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  • Tom Hanks knows what he's doing when he puts his ha'penny's worth in as an executive producer - this has had sleeper hit written all over it from day one.

    Lovingly made, with a nicely observed, but still sweet, story of social and socialist morals in the Eighties, it is evocative and rings (mostly) true. The performances are solid, the director gets the era right; but, and here it scores great points: it also has some real soul, and though in places an exercise in capturing its time it has a real wit, and intelligence as well as deprecating humour that serve it well.

    Funny, intelligent, and definitely deeply romantic - it is also an amazing nostalgia trip for those of us who were around in Britain at that time. The production design has obviously been at great odds to make this work; from the posters in the student bedsit to the clothing it is very well thought through. Aided by a very competent script, that is just too worked through and lacks some real teeth to be really outstanding - it is much better than most American romantic comedies as it is so much more than boy meets (two) girls (and well you know the rest)...it actually touches a much wider world, and questions some values that are worth remembering. Moreover, even at its most manipulative it still somehow has real heart, and just carries you along.

    It would have been great to have balanced the many laughs with some more complex dilemmas - but this is a surprisingly rounded comedy - a definite must for those who remember Britain in 1985 - without bashing at the politics endlessly - but it is just as enjoyable as a great romantic drama-comedy in its right... the Wedding Singer with much bigger brains...

    Overall, impressive for its evocation of a lost age - before brands and spending took over the world - and it is guaranteed to make you grin - especially if you were there - and to sing - along. The theme of University Challenge alone will reduce a whole generation to wobbly nostalgic has beens. Excellent stuff, and one to be simply enjoyed.
  • Surveying the wreckage of numerous other such films - burdened at their outset with flimsy premises, one-dimensional characters, stale gimmicks that coast on the fumes of pop cultural trends, and implausible "meet-cute" situations - which could not be sustained even with big-name talent, inestimable budgets, and plague-like advertising campaigns, I was understandably sceptical as to how the "romantic comedy" aspect of this film might play out when I first sat down to watch it. In retrospect, I honestly couldn't have been more pleased. Rare indeed is the occasion when I have walked out of a theatre feeling unambiguously good about what I saw, believing that it was well worth the time and money I spent to watch it.

    The story forming the basis of "Starter for 10" is handled with a great deal of humour, sensitivity, and intelligence. At no time did any part of it feel forced or contrived, nor was it condescending. Testament to this film's openness and accessibility, the emotional connection that I formed with the primary character (James MacEvoy - may he have a long and distinguished career ahead of him) was subtly cultivated throughout, reinforced by simple - yet heartachingly truthful - moments of confusion, awkwardness, uncertainty, and disappointment of the kind anyone might experience (and probably has) in similar circumstances. "Starter for 10" masterfully captures the spirit of that time in one's life wherein a person fully enters the world and begins to establish her- or himself as an individual.

    So often, and unfortunately, it is the case that I see people on the screen with whom I cannot identify, in situations to which I cannot relate (this is typically due in part to the performers' overblown celebrity status and the general "Hollywood" gloss that is spread thickly over the top of everything). Not so where "Starter for 10" is concerned.

    Perhaps it's no coincidence that "Starter for 10" references "The Graduate," since I believe it shall, in time, prove itself a worthy descendant of that film's legacy and subsequently receive the higher profile that it deserves.
  • I attended the world premiere of "Starter for Ten" at the Toronto International Film Festival. First things first. Just as director Tom Vaughan did in introducing the film, let's get the explanation of the title out of the way. The plot centers around a group of university students competing on "University Challenge," a popular UK quiz show in which the host begins by announcing, "Starter for Ten..." The American equivalent would be, "I'll take Famous Armadillos for 20, Alex." Now that we're set in place, let's get set in time.

