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Wordplay - documentary DVD review
WORDPLAY Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Will Shortz, Merl Reagle, Tyler Hinman, Norman Payne, Al Sanders
Director: Patrick Creadon   Studio: IFC
DVD release: 7 November 2006   Runtime: 85 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1), Commentary track w/ Patrick Creadon, NYT crossword editor Merl Reagle, and crossword constructor Merl Reagle (Dolby Digital 2.0), Deleted scenes, Interview gallery, "The 5 Unforgettable Puzzles Ever" Featurette, "Wordplay" goes to Sundance, Gary Louris music video: "Every Word," "Waiting for the New York Times": A short film by Patricia Erens, Photo gallery

Written and directed by Patrick Creadon, Wordplay takes the seemingly dull world of crossword puzzles and makes an entertaining and delightful documentary out of it. This is the holy grail for those who sit in their kitchen or den and work on a crossword. The documentary opens up at the 2005 crossword championship at the Marriot Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut and goes on to tell the stories of the many people who make them popular, including the crossword editor of the New York Times, Will Shortz, and puzzle maker Merle Reagle. It also gives a little bit of history and follows some competitors as they make it to the finals.

Interspersed throughout the film are cameos from famous people - former president Bill Clinton, New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, and filmmaker Ken Burns. Along with these vignettes, what keeps this moving along is the light, fun perspective. Though the community has it devotees, this seems to have a less obsessive-compulsive aspect when compared to the Scrabble documentary Word Wars. With a runtime of ninety-four minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome, and along with some tight editing Wordplay stays within a realm that viewers from the mainstream can watch it without feeling out-of-place. A good documentary worth checking out.
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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