YMMV / 21

For the film:

  • Critical Research Failure: Likely to avoid actual card counters spawning out of the woodwork, the film's version of counting is more than a little impossible in real life.
  • Fridge Logic: The movie portrays card counting as extremely difficult, requiring top students from MIT. But if you've the attention span to sit through the movie you can learn just about everything you NEED to know to start counting cards. Ben Campbell seems to be studying day and night for at least a few weeks to learn what you can get the gist of in about 15-30 minutes. Also, if Ben Campbell is so smart and is reading books about card counting how come he doesn't know the dangers?
    • As I understood it, most of his studying time was to understand and perfect the team's convoluted communication system.
    • The principle is indeed easy to understand, but try doing this without making mistakes for several hours. This is a job for people Good with Numbers.
    • True, but in the case of card counting being Good with Numbers does not amount to complex math, just very rigorous and quick mental arithmetic. Mind you, some of the more advanced techniques that were used by the real MIT team (such as ace tracking) are a lot more complex than the basic high-low running count.
    • The techniques alone in the film are a severely watered-down version of how it should be carried out. If you try to do it exactly the way it was done in the film, you will lose money.
  • Internet Backdraft: Sites including "boycott21.com" popped up in the aftermath of the whitewash casting controversy.
  • The Woobie: Ben. He starts the film trapped in a lowpaying job and crap lifestyle, gets a taste of the high life only to have it knocked from under him in the most brutal fashion, has the money he saved for college stolen by his mentor, gets beaten up and robbed by Cole, isolates his friends and gets kicked off a project He spent a year working on, and ends the film without any benefit from his efforts. Though he at least seems to get into Harvard so maybe the ending threw the old dog a bone.
    • Considering his goal from the get-go is to get into Harvard, and most of the first act centers around him learning about the scheme and talking about how he's only joining to get enough money to afford a Harvard degree, it isn't really "Throwing the dog a bone" so much as it is the solution to the actual conflict of the film.

For the Game Show:

  • Never Live It Down: Became synonymous with the quiz show scandals when they were exposed in the late 1950s. Also responsible for all three networks being saddled with laws enforced by Standards and Practices, many of which are still in effect today.