Wordplay / 2006 IFC Films / 85 Minutes / http://www.wordplaythemovie.com / http://www.ifcfilms.com / 

If individuals did not know that this film was documenting real life individuals discussing a real life thing (Will Shortz’s crossword puzzles), individuals would likely think that this is yet another mockumentary from an individual like Christopher Guest. The absurdity of this topic is definitely present, and while this film has more than its fair share of humor (individuals like Jon Stewart are present), there are some big names present as well. When I say big names, however, I am not talking about Tom Cruise but rather individuals like former President Bill Clinton and former Senator Robert Dole. For those individuals that really get into these crossword puzzles, the retail version of Wordplay also includes five puzzles made just for this edition.

The great thing about this movie is that it does have a short runtime. While the topic is interesting and the pieces more so, over an hour and a half about crossword puzzles may have turned individuals off. Director Patrick Creadon smartly keeps this film terse and without much unnecessary fluff, and the film is made strong because of that. What I could compare Wordplay to would have to be Crumb, the somewhat-documentary film made in 1994 about the cartoonist Robert Crumb. What it is true that Crumb was a little more idealized than real life stories would portray eir, the fact that both individuals have a massive cult following makes the films’ paths converge. The film may be a documentary, but this is a documentary that could gain wide release and keep normal movie crowds enthralled for the entirety of the film. The problem that I see with a lot of documentaries is that they are so specialized that only individuals that are familiar with the topic being discussed really can get “into” the movie.

Obviously, this film will never be as large or as popular as a “Waiting”, but I can see copies of this flying off the shelves fairly quickly. The use of vignettes that tie the film together is a little more compelling to me than merely focusing on one individual. Obviously, this film is about Will Shortz, but the cast of characters that are present during this movie draw the spotlight well away from eir and make this more than a one-person show. The commentary gives another viewpoint for which to see the film, and the deletes scenes give a more rounded out experience with the film. There are a number of extra features available on this DVD, and make this a must-buy for anyone who may be in to puzzles, or can appreciate a smartly-written and never dry documentary. Individuals will easily be able to spend the entirety of a day with this DVD in their players, as it was decided to fill this DVD with features that rival that of a super-deluxe-edition remaster of a classic film, in regards to the amount of material present. Pick this up as a holiday gift for anyone that does crossword puzzles.

Rating: 6.8/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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