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"WORDPLAY"
(2006) (Documentary) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor None Minor None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild *None Mild Moderate None


QUICK TAKE:
Documentary: A look at crossword puzzles, as well as those who construct and manage them, and those who try to solve them, both on amateur and tournament levels.
PLOT:
In the world of crossword puzzles, the ultimate source for the best comes in the New York Times. With puzzle editor Will Shortz and puzzle constructor Merl Reagle explaining their jobs and the nature of puzzling, we see various celebrities -- such as Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, Mike Mussina, The Indigo Girls and Jon Stewart -- discussing their obsession with them. We also meet entrants - including Jon Delfin, Tyler Hinman, Trip Payne, Ellen Ripstein and Al Sanders -- in the 28th Annual Crossword Tournament held in Stamford, Connecticut. As we learn all about the puzzles and the people obsessed with solving them, those participants prepare for and then compete in the big tournament.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into crossword puzzles, it's quite likely. If not, it's doubtful.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For some language and mild thematic elements.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
Everyone portrayed in the film (puzzle makers and editors, celebrities, and contestants) appears as themselves. Most are smart, some are nerdy (to varying degrees) and one is shown to be gay, but all are passionate about their involvement with crossword puzzles.
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


(Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-rated documentary. Profanity consists of one minor expletive, while a few religious and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some newspaper text briefly includes a sexual reference (but isn't the focus of the camera shot), while some brief cleavage is present and it's noted that one of the male puzzle solvers is gay (he briefly kisses his companion).

There's some brief beer related material, while a woman briefly comments on her husband dying many years ago after one of the competitions. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content. For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's handheld camera footage in the film, some of which features slight movements, and other moments where it's quite a bit more.


ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None, but filmmaker Ken Burns says that he doesn't need to smoke or have a drink in the evening as his habit is the puzzle.
  • We see some beer related magnets in a college dorm (one reads "beer," another "beer saved our marriage"), while we see a large display sporting the name of a popular beer.
  • We see what looks like a bottle of beer on a table.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Will reads a few belligerent letters from readers about the puzzles he runs (the content of their messages shows the bad attitudes -- although they're funny in this particular context).
  • Some might not like when comedian Jon Stewart jokes that he imagined the NY Times puzzle editor being short and not being able to go more than 5 feet without his inhaler.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Smart ass," "Cajones" (testicles), "Who in the hell..." "Jeez," "Dang it," "A little nerd girl" (what an adult says about herself), "Totally nuts," "An obsessive creep," "Losing my marbles," "Orgy of puzzling," "Screw(ed) up," "Kick butt" and "This was a mother."
  • The film could inspire kids to take up crossword puzzles.
  • One of the Indigo Girls has a small tattoo on her arm.
  • We briefly see a young woman in a slightly midriff-revealing top.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 ass and 1 use each of "God," "Oh good God," "Oh God" and "Oh my God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see some cleavage from miscellaneous women during singing auditions.
  • We see a newspaper page where on the side and toward the bottom of the view is a partially seen article that mentions Playboy Magazine as well as the phrase "had sex with men."
  • We learn that Trip is gay and briefly see him kiss (one peck) his live-in male lover.
  • SMOKING
  • None, but filmmaker Ken Burns says that he doesn't need to smoke or have a drink in the evening as his habit is the puzzle.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • One older contestant mentions that her husband died (from a heart attack) back in 1981 right after the tournament, and makes some related comments about that, including that she senses the spirits of other contestants who've died being there with them (in a good way).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Crossword puzzles and those who solve them and why.
  • Will's stated goal of stretching his readers' brains and bringing joy to their lives.
  • The work and rules that go into constructing crossword puzzles.
  • A comment is made about no unsavory words such as "enema" or "rectal" being allowed in the Sunday puzzle.
  • The comment that the best puzzle solvers are musicians and those involved in math.
  • The comment about both nature and nurture shaping people and their abilities.
  • The comment that we're all capable of doing more than we think we can do.
  • We learn that Trip is gay and briefly see him kiss (one peck) his live-in male lover.
  • The notion of using pencils or pens when solving crossword puzzles.
  • The comment about the basic human need to figure out things and solve puzzles.
  • One older contestant mentions that her husband died (from a heart attack) back in 1981 right after the tournament, and makes some related comments about that, including that she senses the spirits of other contestants who've died being there with them (in a good way).
  • VIOLENCE
  • None.



  • Reviewed June 12, 2006 / Posted June 23, 2006

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