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21 Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    While not exactly a zero, 21 lags and fails to measure up dramatically.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Very little adds up in 21.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Escapist moviegoers happy to live out a flashy fantasy get a brief comeuppance and still walk away from the table with a little something in their pockets.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The fun of 21 is the way that this sharp, hyperaware star in the making, his face as readable as a mood ring, pours us into an adrenalized cocktail of fear, desire, and mental buzz.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Breezy Vegas con film fun, with some iffy stuff.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 21 is a breezy, fact-based drama about college students who use their math skills to count cards in Las Vegas; it may appeal to teens thanks to stars like Jim Sturgess (of Across the Universe) and Kate Bosworth. That said, the subject matter is pretty serious, and there are some fairly violent scenes -- a security officer punches counters with a closed, ring-bedecked fist -- as well as lots of smoking, drinking, swearing, and, of course, gambling. The students also meet up post-gambling at a strip club, and there are plenty of cleavage shots and some passionate clinches.

  • Families can talk about Ben's decision to gamble as a means to an end. Was he right? Is it ever OK to bend the rules to accomplish something?
  • Since it's not technically illegal to count cards, why is it so frowned upon? Do you think it's cheating or just a clever use of math skills? Is it easier to justify something like card counting if you're taking money away from a casino instead of a person?
  • Does the movie glamorize Las Vegas and gambling? What do you think casinos are like in real life?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The students involved in the scheme are aware that what they're doing isn't necessarily playing by the rules, and they seem quite attracted to the rush. They also happily indulge in the spoils, drinking to excess, hooking up with strangers, and throwing money around (one seems to have a shoplifting habit, and fake IDs are used to subvert the authorities and protect the students' true identities). Still, it's clear that, for them, it's not necessarily about total greed (except perhaps for their mentor, Professor Rosa). Also, for Ben, this enterprise is a means to a seemingly noble end: paying for medical school without having to rely on anyone for help. Plus, he comes to an understanding that his game isn't without its cost.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A security officer takes delight in beating up anyone caught counting cards; he even wears special rings on his fingers to make the experience more painful (the bloody aftermath is shown on camera). He also flashes a gun, and another gun is fired in a casino. Some loud arguments between friends.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Strippers do their thing at a club (lots of cleavage shots); Jill propositions Ben, and they make love in front of a window (they're shown from the top half, kissing passionately, naked); mild jokes about masturbation.

  • language false3

    Language: Some salty language, including "goddamn," "bulls--t," and the like.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Practically feels like a commercial for Las Vegas, with scene upon scene of casinos, gamblers, and the strip. Signage is everywhere, from the Hard Rock Cafe to Planet Hollywood to The Mirage. A book that teaches the students how to count cards is clearly shown. Shopping sprees take place in stores that are clearly marked out front or by shopping bags, including Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Also many mentions of Google, Sizzler, MIT, Harvard Medical School, etc.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Lots of drinking in Boston pubs and at the Vegas casinos and strip bars. Tons of smoking in those locales as well.