7.4/10
3,440
43 user 87 critic

Wordplay (2006)

PG | | Documentary | 21 July 2006 (USA)
An in-depth look at The New York Times' long-time crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and his loyal fan base.

Director:

Watch Now

From $4.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Spellbound (2002)
Documentary | Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stars: Angela Arenivar, Ubaldo Arenivar, Jorge Arenivar
I.O.U.S.A. (2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Few are aware that America may be on the brink of a financial meltdown. I.O.U.S.A. explores the country's shocking current fiscal condition and ways to avoid a national economic disaster.

Director: Patrick Creadon
Stars: Robert Bixby, Humphrey Bogart, Warren Buffett
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

This Is a documentary about life and struggle of people for becoming professional gamers.

Director: Patrick Creadon
Stars: Judy Barbosa, Søren Bjerg, Michal Blicharz
Murderball (2005)
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Paraplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Stars: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Spend a year in the life of one of America's most innovative classrooms.

Director: Patrick Creadon
Stars: Erick Bowen, Rodecoe Dunlow, Kerron Hayes
Word Wars (2004)
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A look at the obsessive world of competitive Scrabble.

Directors: Eric Chaikin, Julian Petrillo
Stars: Joe Edley, Matt Graham, Marlon Hill
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games.

Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Mark Alpiger
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.

Director: Chris Paine
Stars: Martin Sheen, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson
Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Since 1978, Anvil has become one of heavy metal's most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts. In 2006, after a fledging European tour Anvil sets out to record their thirteenth album and continue to follow their dreams.

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Stars: Robb Reiner, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Tiziana Arrigoni
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A comprehensive look at the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war and its occupation of the country.

Director: Charles Ferguson
Stars: Campbell Scott, Gerald Burke, Ali Fadhil
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A profile of the noted and extraordinarily cheerful veteran New York City fashion photographer.

Director: Richard Press
Stars: Bill Cunningham, Anna Wintour, Michael Kors
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of ... See full summary »

Directors: Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith
Stars: Peter Arnett, Ben Bagdikian, Ann Beeson
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself
Merl Reagle ...
Himself
Tyler Hinman ...
Himself
...
Himself
Al Sanders ...
Himself
Ellen Ripstein ...
Herself
Jon Delfin ...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Herself
Emily Saliers ...
Herself
...
Himself
Mike Mussina ...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself (as William Jefferson Clinton)
Edit

Storyline

A documentary that focuses on the world of crossword puzzles: those that construct them, those that love to solve them, those that compete in the annual Crossword competition in Stamford and also on Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword since the early 1990s. Shortz actually has a university degree in games and organized the first crossword championship in 1978. Some of the contributors to the Times puzzle explain how they go about building them while some aficionados, including former President Bill Clinton and comedian Jon Stewart talk about their love of solving them. The film also introduces several past champions and near champions competing in the 2006 tournament and it takes you from the preliminary rounds to the final where the top three contestants compete in front of a room full of admiring contestants. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A wildly entertaining documentary about crossword puzzles, the people who make them and the people who love them See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some language and mild thematic elements | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

|

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 July 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Word Play  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$32,847 (USA) (16 June 2006)

Gross:

$3,117,666 (USA) (20 October 2006)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Tyler Hinman would eventually work for Google for a few years. See more »

Quotes

Merl Reagle: [On why bodily functions and other possible unpleasant words have been banned from the NY Times crosswords] They're sitting there relaxing and here comes RECTAL? I don't think so.
See more »

Connections

References Never on Sunday (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

If You Don't Come Across
written by Vic Fleming
performed by Sean O'Malley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
a delight for linguists and fans of words, not bad for everyone else
9 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Crossword puzzles, and the many people who make them popular, are the focus in Wordplay, including the editor of the NY Times puzzle (the most notorious of them in the USA), celebrities and politicians, and the general public obsessed with them. As a documentary Wordplay is good, not great, film-making about its subject with a couple of montages and interlocking scenes that are weak. But the subject matter, and usually how its presented, sparks a fine interest even in a non-crossword puzzle player like myself. As words are all that we have to work with in communication and just everyday discourse, it's also attached here to the idea of testing, of competition, and how different and varying crosswords can get. Like the documentary Spellbound from a few years back, the director is also after the kind of irony of making such an isolated experience of finishing a puzzle into an event with hundreds of players once a year with friendships and acquaintances- a social event as much as a match-up.

Many parts are amusing as well; we get interviews from Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and the editor of NY Times Crossword himself, Will Shortz, and they all give some insightful, funny little bits of interest into making the puzzles and playing them. But for the most part we're into the mind-set of several key players, real people whom will all come together for the tournament in Jaunary. What makes all of this work, and what actually makes crossword puzzles become good enough for cinema, is watching smart people, un-cluttered for the most part with problems, who can focus all of their attentions on this one activity, to the point of obsessive compulsive behavior. It's really fun, in a nerdy way, trying to guess some of these words (or rather watching them guessing the words) along with the players. And the way the puzzles are created sparks a little interest too, as it's one of those parts of life I myself could never, ever accomplish. Worth a look, though probably more so for fans of the activity.


16 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page