It is a rare documentary indeed that makes for an enjoyable group viewing event, but WORDPLAY (2006) is definitely worth adding to your Home Projectionist list. Think three-letter word for jewel: This film is a G-E-M.
Brilliantly directed by Patrick Creadon, WORDPLAY delves into the smart and quirky subculture of the crossword puzzle. It’s a world of intelligence, humor, and passion populated by fanatic puzzlers, including New York Times editor Will Shortz (who actually devised his own college major in puzzling) and celebrity crossword fans such as Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, and Bill Clinton.
My father was a crossword fan, and some of my favorite childhood memories are of my dad giving me crossword solution insights and the scoop on good words to know. But whether you’re a crossword fan or not, this film keeps you entertained from beginning to end.
The drama — and yes, there is big drama — is centered around the dynamics of the 2005 Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and it will have you at the edge of your seat. Even a segment about the construction of a crossword puzzle is mesmerizing and provides more than a few “who knew?” moments. At the core of the film, of course, are the crossword puzzle enthusiasts themselves, a cast of some of the most eccentric, delightful, and engaging human beings you’ll have the pleasure to meet. (And their ghosts may still linger in the tournament halls.)
The DVD package for WORDPLAY includes additional commentary on puzzle construction, extended interviews with puzzlers, and deleted scenes. These extras can round out a great night of Home Projectionist entertainment , and you can even add in your own crossword competition at home with your friends.
Get out your pencils…and your projectors. WORDPLAY is a w-i-n-n-e-r.