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Saturday, April 05, 2008

21

Two and a half years ago I wrote a brief negative review of Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, by Ben Mezrich. I suggested that the account seemed to be fictional (even though it claims to be non-fiction) and that it “alternates between melodrama and tedium.”

Now they’ve gone and made a movie of it, 21. The plot outline on IMDb asserts that the movie is a “fact-based story,” But Drake Bennett’s article about it in the Boston Globe has this comment on the original book:
Bringing Down the House is not a work of “nonfiction” in any meaningful sense of the word. Instead of describing events as they happened, Mezrich appears to have worked more as a collage artist, drawing some facts from interviews, inventing certain others, and then recombining these into novel scenes that didn’t happen and characters who never lived. The result is a crowd-pleasing story, eagerly marketed by his publishers as true — but which several of the students who participated say is embellished beyond recognition.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the Globe article certainly makes me skeptical. Read the article, not the book.

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