Movie Review: 21

Continuing this weekend's Las Vegas theme, after watching about half of today's game, I went to see the new movie "21" this afternoon, and then had dinner, which explains the lateness of this post. Actually, it was my son Mark's idea, so we went even though at least one Chicago newspaper review was pretty bad.

Basic plot, VERY loosely based on a book about the subject (a true story): some MIT students, led by a professor who isn't quite what he seems, try to game the system at blackjack tables by a card-counting scheme. They succeed for for a while, but eventually get caught. The movie is an intriguing idea, at times well-executed, at times bogging down and you find yourself saying, "Get on with it!", as it runs on for two hours and two minutes.

Jim Sturgess, a British actor who was so good in "Across The Universe" as a Paul McCartney lookalike, plays Ben Campbell, the MIT student who's doing the scheme only to get money to pay for med school. Kevin Spacey is sufficiently slimy as the professor/card counter, and there's a subplot about how human security people in Vegas are being replaced by biometrics -- only Laurence Fishburne plays the security guy who proves humans are better than computers. Some of the time, anyway. Oddest note: one of the very first things Spacey's professor tells the "team" is that they'll work in disguise -- but then they never do until it's a necessary plot point toward the end.

It's got the requisite chase scenes and snazzy photography, but it's just OK -- maybe worth a rental.

AYRating:

Today's game, the final exhibition game giving the Cubs a 15-15-2 record, rates highter. The Cubs beat the Mariners 4-2; Reed Johnson led off the game with a home run (and incidentally, I really like today's lineup vs. LHP -- obviously, with Ryan Theriot or Ronny Cedeno hitting 8th, since most of the time there won't be a DH, as there was today). Ryan Dempster threw better, issuing no walks, and it appears to me that Carmen Pignatiello nailed down that last spot in the bullpen over Sean Marshall, if you're going on their most recent outings.

This recap, in fact, says the Cubs will fly to Chicago (where there will be a closed-to-the-public workout at Wrigley tomorrow at 1) with 27 players -- presumably, both Marshall and Pignatiello, and also Matt Murton, pending whether he'll be sent to Iowa or traded.

I'm ready for the season. Aren't you? I think the Cubs are, too. I'll post my season predictions tomorrow.

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