©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:

Filthy says:
"Who knew winning sucked so hard?"

Blackjack's a pretty boring game. If you want to play it as well as possible, you just follow statistics. Every move you make is predetermined and can be fit on a three-by-five card. Maybe people like playing it because it is so fucking simple. Also, because you can win money at it. Not very often, and with recent payout changes in Las Vegas, less often than ever. Still, blackjack has a mystique because people are sexually attracted to anything where they can get free money.

21 is about blackjack. It's boring, too. It's based loosely on the true story of some dweebs at MIT who figured out a scheme to make tons of dough at blackjack. The basic idea was to have some people play tables, making the minimum bet, and keep a count of the number of high and low cards left to be dealt. The more high cards left in the deck, the better the game is for the player. The more low cards, the better for the house. When the cards were rich with high cards, the min-bet player would signal to an accomplice who would come in and make some huge bets as long as the deck stayed rich.

That gives the team an edge over the house. Not a huge edge, but it can turn a game profitable. The problem is, once you get past the thrill of having figured out a way to beat the house, card counting is incredibly boring. It sure as hell isn't a good basis for a two hour movie, especially a crappy, boilerplate one like 21, which dumbs down more people than the Nevada public school system. It doesn't properly explain card counting, it doesn't have casino scenes that are remotely realistic and it made me glad I stole a bunch of Easter candy from one of the neighbor kids so I at least had something to gnaw on. No casino lets people bet 100 grand a hand with no heat or without knowing every little thing about the guy betting. The Hard Rock is not on a the Strip, neither is the Red Rock. And you don't lose 200 grand in a bad night betting 100K a hand. Just to mention a few of the hundreds of errors.

Jim Sturgess, a low-rent, drowsier version of Tobey Maguire, is a brainiac who needs three buttloads of money to pay for Harvard Medical School. That's why we're supposed to root for him; because he's a wishy-washy geek wants to go to Harvard. I don't know about you, but Good fucking God, I can't sleep at night fretting over which brat gets to be an overpaid pediatrician. Come on, as long as a movie is going to play as loose and sloppy with facts as this one, why not say he needed the money to pay terrorists who would otherwise blow up New York?

When the movie opens, Sturgess is meeting with a college administrator who he tells of wet dreams about to be a pompous Ivy League ass. The stuffy administrator tells him he needs "life experience" to earn the full-ride scholarship that will fulfill his lifelong desires.

Gee, can you guess what happens? I guessed that Sturgess wiould get involved in a blackjack team, earn a shitload of money, end up losing it, temporarily lose his ethics, meet a girl, and gain the "life experience" he needed to get the scholarship that was what he really wanted. The grassfuckers in Hollywood probably think this is a clever setup, but Christ on a Mic, it's the template that they give the elephants in Thailand who write scripts with their trunks to wow crowds.

Everything about 21 is as predictable as the outcome when ten-year-old boys get their hands on firecrackers and Barbies. Sturgess is reluctantly drawn into a high stakes blackjack team by a weaselly, blowhard math professor (Kevin Spacey). But, see, he needs the money for such a worthy cause: so he won't have to pay back student loans when he becomes a real doctor. Poor kid. On the team, he meets a very pretty girl (Kate Bosworth), they make a lot of money, the casinos catch on, the kids get caught and Sturgess loses all his money.

Oh, but he gets that invaluable "life experience." Yeah, right. Scholarship committees want to give 300 grand to kids who had a bad gambling jaunt. That looks way better than, say, building mud huts for Zimbaweans. I'm sure the Board of Regents and the kids who really did something good would agree.

To compound the shitty obviousness of the plot is the incredibly lame characters are. Besides Sturgess being as bland and doughy as the bread at Subway, the rest of the blackjack team is nondescript. They are supposed to be a bunch of math geniuses, but they never do math (or anything interesting). I never even saw Bosworth add two and two, so maybe her special wagering skill is looking hot, especially in suspenders... seriously. I figure if she ain't going to act smart, she should at least show us her tits, maybe roll the nipples between her thumb and forefinger. But no dice.

Of course, bad movies always have a villain; 21 gives the thankless job to Laurence Fishburne, who plays a casino security thug. He beats people up for counting cards. That may have been interesting thirty years ago when that sort of shit still happened. Or when Vegas movies still used that hoary cliche. Nowadays, casinos are owned by huge corporations who are more likely to fuck up your credit rating than take you into the parking garage and run a cheese grater over your nuts. I think the last known case was a while ago when the old Binion's Horseshoe beat up a cheater, and they got sued for a small fortune for doing it. Fishburne's character is complete and total bullshit, with a lame-ass subtheme of the "new" Vegas eliminating human jobs in security. I didn't understand whether we were supposed to feel bad for him or whether that was supposed to humanize him somehow, and make us like him more when he beats people up. All I know is I didn't give a fuck over Niagra whether or not he kept his job.

Spacey is the other villain. He's the totally irredeemable one. Only problem is the fucking movie telegraphs that from the first time we see him. His actions never surprise.

Now, here's my biggest fucking beef about this turdfest: it has no morals. At the end of the movie, in a wildly ridiculous and tedious finale that includes a chase through a casino and a switcheroo where Spacey gets burned for being an ass, we're supposed to be happy that Sturgess got revenge and got his scholarship. But the little shit never shows any balls. He gets the shit beat out of him, so he turns over Spacey to Fishburne, so he can also have the shit whacked out of him. And that makes his feel better. Oh, and earns him a big-ass scholarship. He never shows remorse for getting someone beat up. He doesn't even beat him up himself. He just turns the guy over to a thug and thinks that is the same as justice. Apparently, we're supposed to agree.

Bullshit. 21 is bad and lazy. And if I wanted more of that I'd look in the mirror more often.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



KOSI 101 Denver

Run Fat Boy Run is "Shaun of the Dead meets Wedding Crashers!"

What the fuck? And how desperate is a movie to quote utter nonsense as its blurb?

Filthy's Reading
Dashiell Hammett - The Dain Curse

Listening to
Neutral Milk Hotel- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea


The Simpsons Season 3