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Overall Rating
3.87

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look86.67%
Average: 13.33%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

7 reviews, 3 user ratings


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Wordplay
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by Scott Weinberg

"Eight-letter word for 'Lightweight yet very entertaining documentary'?"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Yeah, yeah, I know: "It's a documentary about ... crossword puzzlers?" I understand the skepticism. But then again, I thought the same thing about "that spelling bee documentary" (Spellbound) and "that Scrabble documentary" (Word Wars), and both of those movies were pretty darn fun to sit through. As is "Wordplay."

Will Shortz was so in love with the art of puzzle-making/solving that he pretty much created an entirely new field of study at Indiana University: Enigmatology, the study of puzzles.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that Mr. Shortz presently holds the position of Head Crossword Guy for the New York Times, which is a newspaper in which you'll daily find the world's gold-standard crossword puzzle. (Ask anyone who loves crosswords where to find the best/hardest ones, and NYT is the answer you'll receive.)

With Will Shortz as our host, Wordplay follows three basic lines: It gives you a brief (and fairly fascinating) history of the crossword puzzle, a series of visits with several of America's most famous crossword addicts, and a fly-on-the-wall journey to the annual Crosswords Championship competition held in Stamford, Connecticut.

Well-polished and craftily constructed, this is a documentary that's at its best when sitting down with the various crossword crackers from around the country. Several of the puzzle-makers prove to be self-effacing, funny, and seriously smart people, while the rogue's gallery of puzzle-solvers includes the likes of Ken Burns, Mike Mussina, The Indigo Girls, Bob Dole, Jon Stewart, and former president Bill Clinton, all of whom deliver some really great interview segments. (Not surprisingly, Mr. Stewart's contributions are brilliantly funny.)

So no, not all documentaries have to be about cancer, poverty, or The Holocaust. Some docos are content to be simple 'human interest' stories, and if those stories are told in a light, fun, and informative fashion, well, what the heck is wrong with that?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13597&reviewer=128
originally posted: 01/28/06 11:47:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2006 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/15/06 William Goss Contagious addiction mixes w/ quite the snarky streak to make for appealing crossword doc. 4 stars
4/13/06 Kathleen M. Sullivan Loved it - grea fun! 4 stars
3/30/06 Kvon Good look at average and astounding puzzlers. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 07-Nov-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Oct-2006


Directed by
  Patrick Creadon

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  Will Shortz
  Bill Clinton
  Bob Dole
  Jon Stewart
  Mike Mussina
  The Indigo Girls



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