    This is a period piece -- 1985, to be exact. And make no mistake about it -- the filmmakers went all out to recreate the mid-80's -- sets, costumes, hair and, most importantly (for this writer, anyway) the music. And oh, what great songs. That had me from the word "go." Finally, we need a protagonist. One who is captivating enough to command 90 minutes of our time. And this is, perhaps, the crowning achievement of this film. His name is James McAvoy, and he had no less than three films screening in Toronto this year. Talk about prolific. Though a bit older than the character Brian Jackson, he's convincing as a teenager off to discover himself and of what he is capable, in school, life, and affairs of the heart. He wins us over because he commands the screen and the script, and has the eyes of innocence and vulnerability with which we can all identify. He is everyman -- every boy/man -- and no doubt we see our own coming-of-age through his eyes. Throw all those elements together with a compelling love story and you have a formula for success. I asked McAvoy after the screening what his most difficult scene was. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that he becomes emotional at times, and quite convincingly. He told me that he had to keep reminding himself that it was Brian who was sad, not James. That's powerful stuff. This is a sweet, moving film which left me wanting more. I'll take "Starter for Ten," and I think you will, too.
  • I just seen this film at a surprise screening in Glasgow and I would recommend it to all. For one it features the amazing talents of James macavoy who doesn't disappoint in this slightly coming of age, slightly romance, slightly comedy drama which turns the world of relationships inside education upside down from deep crushes to background influences. The main appeal of this film was its ability to assault the viewer with pieces of hilarious wit that seemingly come from nowhere and features an amazing 80's soundtrack including the cure, undertones and new order. Its main downers however is a host of other actors that don't really get the attention they deserve such as the room mates that seemed to be quite interesting characters and even the female lead was given less of a personality and more of a distant "that girl you view from afar who you may or may not get at the end of the movie" and she wasn't necessarily poorly acted I just felt there could have been more development to her. But other than that the film was filled with witty and somewhat realistic situations that you could compare with to some extent which added to that air of authenticity that the good ol' British movie is good for. 8 stars for acting, writing, great soundtrack and well shot. -2 stars for less character development and being somewhat predictable near the climax.
  • Starter For Ten (three stars)

    Director Tom Vaughan Writer David Nicholls Stars Ian Bonar, Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Tate Certificate 12A Running time 96 minutes Country UK / USA Year 2006

    Don't let the pathetically weak opening scene - a flashback of a university applicant as a boy, watching University Challenge and guessing the answers - put you off. Starter For Ten actually manages to get better. Although nominally about qualifying to be on the TV famous game show, the film is really a light-hearted coming-of-age drama set in the 80s. It has convincing performances and a lovingly recreated period of Thatcher Britain, when corduroy was cool and Kate Bush was for intellectuals.

    Working class Brian was not born clever - he has to work at it. Gaining entry to a posh university, he meanders through undergraduate days with a classic dilemma: do you fall in love with the intellectually attractive brunette or the blonde goddess? Karl Marx, Freud and John Lennon, like smoking hash and learning how to do blowbacks, are all part of the social landscape of what is trendy and what isn't. Half way in, the film subject matter allows plenty of social commentary on the irksome British class divisions that penetrate romance, friendship and the University Challenge team.

    Versatile Catherine Tate puts in an amiable performance as Brian's ever supportive and cooing mother: she's having an affair with the ice-cream van man ("you can hear him coming"). This enjoyable no-brainer of a movie is aided and abetted by a blistering 80s soundtrack with bands such as The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, Buzzcocks, Yazoo, The Smiths, Tears for Fears, The Undertones - and Kate Bush.

    Starter for Ten is not searing drama, but it does make a pleasant and worthwhile trip down nostalgia lane. The characters are ones we can love and care about and the movie mostly avoids predictability and cheese. If "the most important questions in life are the ones we already know the answer to," and are not exactly rocket science, the subject matter of Starter For Ten is a welcome and unpretentious antidote to the plethora of similar American teen comedies. If you like the music, it's worth going for that alone.
  • I really really enjoyed this film. No, it wasn't an in-depth "gritty" drama, probing the dark side of the mundane, nor did it hold any strong political or social message. But this is a sweet, touching and, most of all, funny film.

    Starter for Ten relies heavily on the charm and comedy of the characters in the film to carry it over a fairly weak plot, but seeing as the outcome is such a cheerful and good natured film, i have no complaints! My own favourite character was Patrick, the oh-so serious leader of the team, but all of the cast were strong and the characters all likable in their own ways.

    S.for.Ten left me with a big smile on my face- a silly, feel good British comedy which doesn't take itself too seriously. Enjoy!
  • badgerman6917 September 2006
    A very funny film that does not patronise.You believe enough in the characters to care and because of that the gags work.Killer performances and a soundtrack to die for.

    I don't know when it's due for release. it was meant be November but at the screening I went to they were very tight lipped about such a date. I hope it's not too far off as it's looking like a good year for u.k. films in general.

