Word Wars


Top 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2004 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Eric Chaikin, Julian Petrillo, Udy Epstein, Laela Kilbourn, Conor O'Neill


J-o-c-u-n-d, a six-letter word for ìfun,î is an apt description of Word Wars, Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo's feisty documentary about the National Scrabble Tournament. Word Wars follows the lives of four of the top-rated Scrabble players in the country as they crisscross the United States in heated competitions culminating in their ultimate questóthe $25,000 top prize awarded at the national tournament in San Diego.

Warning: This is not your grandmother's game of Scrabble, With its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, Word Wars uncovers the fiercely competitive, highly idiosyncratic world of professional Scrabble. Defending champ Joe Edley, known as the Jack Nicklaus of Scrabble, has memorized the dictionary many times over. Matt Graham, a stand-up comic, takes a lot of ìnatural drugsî to aid his concentration. Marion Hill despises the English language for stripping him of his African identity. "G.I," Joel Sherman (the G.I. in for gastrointestinal) downs copious amounts of Maalox.

With a keen eye for the whimsical, Word Wars pays homage to its troops, who are sacrificing their pocketbooks to defend the glory and the majesty of the mighty m-o-r-p-h-e-m-e, an eight-letter word for "word."


David Courier (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.