Wordplay

Critics Consensus

You see them hunched over with their brows furrowed, folded newspaper in hand as they attempt to complete the crossword puzzle. This may even describe you. This ingeniously edited documentary introduces viewers to some of the more dedicated fans of this solitary pastime, none more well-known the puzzle editor for the New York Times, Will Shortz. This underground world provides a surprising amount of crowd-pleasing entertainment and suspense, especially at the annual crossword tournament. Didn't know there was one, did you?

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 121

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,557
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Movie Info

This documentary film provides an in-depth look at "The New York Times" crossword puzzle, its editor Will Shortz and the wonderfully unique and loyal fan base Shortz has built and nurtured during his 12-year tenure at the paper.

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News & Interviews for Wordplay

Critic Reviews for Wordplay

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (115) | Rotten (6)

  • Boy, was I wrong. There's more palm-sweating suspense in one minute of this baby than in all of The Omen.

    Nov 24, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
  • Even though these puzzles are mapped out with utmost precision -- and even though logic is an extremely useful tool for solving them -- they're still, somehow, objects of intrigue and mystery.

    Oct 7, 2006
  • A playful, informative and very sweet documentary about the world of words 'across' or 'down.'

    Jul 7, 2006 | Rating: 4/5
  • It manages to turn an internal, solitary activity into fodder for an engaging, even exciting movie.

    Jun 30, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
  • There's a surface satisfaction to Wordplay that's absolutely undeniable. But there are also just enough smarts here to make you wish for something more.

    Jun 30, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Manages to present lively and entertaining portraits of men and women who think in boxes while working outside of them.

    Jun 30, 2006 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Wordplay

  • Apr 23, 2011
    Recently I've watched films about those obsessed with Scrabble, Chess, and Cinema. This was probably my favorite. First of all, all the people featured in this documentary seem to be able to function. They make friends, relationships, study, have jobs, etc. This makes them easier to relate to and makes their talents more impressive. Unlike Scrabble, where people just memorized words, and not their meaning, here the contestants need some intelligence. The documentary loses points as it focuses too much on just The New York Times crossword puzzle. Which is fair enough, and leads to us seeing the creation and editing of crosswords. However, it comes across as an advertisement sometimes. Luckily, there is a lot of interest here. You wouldn't believe how much work goes into a simple puzzle, and how clever they can be. I never knew a puzzle could be witty until I saw the election of Bob Dole/Clinton section. It all boils up to a fantastic tournament finish. What I loved about this was that I was routing for all three finalists, and it was an unpredictable, heart-breaking, but also uplifting ending. It contained a lot of emotions without the manipulation you find in sport biopics.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2010
    A fabulous documentary.
    Jay H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2010
    A look at the world of New York crossword puzzlers, given extra credence by having Bill Clinton one of its many fans. Geeky and harmless.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Feb 13, 2010
    Didnt know that many people were seriously into crossword puzzles
    Brody M Super Reviewer

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