- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

The documentary “Air Guitar Nation” takes a potentially ludicrous art form and gives it a measure of respect, albeit with a few chuckles. It isn’t the first documentary to transform a flimsy or staid subject into a must-see DVD.

Here are five documentaries that took dry-as-dirt subjects and made them sizzle.

Spellbound — This 2002 documentary ignited a spelling-bee minicraze. No wonder, because the film packs the pacing of a thriller with the humanity of a one-man show. We watch the lives of some dedicated spelling-bee contestants who spend every waking hour hitting the books.

Wordplay — The only subject more cinematically dull than spelling is crossword puzzles. This 2006 feature ignored the conventional wisdom, earning rave reviews for profiling New York Times crossword mastermind Will Shortz.

Super Size Me — Have you ever glanced at someone devouring a Big Mac and not instantly looked away? Someone — lefty provocateur Morgan Spurlock — wolfs down Mickey D’s for 30 days straight, and we can’t get enough.

Mad Hot Ballroom — Sounds steamy, right? But it’s not “Dancing With the Stars.” It’s more like stumbling with well-intentioned but clumsy elementary school students. And it’s a charmer through and through.

The King of Kong — The only thing worse than a lame movie inspired by a video game is a documentary about video gamers, right? The cheeky “King of Kong” is proving otherwise to those who have seen the new documentary, which follows a clash between Donkey Kong champions. Personally, we can’t wait to check it out.

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