Very Loosely Based on a True Story
"Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!"
, namely the book Bringing Down The House
, this 2008 movie is about a bunch of MIT students who go to Las Vegas
and make a lot of money via card counting.
Features supporting turns from Kevin Spacey as their math professor, whose approach to things is WRONGnote
and Laurence Fishburne as a casino security officer.
Not to be confused with the Game Show 21
This movie contains examples of:
- Adorkable: Ben. He's painfully shy, timid, and naive as well as very good looking.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After Ben tells Miles about his crazy experience, all Miles latches on to is that Ben had sex with Jill.
- Double Caper
- Drink Order: The team members are told by their coach to order tonic waters with lime, so that the security personnel watching the cameras won't notice that they aren't drinking any alcohol.
- Fakin' MacGuffin: With the casino chips in the climax.
- Fixing the Game: This is a film entirely about counting cards. They also did that in Real Life. The consequences are exaggerated in the film.
- Good with Numbers: The entire team, obviously. Ben's Establishing Character Moment is tallying up a customer's (lengthy) order at a clothing store, including knocking off a percentage using his employee discount, and giving the final total, all without needing to use pen and paper or a calculator.
- Hollywood Nerd: Most of the cast, but especially Kate Bosworth's character.
- Improvised Weapon User: Cole's rings, which he keeps around only to use as an ad hoc set of brass knuckles.
- In Medias Res: The film starts with the climatic last game, and then flashes back to tell the story.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Justified, considering that they were all members of the same university chosen by a professor at that university.
- Kansas City Shuffle: The entire final run on the casino is a distraction to get Cole chasing Ben and Professor Rosa so they wouldn't notice Ben's friends counting separately. This is fairly unusual for this trope because the "real" con netted substantial less than the fake one would have.
- Karma Houdini: Cole Williams, the casino security chief. He harasses the team, is shown beating people he has caught, and at the end steals millions from the protagonist and completely gets away with it. For the record Ben is a remarkably good sport about it, even hinting that Williams deserves to retire comfortably (something he would never be able to do working for the casino).
- The Last DJ: Cole Williams is a variation. Not so much for the typical interpersonal reasons, but because new computer technology is on the verge of making him obsolete. Various small touches indicate that he is considered behind the times, like his forgetting that he isn't allowed to smoke indoors.
- Lecture as Exposition: Kevin Spacey is playing an MIT professor after all.
- Monty Hall Problem: Which the movie gets completely wrong. A student says that it doesn't matter if Monty only offers the switch when you pick the correct door, and the teacher says that's the right answer. In fact, if Monty only offers the switch when you pick the correct door, switching gives you a 100% chance of picking a goat.
- Product Placement: Bud Light and a couple of other Anheuser-Busch products got some pretty blatant plugs, complete with conveniently-faced bottle labels.
- Race Lift: In both Real Life and the book, most of the team was Asian, but all but two are white in the movie. Never mind the black guy who was there in real life.
- Scary Black Man: Laurence Fishburne as the casino's chief of security. He keeps bag full of rings just for punching people in the face!
- Secret Test: Ben's first time using the system in a live setting is simply a test to make sure he can correctly keep count even under extreme duress.
- Once More with Clarity: The film catches back up to the prologue, and this time it is shown mostly without the flashy closeups.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Not only the movie, but the book it was based on as well.
- Viva Las Vegas: In the book and real life they move around a lot, going to every place they can to avoid getting caught.