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Wordplay (PG)





Release Date: June 16th, 2006 (IFC Center) by IFC Films and The Weinstein Company.
Directed by Patrick Creadon.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Will Shortz, a New York Times crossword puzzle editor whose fans devote much of their time to solving his puzzles and competing.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Wordplay falls short in terms of suspense, yet still remains mildly entertaining to watch given its subject matter. Each year, many crossword puzzle fanatics compete for the top prize in the American Crossword Tournament. Unlike Spellbound, which glamorized spelling bees, this documentary doesnít have enough personal interviews to draw any new fans into the subculture of crossword puzzle aficionados. On the other hand, those who are already part of this subculture will be able to relate to every moment of this filmóbut it still doesnít mean they will find any suspense like in Spellbound. Director Patrick Creadon interviews Merl Reagle and provides an interesting glimpse into how he constructs the various crossword puzzles for the New York Times. Editor Will Shortz expects each puzzle to have a different difficulty level for each day of the week, so, by no means is his task easy. Brief interviews with Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart, Mike Messina, and the Indigo Girls all prove the same point: celebrities can enjoy crossword puzzles, too. So what? The final thirty minutes consists of the American Crossword Tournament, but itís no fun or engaging when you donít really care who wins or loses. On a positive note, the cinematography and editing are both impressive.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Redundant and not enough personal interviews.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3

IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining, but not enough interviews, insight, or suspense.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD


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