    I never went to University myself(where the film is set)but I felt I got all the jokes and enjoyed seeing into a world I didn't know. And if all the girls at Uni look like Hall and Eve then I'm thinking of a bit of mature studentship might be just the thing.
  • If you don't like this movie, you just don't have a heart. I read some of the reviews here and they claim it's an American movie with an American budget and it does not portray england as it is/was. give me a break. It's a wonderful movie. I suppose you can say something like that about every movie. I live in Bangkok, do I think 'the beach' is the real Thailand? Hollywood has done far worse. Movies are movies, and thanks god this one is a great movie, with a great leading man/boy. He is probably a bit too old for the role, but he plays so well, that you forget about his age and you will enjoy this movie. Don't believe the negative reviews.
  • "Starter for 10" is a 2006 British film set in 1985 about a working class young man, Brian Jackson (James McAvoy) who attends Bristol University on scholarship and is accepted on the team of "University Challenge," a televised college quiz show. He's crazy for a hot blonde on the team, Alice (Alice Eve). After a disastrous post-Christmas visit to her house when his penchant for movie quotes gets him in trouble, he spends New Year's Eve with another girl, the more grounded and politically active Rebecca Epstein (Rebecca Hall) -- but when he wishes her Happy New Year, he calls her Alice. He has a habit of blowing it, and the best is yet to come.

    I actually sought out this film because I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. Here, Cumberbatch plays the fastidious nerdy head of the College Quiz team (even though they keep losing), and he's hilarious. When he gets into a fight with one of Brian's friends from home, the guy punches him, and Cumberbatch's response is to start flapping his hands on him as if he's shaking out a dishtowel.

    The acting in this film is very good, and it's interesting to see that all these young people have come up together. Cumberbatch and Eve are in the upcoming Star Trek; Rebecca Hall and Cumberbatch starred in the miniseries "Parade's End," and McAvoy, of course, has had a marvelous career, making a splash in films right around the time this film was released. The supporting cast is led by the wonderful Lindsay Duncan and Charles Dance as Alice's parents, and Catherine Tate as Brian's mother.

    While "Starter for 10" is a little predictable, it has a nice quality about it and gives one a feel for university life, leaving home, meeting new people, and the adjustments that need to be made.
  • Though he's been acting since 1995, young James McAvoy is poised to become the next great European import based on his kindly faun Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia and his wide-eyed work in The Last King of Scotland alongside Forest Whittaker's fierce Idi Amin. Yet sometimes a performer's measure isn't in their solid ensemble acting, but how they carry a minor work with the sheer force of talent or personality.

    McAvoy's turn in Starter for Ten as frosh geek Brian Jackson, at University in 1985, is wondrously physical and inspired. He's graced with an infinitely pliable, benevolent face that's both plain and handsome. As a smart, shy working class boy, still reeling from the loss of his father years ago, McAvoy wields Jackson's intelligence as both sword and shield – he draws you to him with his wit, and keeps you at arm's length with the same. For all his smarts, he's at a loss when drawn to both the enigmatic Julie (the piercingly funny Catherine Tate) – a partner on the school's quiz team – and the politically active Rebecca (the gangly beauty Rebecca Hall who hits low vocal notes reminiscent of Emma Thompson).

    Directed by Tom Vaughan from an agile screenplay by David Nicholls, Starter for Ten is the best movie John Hughes would have made if he was English and set his comedies in college instead of high school. Though predictable and erratically paced, there's a real suggestion of university life in it. And McAvoy's creation wrings true emotion. He has a showcase scene in a restaurant where he goes from laughter to tears within the same sentence – you're with him all the way. The movie is an entertaining piffle, but it serves notice that you just might be watching the birth of a star.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Why oh why does British cinema persist time and time again with the same formula? 1. Grab a handful of ubiquitous British actors/comedians -in this case James McAvoy, Catherine Tate, Charles Dance, Mark Gatiss and more. 2. Find a 'quirky' subject on which to hang a romantic comedy, in this case that great British favourite University Challenge. 3. Add every kind of possible cliché you can - gawky student falls for pretty girl but ends up with nice one, said student neglects his studies, acts like a prat in rejecting his true mates from back home but ends up coming to his senses in a life-affirming finale. 4. Add a very unsubtle theme about either race or class. In this film our 'hero' is the Essex son of a single mother and his friend back home is unemployed, in trouble with the police but is still rooting for him to succeed at Uni. How sweet. 5. Add an awkward sex scene for light relief. 6. Set it in the past. Any decade is fine, with a particular penchant for the 70s, 80s (as in this film and countless others where Thatcherism looms in the background) or the 19th century.

    What I find extraordinary is that British critics berate Hollywood for coming up with clichéd blockbusters yet our film industry persists in churning out the same bittersweet feel-good romantic comedies. James McAvoy (as always) makes a horribly conceited, unappealing lead character but I have to say that my reason for despising every second of this atrocious film had less to do with him and more to do with the comatosed script and direction which contained not an ounce of either soul or originality.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a really nice film. I have just seen it for the 4th time. Set in 1985, it begins, however, when Brian is younger. