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21

True-ish tale of blackjack venture is more glitter than grit

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Robert Luketic's film takes the cautionary true tale of MIT students involved in an organized, elaborate card-counting blackjack venture and turns it into a bouncy, pretty-people comedy. As adapted from the best-selling book Bringing Down the House, 21 is very light entertainment that scrimps on the story's best aspects: the mechanics of card-counting, the shadowy world of casino security, and the uneasy collusion of brains, greed and immorality. Instead we get the most adorable, shaggy-haired MIT nerd ever (Jim Sturgess), cartoonishly malevolent adversaries (Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne), and easy-to-digest added storylines that absolve all the cute players of any personal failings. Twinkly fun set to a toe-tappin' beat, but about as engaging as gambling for Hershey's kisses. (AH) [capsule review]

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