Search - Wordplay on DVD

Actors: Will Shortz, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart, Merl Reagle, Tyler Hinman
Director: Patrick Creadon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Documentary
PG     2006     1hr 34min

Witness the inner workings of Will Shortz, NY Times Editor and NPR Puzzle Master, and his brilliant, entertaining and often hilarious contributors as well as surprising celebrity fans. Wordplay takes us through the Ameri...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Will Shortz, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart, Merl Reagle, Tyler Hinman
Director: Patrick Creadon
Creators: Patrick Creadon, Douglas Blush, Christine O'Malley, Michael Creadon, Patrick Walsh
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Documentary
Studio: Ifc
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/07/2006
Original Release Date: 06/23/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 06/23/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

George K. from COLCHESTER, CT
Reviewed on 5/19/2014...
A most entertaining movie, but probably not with wide appeal.

If you've got limited (or no) interest in crossword puzzles, have never considered the New York Times Sunday crossword, or find fascination only in obsessions that qualify one for TV spectaculars about hoarding or incest, this movie is not for you.

It's a study of a specialized bunch of nerdish puzzle enthusiasts. It's not unlike the marvelous spelling bee documentary Spellbound (which had far superior production value).

Like its subjects, the film is intelligent, earthbound, quirky, and focused, with no special effects or CGI. Nonetheless, the characters may strike the moviegoer as alien.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mamie H. (towncar1997) from TAHLEQUAH, OK
Reviewed on 1/21/2011...
This was a very entertaining Movie/Documentary. I had NO idea all the work that actually goes into creating Crossword Puzzles.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

The World of Crossword Puzzles Explored - Good Stuff
John R. Linnell | New Gloucester, ME United States | 08/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"For me, crossword puzzles have been a casual thing, I might find one in the airline magazine on a flight and work on it to pass the time or my wife, who is a much more avid fan, might have left a partially finished one about, which I will pick up and see if I can find some answers.

Those who appear in this movie find crossword puzzles to be anything but casual. And this is not about just any crossword puzzle. This is the "gold standard." The NYT crossword puzzle. You may genuflect if you wish.

As the movie unfolds we hear how the NYT graduates the difficulty of its puzzles from Monday to Sunday. We learn how they are constructed, how they are made more difficult, what the rules of puzzle building are and how crossword puzzles infect and afflict those who are addicted to them. Celebrities from Ken Burns to Jon Stweart are utilized in cameo pieces, some of which are very entertaining.

This all culminates in the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, CT where the World Crossword Puzzle Championship takes place every year in March. We meet some of the contestants, we are shown how the tournament is organized and the friendships it has engendered during the years it has been held and as the days pass we get to the "A" finals where three finalists try to solve a puzzle against time on large easels set up at the front of the room which will really draws you in to the genre.

Whether crossword puzzles are your thing or not, this is an entertaining and interesting movie to see. It did not encourage me to increase my crossword puzzle activity, but it sure gave me a deeper appreciation of what those who are hooked on it go through. There is something in this movie for everyone."
Pure Inspiration!
Pink Plumeria | Cleveland, Ohio | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Crossworders-quel subculture! I had no idea that this world was out there, this competitive bunch of crossworders, but I must say that I am indeed a better person for now knowing! The movie begins by introducing the audience to a group people who are the key players in an annual crossword competition held/hosted by Will Shortz, editor of the NYT crossword puzzle. In following these different people (literally from all walks of life-a homosexual, a mid-west family man, a college student, a single female) the audience almost becomes a part of their group. It was absolutely warming, to say the least (Ellen Ripstein has got to be one of my all-time favorite characters!). Oddly enough, rules of the crossword puzzle are given, and the difficult nature of actually solving one, especially the NYT, is revealed. After leaving the theatre I was determined to solve one (I am embarrassed to say that I started small and have finally solved a Monday puzzle, and am coming close to a Tuesday! It really is a new way of thinking!); it has been a really long road! Aside from being really well made, Wordplay was also salted with cameos from icons of American society such as Bill Clinton, Ken Burns and Jon Stewart. To watch them work on these puzzles was great-as well as putting their pants on one leg at a time, they (sometimes) struggle with the crossword puzzle too!

What a great documentary, and how fun to watch. In an age of vulgar and ridiculous entertainment, there is a shining example of entertainment revolving around a group of inteligensia. Bravo, and two enthusiastic thumbs up!"
John Martin | Stamford, CT USA | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have seen many hundreds of movies in my lifetime, and I must say, this is very close to being my favorite.
It is not a giant movie... it is a small documentary about one interesting subculture. While there are plenty
of famous people in the movie and that makes it more entertaining, the real heroes are ordinary people,
and the movie makes them all lovable when it could just as easily have mocked them. I am not
the least bit interested in doing crossword puzzles, but this movie is about a community,
both virtual and real, from all walks of life, that loves to do puzzles, and the movie made
me like *them*.

The movie uses brilliant visualizations to show puzzles being constructed and solved. Several
reviews in newspapers have mentioned the wonderful cover of a Talking Heads tune by Shawn
Colvin at a key point in the movie... I echo that. You will not be able to get it out of your head
after you see the movie.

I would not expect a documentary about crossword puzzles to make me laugh out loud and
cry in a theatre, but in fact it did both."