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"21"
(2008) (Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey) (PG-13)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Recruited by one of his professors, a college student agrees to join an underground card-counting team, but must deal with the repercussions of getting too good at it, all of which draws the watchful eye of Vegas casino loss prevention specialists.
PLOT:
Ben Campbell (JIM STURGESS) is a smart kid who's attending M.I.T. with dreams of going on to Harvard Medical school, but is poor just like his best friends and fellow students, Miles (JOSH GAD) and Cam (SAM GOLZARI). His smarts in class, however, have drawn the attention of one of his professors, the student-friendly and charismatic Micky Rosa (KEVIN SPACEY). But the instructor is interested in more than just educating the young man, as he senses a highly useful and rare ability in him.

And that's the ability to count cards, a legal but highly frowned-upon activity where rapt attention, a calculating mind, and helpful teammates can translate into big money at Vegas casinos. Ben initially turns down the offer, but he needs $300,000 for his next school and doesn't want his mom's hard-earned life savings that she offers him.

Besides, one of his potential teammates, Jill Taylor (KATE BOSWORTH), is cute and alluring, so Ben decides to give it a go, promising himself that he'll stop when he earns the money he needs. Accordingly, he joins Rosa and his young accomplices that include Jill, Choi (AARON YOO) and Kianna (LIZA LAPIRA), although former star pupil-cum-counter Fisher (JACOB PITTS) isn't happy that Ben's around.

The same holds true for loss prevention specialist Cole Williams (LAURENCE FISHBURNE). While his type are quickly being replaced by sophisticated computer systems, Cole is employed by the casinos to use old school intimidation to persuade anyone caught counting cards to give up their endeavor.

Unfortunately for Ben, he's really good at just that. From that point on, and as he becomes both conceited and greedy, he must contend with his actions as well as the reactions of others toward his success.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're interested in casino gambling and/or are fans of anyone in the cast, they might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some violence, and sexual content including partial nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JIM STURGESS plays a poor college student who reluctantly agrees to be a card counter for Micky's team, but then gets good at that. He lets that go to his head, forsakes his original friends, drinks, uses profanity, and has sex with Jill, all while seduced by his new high-roller lifestyle.
  • KEVIN SPACEY plays his professor and card-counting team leader who's funny and charming in class, but all business when it comes to money. He drinks, uses profanity, briefly smokes, and isn't happy when Ben breaks his rules.
  • KATE BOSWORTH plays one of his card counters who lures Ben into joining them. She drinks some, uses profanity, and has sex with Ben, but then doesn't like the person he eventually turns into.
  • LAURENCE FISHBURNE plays a loss prevention specialist who works for the casinos watching for card counters. Once he finds and catches them, he intimidates them into reconsidering their behavior (including beating them). He also smokes a few times and ends up being just as greedy as those he tries to stop.
  • JACOB PITTS plays the former star card-counter on Micky's team who isn't happy to be in Ben's shadow. He develops a bad attitude, drinks, and uses profanity.
  • AARON YOO and LIZA LAPIRA play other members of the card counting team, with the former appearing to be some sort of kleptomaniac. Both of them drink.
  • JOSH GAD and SAM GOLZARI play Ben's friends and fellow poor students at school who don't like the person he turns into following his success at counting cards. They also drink.
  • 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-13 rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 6 "s" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Various instances of sexually related dialogue are present, while various scantly clad women are seen (including some strippers in just tassels and g-strings/thongs doing their thing around poles and on men's laps), as is a partial view of an unmarried couple having sex.

    Violence includes a casino employee beating up people (with bloody results) caught counting cards, while there's also a fight. Those and a few other moments might be suspenseful for some viewers. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some of the behavior might be enticing for some kids to imitate.

