Sturgess, Spacey gamble with ’21’

ReAnne Utemark

Most movies allow time for some of the actors standing around to look pretty. This is basically a big portion of what “21” is. While I don’t mind Jim Sturgess, who also played Jude in “Across the Universe,” standing around in Armani looking pretty, I am not sure that is what most people are going to pay $8 for.

The movie is loosely based on the book “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich, which is about six kids from MIT taking Vegas for millions. Apparently, the writers and director took some serious liberties with the facts, but it is still a movie that won’t make you feel like you have wasted two hours of your life.

The movie is about an MIT senior, Ben, played by Sturgess, who wants to go to Harvard Medical School, a dream of his since childhood. However, as his mother is a barmaid, there is no way that he can afford to pay $300,000 for housing and tuition. So he applies for a scholarship at Harvard, but needs an essay that makes him “jump” off the page because there are many applications just like his. When a teacher in his math class notices his aptitude with numbers, the teacher, Mickey, played by Kevin Spacey, offers him a spot on a team that travels to Las Vegas on the weekends and counts cards to win at blackjack.

At first Ben is reluctant to join, but the call of medical school is too great and he joins the team. He does well and gets taken up in the whirlwind of Vegas. Strippers, nice suits, high roller suites and the rest of the perks of being a big gambler go to his head and he not only pushes a member of the team off, but also ends up against Mickey. The destruction of everything Ben worked for in a few days brings him back to the surface of reality in Boston.

The acting is decent. Sturgess had to work without his accent for the movie, but it finds its way back into some of his phrases. Mostly it is a bunch of pretty, smart kids playing blackjack with trendy music in the background. The plot line moves smoothly and it is a fast-paced story that will keep you interested enough to not go to the bathroom in the middle of it. “21” is definitely worth the $1.50 theater or a rental on Friday evening, but wait until then to see the movie.