Patrick Creadon

BY James KeastPublished Feb 19, 2007

Wordplay is essentially two cute little docs in one: an examination of crossword puzzlers — a unique subset of geek — and a profile of Will Shortz, the king of the crossword geeks as editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, the most famous in the world and Mecca for puzzlers. Like Spellbound for adults, Wordplay interviews famous puzzlers (Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton), and also looks at Shortz’s rise at the Times and the tournament he founded, a sort of world series of crossword puzzles. Wordplay for the most part glosses over the technical and mechanical aspects of puzzle construction, which makes one segment of this DVD really worthwhile; it examines five famous puzzles, who made them and how, as well as their significance. Social habits are the greater concern of the main doc — somewhere between observing these anagram-ers in their natural habitats and a feel-good "crossword geeks have friends too.” We learn that musicians and mathematicians make the best puzzlers (too bad for us liberal arts English and history majors), and that to be competitive, you have to be able to finish a really hard puzzle in less than ten minutes. And no, the ones in TV Guide apparently don’t qualify. Plus: extensive deleted scenes, commentary, interview gallery, more.

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