Movies Reviews

Director: Patrick Creadon
Starring: Will Shortz
Studio info: IFC Entertainment, 90 mins.

Edge-of-your-seat documentary about… crossword puzzles?

Similar in structure to the recent movie Spellbound, Wordplay is a fun documentary about an American institution and national habit: the New York Times crossword puzzle. Wordplay answers questions you never knew you had, like where crosswords originated and how they’re constructed, and then—after a brief lull—it comes around to a truly exciting conclusion at the national tournament. Along the way it provides plenty of chuckles and a few little puzzles to solve, but most interesting is what happens after the filmmakers interview not only hardcore, competitive puzzle solvers who can tackle a Friday puzzle in minutes, but also celebrities who are fans of the Times’ puzzle, like comedian Jon Stewart, filmmaker Ken Burns, President Bill Clinton and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. What’s interesting is which group we’re made to identify with: the presidents and filmmakers, naturally. It’s the magic of cinema.

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