    Various characters smoke and/or drink in many scenes, with some intoxication viewed, while there are some brief comments about absent or dead fathers. 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 concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there are some slight strobe effects in a club.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's some camera movement in several scenes, including a spin-around shot.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Ben, Miles and Cam have beer in a bar where others drink.
  • A comment is made that the main card counter needs to act like a drunk, rich kid to fool the casinos. We then see various scenes where such counters have drinks, but we assume their non-alcoholic (based on a comment that they be that way).
  • People have drinks at an underground gambling establishment.
  • Ben has a drink in a limo.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks in nearly all (if not every) scene set inside a casino (many scenes).
  • Fisher has a beer and Ben a drink.
  • Micky pours himself a drink in the morning from his hotel suite bar (where other bottles of liquor are seen).
  • Ben, Miles and Cam have beer in a bar. Ben then orders beer for Jill and himself, while others there also drink.
  • Cam asks Ben if he's on drugs (due to acting weird recently), but he isn't.
  • We see a montage of Ben and his counting card associates drinking, including shots.
  • Fisher has a drink and is then seen intoxicated.
  • Ben has champagne.
  • Miscellaneous people drink.
  • Choi says he needs a drink, followed by Kianna saying the same, and then Ben asking if he can have one.
  • People have drinks at a reception.
  • Ben, Micky and the rest of their team have beer and drinks.
  • Cole has a drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see Cole punching a seated guy twice, and that man (a card counter) has blood from his mouth and along the side of his head. Cole is doing this to "persuade" the man to stop his card counting ways.
  • We see some miscellaneous guys standing at urinals in a bathroom.
  • Ben's nose, mouth and side of face are bloody after Cole has beaten him, and we later see Ben holding a bloody hanky, and then with a black eye.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Those opposed to gambling should note a great deal of that occurs in the film.
  • Micky tells Ben that he got him out of a paper and arranged an A grade for him (for joining his underground card counting team).
  • After his mom gives him a large check for his pending school bill, Ben turns that down (not wanting to take her hard-earned life savings), and lies that he got the scholarship (he later apologizes for lying).
  • Fisher becomes progressively jealous of Ben being the team's new star.
  • Fisher uses the terms "retard" and "retarded."
  • Ben lets his success go to his head, and thus becomes egotistical while living the high-roller life.
  • About their science project, Ben tells Miles and Cam, "You guys are pathetic." He later apologizes to Miles for the way he's been acting.
  • After he has a falling out with Ben, Micky calls Cole to report him.
  • Ben returns to his room to find the place ransacked and his money gone (presumably done by Micky).
  • Cole, who uses violence to dissuade card counters from continuing that behavior, wants Ben and Jill's casino earnings, and shows that he's wearing a handgun to prove his point.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" might also be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • We see Ben running from casino guys who are coming after him.
  • As Ben does his trial run of counting cards at an underground gambling establishment, he's suddenly grabbed, a hood is placed over his head, and he's taken away. Others yell at him in another room, trying to get him to break, but Ben then realizes this is just part of his test, to see if he holds the count under the pressure.
  • After his teammates have him stuff wads of money down his pants, Ben is nervous while going through airport security. At one point, a guard calls out to him after he's passed by and he freezes, but she's just reminding him that he forgot his bag.
  • Choi steals various small items from a hotel suite (seemingly being something of a kleptomaniac).
  • Cole watches Ben, suspicious of his activities.
  • Cole and his goons surround Ben in a casino, and then take him away. We then see Cole backhand Ben whose mouth, nose and side of his face are bloody. Cole then punches Ben hard in the gut, removes his own ring, and then adds many large ones. We then see him wind up for the punch, but don't see the impact (we later see that he purposefully stopped short, all to intimidate Ben).
  • Ben and his fellow counters spot Cole and his men approaching, so they all flee through the casino, with Cole and his goons chasing them.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • A drink is knocked aside and spilled in a casino, prompting a man to grab Fisher (who was responsible) and pin him to a gaming table. That's followed by struggling, and a handgun being pulled and then fired into the air.
  • Cole wants Ben and Jill's casino earnings, and shows that he's wearing a handgun.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "That's bullsh*t," "No one in the real world gives a sh*t," "Seems to me like you don't do sh*t," "You just got the sh*t kicked out of you," "Winner, winner, chicken dinner," "What the hell /is wrong with you/are you doing/were you up to last night?" "Give me a break," "I'm a cerebral stud," "You're as broke ass as I am," "Bite your damn tongue," "We suck," "A major ass kicking," "Vegas, baby," "I said Google, not Sizzler," "Dude," "Your brain is like a G*ddamn Pentium chip," "Shut up," "You're the donkey boy," "You really suck at not asking questions," "You steal the Bible, you go to hell," "Where the hell have you been?" "Slots are for losers," "Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery," "Gonna freak her out," "My brother from another mother," "Retard," "Retarded," "Are you deliberately slow?" "You guys are pathetic," "Are you out of your mind?" "You shut your mouth," "Not worth a hell of a lot," "You arrogant little infant," "You damn well know it," "Heavy as hell," "Are you insane?" "I really screwed up," "Son of a bitch," "Who the hell are you?" and "For too damn long."
