Movie Review: 21

Don't feel like making a new movie? Copy some old ones...

 

I finally caught a couple of films now on DVD or pay-per-view that I've been meaning to see and I noticed a running theme: non-originality. As my good friend Derrick Goulet likes to say, "Let's not REMAKE movies people, lets MAKE movies."

Oh, how he hits the nail on the head.

Flying back from Michigan recently on a four and a half hour flight, I passed the time watching the film "21." As I work in the casino business, of course I've seen plenty of films regarding the subject of casinos and gambling, and I intimately know the subject matter.

Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that I love Kevin Spacey. "Swimming with Sharks," the 1994 masterpiece also starring Benicio Del Toro and Frank Whaley is one of my all time favorites, and my introduction to Spacey's inimitable style of acting.

This film, however, seemed like little more than a paycheck for him, as he was able to mimick any of a dozen other performances he's done in similar films as a former card cheat turned MIT professor who wrangles a group of mathematically inclined students to act as his own personal card counting crew, subsequently earning him and them hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Las Vegas strip.

All the film cliches are here. There's the poor kid who can't afford to go to the expensive college (think "Goodwill Hunting"), the smart kid who becomes the prodigy of the professor who uses him for his own ill gains (think "Real Genius"), the unobtainable hottest chick in school who somehow ends up romantically entangled with the geek (think several other movies, most notably "Can't Buy Me Love").

At least a half dozen film titles are gleaned of their most notable plot points in "21." The Matt Damon/Edward Norton film "Rounders" is robbed as well, with the hero of the film making money, forsaking his geeky friends, seeing that there is more to life than a minimum wage job and taking the safe route, betrayal, redemption, and revenge. Sounds great, but like I said, we've seen it all before, and done much better.

I know this film did relatively well at the box office and critics were warm to it, but I have to give it a single star, frowny face, and thumbs neutral (sorry Roger, I know you own the copyright to that - I hope you'll forgive me.)

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