norman.
That was a mistake.
This is
not what I expected.
This is
your great teacher?
She called you
your last name?
It doesn't speak.
Why am I not surprised?
His name is
Norman Wallach.
Google dui wo
Norman Wallach.
That's my Tibetan nanny,
My parents insist I only
speak Mandarin with her.
I have
tae kwon do class now.
Let's play
tomorrow here.
I want Norman
to see me beat you.
I'll bring the clocks.
She's the one you're
gonna play against?
You gotta beat her.
Tell me about it.
She said she's
bringing clocks.
What does that mean?
Chess clocks.
You only get a certain
amount of time
to make all your moves.
It makes the game
move faster.
I always liked that you can
control how fast the game changed.
Hey, look,
chess is change.
It'd be pretty boring if
the pieces never moved.
But sometimes you want
things to stay the same.
You know that great
pizza place on West 11th?
I been there
a hundred times.
Seems like that place
has been around forever.
Yeah, it has been.
But sooner or later,
it'll close.
Every place has to,
You just have to enjoy
it while it's here.
with the metaphors.
Then listen.
You can't just use the
same pieces you always use.
Find new ones.
Look for one
that could be
more valuable than
you think it is.
You can't lose.
You think
you're gonna lose,
give me a signal, and
I'll knock the board over.
I'm serious.
Back in a sec.
Here's the plan.
I'm going to pretend
to be blind,
and you ask...
Come on.
I'll go 50-50 with you.
You're underutilized.
Come with me.
All right,
6 to 11/2.
6 to 11/2?
That can't be right.
All right, 164 to 41.
What's the count?
It's, uh,
10,016 to 2,504.
Or it's
eight to two.
It's about as simple
as I'm gonna make it.
This is B-ball,
after all.
I don't get it.
The city is going
to help me beat her.
Go ahead. You're first.
It's eight to two.
This is B-ball,
after all.
So, B4.
You know,
that pawn is you.
He's not allowed
to coach you.
It doesn't matter.
I have no idea
what he's saying.
Remember, your board,
your city.
That's the stupidest thing
I've ever heard.
You're a sucky teacher.
Go back to the suburbs
where you belong.
I'm from the Upper West Side, if you...
Like I said,
go back to the suburbs.
I'm sure they never heard
of the Mexican defense there.
There's no such thing
as the Mexican defense.
Says you.
C, C, C, C.
Pawn takes pawn.
I wish
I understood him.
Checkmate in three moves.
Unless you find
the one move
that wins
the game for you.
Hey, he said it.
I'm just translating.
You don't speak Russian.
I don't see it.
Look harder.
I don't see it.
Look harder.
You have 20 seconds
to make your move,
or you lose.
I do not get that.
10 seconds.
Take responsibility.
You happen to life.
Of course.
I'm going
to turn into a queen.
My pawn will become
a queen in two moves.
Then checkmate.
She can't stop me.
You're gonna win!
Put it down!
What's wrong? Is there
a problem with the move?
Enjoy school
without me.
Very good player.
I don't understand.
She's coming back
to PS 41.
Just when I was
about to win,
I realized
that I didn't want to.
You didn't want
to win?
No, I didn't want to go back
to the Blackstone Academy.
Nothing against it. It's just
I've got a fantastic school
that's a five-minute-walk
from my house.
I love it there.
It's my neighborhood school.
That's what a real city
kid would do, isn't it?
Plus they've got the second-best
chess team in the city.
Maybe I can put them
over the top.
Yes, I do.
You do not.
That means your wish
will, in fact, come true
- 18 years from now.
- Mama!
You're back!
Ohh! Hi, honey!
Oh, I couldn't be
away from my girls.
What, you're surprised?
I... I wasn't sure
I'd see you again.
This is the last time.
You don't
need me no more.
I'll always need you.
Oh, no, that didn't
come out right,
but you know
what I mean.
Thank you, Yaya.
Everything worked out okay
with your help.
You did it all yourself.
But I want to answer
that question of yours.
About why things
have to change?
I think I know the answer.
Tell me, matia mou.
Because sometimes
a great old pizza place
has to close so that
a new one can open.
I hate metaphors.
Say hello
to Norman for me.
What do they want?
They're trying
to convince me to come back
to the Blackstone Academy
after I graduate from PS 41.
You'll have your choice of schools.
They also want you
to teach them.
They're not
city kids.
Maybe we can
teach them how to be.
I guess I could
teach you all together.
Three six-year-olds
almost makes a grown-up.
We're not six.
He knows.
We'll start
Three kids at once.
I must be an idiot.
It's lucky for you
I'm such a softie.
Get out of here!
Hey, Shmuel!
Don't worry
about the next game.
Enjoy this one.
Know what I mean?
I'll try.
I'm going to enjoy beating
you, that's for sure.
You couldn't beat me
if I gave you a bag of
oranges, three hammers,
a baseball bat, and
the Brooklyn Dodgers!
Anybody want
to play some chess?