  • The film might inspire kids to become interested in gambling and/or card counting.
  • We see miscellaneous tattoos.
  • A miscellaneous woman has an ankle tattoo, while another has a pierced navel.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 6 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("get down with"), 14 hells, 4 damns, 3 asses, 1 S.O.B., 2 uses each of "Oh my God" and "Swear to God," and 1 use each of "G-damn" and "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A small, ivory-looking sculpture shows a fully nude woman reclining on her side (seen from the rear view).
  • About Ben getting a raise at work (to $8/hour), Miles jokes that Ben slept with his male boss. Ben jokingly replies he did, with Miles saying he'll sleep with that male boss for that kind of money.
  • Ben complains that he's given up fun and sex in his academic pursuits, with Miles saying that Ben hasn't given up sex, which Ben then agrees is correct.
  • Two miscellaneous young women either playfully kiss at a bar or pass something between their mouths.
  • When Ben and his friends eye Jill in awe of her beauty, Miles lies that he's already dating someone. Cam then jokes, "You're right hand doesn't count," with Miles replying it does the way he uses it. About Ben's professor saying that Ben needed life experience in order to dazzle him for a scholarship, Miles jokes that "getting down with that" (having sex with Jill) would qualify.
  • We see Ben in bed in a tank-top and boxers, with Jill in the room, jokingly commenting on his "undies" (they have not had any sort of sexual relations).
  • When Micky complains that it looks like Fisher hasn't slept, Fisher says he did, "With Ida."
  • We see two young women doing some sexy, back-to-back contact dancing in a bar.
  • Ben goes to kiss Jill on a subway, but she pulls back from that.
  • We see various miscellaneous women in bikinis as well as shirtless men poolside. We then see Jill in a regular top and bikini bottom as she playfully cavorts with Ben in a hotel room.
  • We see various scantly clad strippers in a strip club, including women wearing only tassels up top, and thongs down below (thus we see most of their bare breasts and butts). We also see Fisher getting a lap dance from one, while others do their things around poles and such (and we see a close-up of cleavage in the club). Jill also playfully sits on Ben's lap and asks if he wants a private dance.
  • Ben and Jill passionately kiss.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • We see strippers/exotic dancers in a strip club again, doing their thing while scantly clad, including a full view of one such woman in a thong bottom while bent over. We also see man put a gaming chip into a stripper's cleavage.
  • Ben and Jill passionately kiss in a sensual fashion and then start to undress (we see her in her bra). We then see them having sex, standing or seated, with her on top, shirtless (their embrace and the camera angle prevents a view of her breasts).
  • Jill shows some cleavage.
  • Kianna shows some cleavage.
  • Jill shows some cleavage.
  • We see some miscellaneous young women in bikinis.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • SMOKING
  • Cole and Micky each smoke at least twice, while Choi and Fisher (cigar) each smoke at least once, and miscellaneous people smoke in various scenes (mostly set in casinos).
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Ben's mom asks if he remembers much about his dad, and he says he doesn't.
  • Jill mentions her dad being long gone, but we don't know if that means he left or is dead.
  • Cole talks of being at his father's funeral long ago in the past, and that Micky got away with seven figures counting cards in his casino while Cole was absent.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The process of counting cards in gambling, and the comment that it is not illegal to do so.
  • Micky comments about variable change in terms of statistics.
  • Ben agrees to count cards for Micky's group only for the money he needs to pay for medical school.
  • Choi steals various small items from a hotel suite (seemingly being something of a kleptomaniac).
  • Casino spotters being replaced by software to do their job in catching cheats.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see Cole punching a seated guy twice, and that man (a card counter) has blood from his mouth and along the side of his head. Cole is doing this to "persuade" the man to stop his card counting ways.
  • As Ben does his trial run of counting cards at an underground gambling establishment, he's suddenly grabbed, a hood is placed over his head, and he's taken away. Others yell at him in another room, trying to get him to break, but Ben then realizes this is just part of his test, to see if he holds the count under the pressure.
  • Not paying attention where he's walking in a casino, Ben falls down a few steps, but is okay.
  • A drink is knocked aside and spilled in a casino, prompting a man to grab Fisher (who was responsible) and pin him to a gaming table. That's followed by struggling, and a handgun being pulled and then fired into the air.
  • About a scene Fisher earlier made in a casino, Ben pushes him backwards.
  • Cole and his goons surround Ben in a casino, and then take him away. We then see Cole backhand Ben whose mouth, nose and side of his face are bloody. Cole then punches Ben hard in the gut, removes his own ring, and then adds many large ones. We then see him wind up for the punch, but don't see the impact (we later see that he purposefully stopped short, all to intimidate Ben).



  • Reviewed February 26, 2008 / Posted March 28, 2008

    Other new reviews available this week include:

    [Captain America: The Winter Soldier] [Draft Day] [Oculus] [Rio 2]

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