Word Wars - Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Game Circuit
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Let me explain ...
This documentary follows the Scrabble-playing-lives of four obsessed players:
#1. "G.I." Joel Sherman, a dorky looking, 40-something guy with no job, sloppy clothes, and a nervous stomach that causes him to drink Mylanta by the gallon. He spends every minute of every day playing, thinking about, or studying words for Scrabble.
#2. Marlon Hill is a dreadlocked black man who is unemployed, bitter about how America treats its colored countrymen and women, smokes pot, and occasionally visits grade schools to tell the kids about why he plays Scrabble and how they can become good at it, too. He also apparently loves prostitutes, as we watch him go to Tijuana and employ one (or two). This guy also has a serious anger management problem.
#3. Matt Graham takes brain stimulating supplements (PILES of them!), wears sloth-like clothes with holes in them, and will play Scrabble anywhere at anytime with anyone ...especially if there are bets on the table.
#4. Joe Edley is one of the few players we see who actually has a job outside of Scrabble competitions. He's also the 2001 defending national champion. But can he maintain his crown?
Although Scrabble is why these men are battling to reach San Diego and play in the 2002 national tournament (Grand Prize, $25,000), it's their bizarre lifestyles and complete obsessiveness with Scrabble that really caught my interest.Read more ›
Original bad impressions aside, these men are mostly admirable and no different from many others. Like most males, they love competition, hanging with their boys, being obsessive over their leisure activities, and placing bets. These guys are no different from professional and student athletes who train 24-7 for very little compensation.
The most intriguing interviewee here is Marlon, the African-American gentleman. He looks like mumZ, the man who played Poet in the "Oz" series. But his actions reminded me of the Black character in "Chasing Amy." Marlon calls himself "a pre-Mecca Malcolm [X]." However, Malcolm at that time was a separatist; though Marlon speaks of Black empowerment and combating Eurocentricity, he hangs with all the white players here without any hesitations. Is he just all talk? Professional movie critics have registered their shock about his foul language and drugs-taking, but what stood out to me was his patronage of the "oldest profession." Like a positive brother, he coaches young, Black students in Scrabble.Read more ›
"Word Wars" starts by interviewing Scrabble players in New York's Washington Square Park who play for a penny a point. They're a diverse group with some top notch players among them, and we periodically revisit the Park over the course of the film. Documentarians Eric Chaikin & Julian Petrillo have chosen 4 eccentric, but apparently not atypical, players through which to explore the "trials and tribulations on the Scrabble circuit". Matt Graham is a part-time comedy writer and stand-up comedian who takes brain-boosting supplements and smart drugs to sharpen his skills. Joe Edley is a former National Champion who relies on meditation to calm the emotional roller coaster of competitive Scrabble. He's also the only one of the group who has a family and steady job. "G.I." Joel Sherman aspires to be a professional Scrabble player -if only one could make a living at Scrabble. He's never far from his bottle of Maalox, which he chugs constantly for acid reflux. Marlon Hill has dreadlocks and a Scrabble-playing family. He teaches elementary school students how to play the game, answers their questions about competition, and admits that he does nothing for a living.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this before you proclaiming your Scrabble righteousness.Published 16 months ago by Thomas G. Moreno
This documentary is more about individuals who suffer from a variety of social and personal issues, than it is a movie about scrabble. Read morePublished on March 12, 2013 by Robert
Scrabble nerds worthy of the designation will be entertained by this little documentary, while people who wonder what level of obsession it takes to become one will be thoroughly... Read morePublished on February 16, 2013 by Dan Kennedy
Honestly, I thought this would be a fun documentary that even my young daughter could watch. Wrong! This documentary follows 4 Scrabble players around in their quest to be the best... Read morePublished on November 22, 2012 by VB
<strong>Word Wars</strong> (Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo, 2004)
Given the subject matter and its release date, I was hoping for another movie--this one centers... Read more
Being a Scrabble player I absolutely love this movie. I had rented it previously but just had to own it so I could watch it again. Read morePublished on September 18, 2011 by Dixie E. Hart
A movie about Scrabble that needs an R rating? For language and drug use, this one qualifies. That mild-mannered national champion on the Today Show who looks like an accountant? Read morePublished on August 4, 2007 by Ronald Scheer
Unlike its linguistic cousins about the national spelling bee (Spellbound) and crossword puzzles (Word Play), this documentary film never rises to the level of the mighty social... Read morePublished on June 14, 2007 by Daniel B. Clendenin