Even though Wordplay was released last year, the visit of Will Shortz, The New York Times crossword editor and puzzle master for National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” at UCLAlive last month piqued my interest in the subject of crossword puzzles. During his L.A. appearance, Shortz discussed his favorite crosswords and puzzlemakers, their history, secrets of the trade and answered audience questions.

For those that do crossword puzzles religiously, or even every once in a while, this movie probably hits close to home. For those of us that don’t, this film provides a closer look at the obsessive, smart and close-knit world of casual and competitive crossword puzzle play.

Celebrities and political figures like Jon Stewart, the Indigo Girls and Bill Clinton weigh in on their love for their hobby. The most interesting aspect, however, is when the audience gets a glimpse into the lives of the top players and puzzle constructors in the nation. And, of course, being introduced to Shortz is enlightening, too.

Wordplay really gets going as we begin the countdown to 2005’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, Conn. Viewers cozy up with the top players, Trip Payne, Jon Delfin, Tyler Hinman, Al Sanders and Ellen Ripstein as they prepare for the big showdown. Audiences will definitely begin to root for their favorites and get drawn into the wordplay drama.

Though it’s just a “game,” crossword puzzles seem to be one of the things that make these players the happiest. They work on puzzles every day – for hours on end and probably even dream about words.

Probably the most interesting factoid I learned was that there are two groups of people who are great at puzzles, one being musicians.

Extras: commentary from director, Will Shortz and Merl Reagle, deleted scenes, music video and five most famous Times puzzles.

Grade: B

Wordplay is currently available.