Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Film Needs More Joe Pesci, But Then, All Films Do

Last night's film was "21", the screen adaptation of the book "Bringing Down the House"--they apparently couldn't use the book's title for the movie or audiences would confuse it with this. (By the way, it's sort of sad that so many youngsters today--can I say "youngsters"? Does anyone say that anymore?--will have grown up never knowing that Steve Martin was once absolutely hilarious) The book--which was about a bunch of MIT students and a professor who used a card counting system to game the blackjack tables at various casinos and make a fortune--was a well written piece that explains how the system worked in a way that a decidedly non-MIT student like myself could understand. The movie however just sort of said "we have a system" and figured the viewers wouldn't be interested in how this system worked.

The movie also changed the main characters of the book--and the real life story the book was based on--from Asian to white, because it's a well known fact that ever since Bruce Lee died white people don't like to see Asians as leads in films. Take heart, my Asian friends! Hollywood is still overcoming their racism towards blacks, Indians, Arabs, and Belgians--eventually they'll overcome their anti-Asian prejudice! You just need to find an Asian Jesse Jackson.

Another problem with the movie is that it didn't explain why--once the heat was on and casino investigators were after them in Vegas--the players didn't just take their game to Atlantic City, or Mississippi riverboats, or cruise ships. (The book had them doing this for a while) Also, it's pointed out early in the movie--as it was in the book--that counting cards isn't actually illegal, so it makes little sense as to why a casino cop could force a player into a back room and beat the tar out of him--why not go to the police about this assault? The book made more sense here--counting cards isn't illegal, but the casino cops--if they catch you--can force you to leave and have you arrested for trespassing if you come back. In the book, it was eventually being banned from most casinos as well as new blackjack techniques (such as using extra decks at the tables to make card counting less effective) that finally brought the MIT gang to call it quits.

I've never been much for gambling--I seem to always lose early, and often, and decide screw it, I'd rather just flush my cash down the toilet so I can say I literally flushed my cash down the toilet. But I'd love to run a casino. Maybe if they legalize gambling in Fairfax.


  1. A good friend of Todd's went to MIT undergrad and is friends with some of the guys who were part of that. One of them was at his wedding with us this summer.

  2. Beck--I wonder what they would have thought of the movie!