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The MPAA has rated 21 PG-13 for some violence, and sexual content including partial nudity
It's hard to arouse sympathy for an industry that's betting most of it's customers will walk away empty-handed. It's equally difficult to feel empathy for Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey), a college professor who's extracurricular activities include schooling a batch of brilliant card-counting students to skew the odds in their favor at the blackjack tables. Yet to really buy into this film, viewers have to cheer for one con or the other.
Based on true events, this story is about a group of MIT scholars (Aaron Yoo, Liza Lapira, Jacob Pitts, Kate Bosworth). During the week, they live low-profile lives as struggling college kids with homework to do and papers to write. But on the weekends, they are high rollers on the glitzy Las Vegas Strip where a single night of game playing can net each of them a substantial wad of cash.
At first Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is reluctant to join the "team". The slightly nerdy mathematician is working with his friends (Sam Golzani, Josh Gad) on an entry for an upcoming robotics competition. He's also saving money for Harvard Medical School. On the Cambridge campus, he hardly stands out or even gets noticed by the girls, especially Jill Taylor (Bosworth). However, all that changes after the bookish undergraduate accepts Micky's special invitation. Before long, Ben's established a new reputation in the Nevada resort as a big player and is on a first name basis with many of the card dealers and hotel staff.
He's also kindling the suspicions of Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburn) and the other casino surveillance personnel (Jack McGee) who want to plug the casino's outflow of cash. Meting out their own form of Old Wild West justice, their vigilante punishments are comprised of threats and bloody beatings that fly under the radar of established legal procedures.
While not officially illegal, the team's organized approach to scamming the gambling establishments has as many ethical issues at its core as do the casinos themselves. The students' excessive weekend lifestyles include sex, frequent alcohol consumption and evenings spent in a strip bar (partial nudity is seen). Yet even with this desert city's lavish nightlife and the promise of anonymity, the plot often lumbers at a painfully slow pace and conveniently overlooks some of the safeguards these private clubs have in place to protect their investments.
With relatively few consequences for the team's actions, this promise of quick money may seem inviting to teens facing the high cost of university tuition. But with few positive role models in the movie, families may prefer to cash their chips in for a different theatrical experience.
Beyond the movie ratings: What Parents need to know about 21...
Bright lights, booze and scantily clad women (with buttock nudity) performing in a strip bar are some of the entertainment these college kids take in when they're not at the tables. A brief sexual encounter (bare shoulders are shown), discussions of other sexual activities and some passionate kissing between male/female partners and female/female partners are also depicted. The frequent theft of hotel objects, lies and assumed identities are portrayed, along with cigarette use, social drinking and stress-motivated alcohol consumption. A fight breaks out in the casino and one man fires a gun. Characters are taken to a dark basement and physically beaten (bloody injuries). Numerous profanities and terms of Deity are used in the script
Talk about the movie with your family...
Acceptance at prestigious universities is increasingly challenging. How might the rigors of academic competition impact students? Does Ben's need for tuition money justify his activities in Vegas? Is this the kind of life experience that would look good on a Harvard resume?
Can something be ethically or morally wrong even if it is not illegal? Why do the characters in this film have little or no recourse when they are conned? What significance do peer pressure, pride and jealousy play in this script?
Las Vegas has a huge advertising campaign "What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas". What dangers, if any, might be associated with this promise of anonymity?
Catch Me If You Can is the story of Frank Abagnale (played by Leonardo DeCaprio), another brilliant young mind who used his skills for illegal gain while being chased down by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (played by Tom Hanks). In October Sky, a teacher in a coalmining town encourages a student to see new possibilities for his life by pursing his passion for rocketry.
DVD Notes: 21
DVD Release Date: 22 July 2008
The movie 21 releases to DVD with the following extras dealt in the hand: three featurettes (The Advantage Player, Basic Strategy: A Complete Film Journal and Money Plays: A Tour of the Good Life) and an audio commentary with director Robert Luketic and producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca. Audio tracks are available in 5.1 Dolby Digital (English, Spanish and French), with subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
21 also releases in a Blu-ray version. This edition provides all of the aforementioned bonus materials plus an interactive game: 21Virtual Blackjack. Audio tracks are available in 5.1 TrueHD (English, French and Portuguese). There are language tracks in Spanish and Thai as well. Subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Thai and Indonesian.
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