See it: Yes (and read the book)
I’m no book snob. I liked the book Jurassic Park, but I think I liked the movie better. And Fight Club was a much better movie than book (which is a tribute to how amazing the movie is because the book is pretty good). I could go on and on, but my point is this: I give every book and movie an equal opportunity to impress me.
I was impressed by both the movie 21, and the book that inspired it, Bringing Down the House. Which is better? The book is a better book, and the movie is a better movie. In other words, both are well done and appropriate for their genres.
I do actually prefer the story of the book (the true story) over the screen adaptation, however it probably wouldn’t have made a very popular movie. The book is much more real. It’s messy and chaotic, and since it’s a true story, it defies formulas and nice tidy endings. It would have been hard to squeeze into two hours, and it would have played out more like a documentary. And finally, I doubt it would have gotten the applause that the movie received from the audience in the theater.
The movie is clearly a Hollywood version of the book: good looking actors (MIT math geniuses probably don’t clean up quite this well), retribution, the good guys winning in the end. It was essentially a heist movie inspired by true events which made it more fun than amazing or inspirational.
The movie was entertaining. The book was amazing. Both of these things are good.
Oh, and if you were confused by the "game show host problem" discussed in the variable equations math class, it is more commonly known as the Monty Hall problem, and is fascinating and fun (insofar as probability can be).
Funny you mention the book would make a good documentary, because there is a documentary on the MIT black jack team which plays on the Discovery or History channel (I don’t know which). Check you local listings it probably will get heavy rotation since the movie came out. I saw it a couple years ago and it was very interesting.