I first saw a trailer for Queen of Katwe months ago on Facebook and knew I’d be going to see it. I didn’t know what it was going to be about but it had me at hello. The beautiful African scenes and the emotion and love between a mother and daughter… Oh, and the fact that it was by Disney.
When I traveled to LA a couple of months ago I got to screen the movie way early, and sadly I’ve had to hold my Queen of Katwe review in until now. But the good news is, I got to bring my daughter to see it this week, so she chimed in with her review too!
First a few things…
You don’t need to enjoy chess to enjoy the movie
Growing up I was obsessed with Searching for Bobby Fischer. Don’t ask me why, I wasn’t a chess player (not a good one at least). But I was captivated by the story of a chess prodigy. I haven’t seen that movie in years so I can’t fairly compare the two, but what I loved about Queen of Katwe was the ability to witness the great leaps and bounds not only Phiona made, but her family and her team. There’s something extra special about the story of someone discovering what they were born to do.
What makes this movie special
There are a lot of feel-good movies about someone who comes from the slums and beats the odds to overcome their situation. However, Disney did a beautiful job with the cast, cinematography and screenwriting. Not only did the characters have a beautiful and true story, but the actors do too. This is Madina Nalwanga’s (who plays Phiona, the main character) first movie. A casting director found her in a community dance class.
Throughout the movie you can’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for what you have. Then the inspiring messages woven throughout the movie make you leave feeling so uplifted.
Before seeing the movie with your kids
Watch the previews. Help give your children an idea of what the movie is about before you see it, and ask them to take note of important lessons they learn from the movie.
Of course after the movie you will have even more to talk about (here some ideas for conversations you can have) as there’s a beautiful repeating message of perseverance to share.
About going to see it with you kids
I absolutely think you should go and see this movie with your kids. Open their eyes to a different culture and world than their own. You may think that because this movie isn’t a kid’s movie that they wouldn’t enjoy it, but I’d beg to differ.
My daughter and her 5-year-old friend sat next to each other, and though they were a little chatty at times, both of them followed the movie very well. But even if they don’t understand it all, that’s ok. They’ll get enough of it and you can discuss it together.
There are a couple of startling scenes, one involving a motorcycle accident, and another briefly startling scene with a flood. But it’s nothing that should be too frightening for kids.
Ok I’ve rambled enough.
Here’s what my 6-year-old says about Queen of Katwe
What was the movie about?
It was about this person who loved Chess.
What did you think about the movie?
It was awesome. I think I want to learn how to play chess too.
What was your favorite part?
When the little girl cried loud and said ‘she took my queen!’
Was it easy for you to understand or hard for you to understand?
It was easy for me to understand.
Did you think it was boring?
Not at all because that was a real story.
What that the United States where they were living?
No. Uganda. Far away from Texas. In Africa.
What are some of the things you noticed about Katwe, Uganda?
That they do stuff differently than us, they had to go get some water and bring the jugs back home. And they didn’t have a refrigerator. It makes my mommy grateful that we can turn on the water in the sink.
Do you think your friends should see it? Why or why not?
Yes. Hmm. Good question. Because it’s really good and I think they might learn a lesson.
What lesson did you learn from the movie?
Never give up. She [Phiona] felt like she had a dirty house and dirty clothes and like she couldn’t have nice things. But then she learned she could. So I learned to never give up.
There you have it, from the mouth of babes!
I’ll leave you with two more awesome aspects of this movie review.
Best inspirational quotes from Queen of Katwe
I made sure to bring a pencil and paper this time to catch these:
“Use your minds. Make a plan. And there you’ll find safety.”
“Do not be quick to tip your king. You must never surrender.”
“Losing doesn’t make you a failure.”
“Loses happen to everyone. But then you reset the pieces and play again.”
“Sometimes the place you’re used to is not the place you belong. You belong where you believe you belong.”
“Losing teaches me how to play better.”
Stay for the ending credits
Not just the beginning credits though those are AMAZING with the actors paired up with their real-life characters. But stay even after that. I don’t want to give away the surprise but trust me, it’ll make you smile.
Let me know if you and your family go to see it and what you think! My husband and I are going to see it together on our next date night. I know this movie will be right up his alley.