Starter for Ten (3 stars)

(12A) 96min

Brian (James McAvoy), a geeky student, finds love and fulfils an ambition to appear on University Challenge when he becomes the first member of his family to win a place at university in 1985. Leaving behind his best mates Spencer (Dominic Cooper) and Tone (James Corden) to suffer the foibles of Thatcherite policies, fresh-faced Brian arrives in Bristol and enters a world approximate to John Hughes-scripted 80s benchmark Some Kind of Wonderful. Unfathomably, two chicks fancy the gauche Brian -blond university babe Eve (Alice Eve) and his best mate, the supposedly gawky feminist Rebecca (Rebecca Hall). As in Some Kind of Wonderful, the problem is that the dowdy girl is too cool and good looking for there to be any doubts as to who Brian should and will end up with. The expositional and predictable relationship is rescued from tedium by an excellent post-new wave soundtrack. Plus there is one great gag referencing Nichol’s The Graduate. In total contrast to the drab relationship, the sequences dealing with Brian’s forthcoming appearance on University Challenge are extremely amusing - the ambience of the show is recreated in all its naff glory. So much so, that it’s almost possible to gloss over the romantic comedy’s many wrong answers.

Starter for Ten

  • 3 stars
  • 2006
  • UK / US
  • 1h 36min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Tom Vaughan
  • Written by: David Nicholls
  • Cast: James McAvoy, Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall, Dominic Cooper

Brian (McAvoy) is the first member of his family to go to university, where he finds the love of two girls and a perfectly reconstructed 'University Challenge'. While the love story is predictable, the amusing quiz show storyline and excellent post-new wave soundtrack almost make up for it.

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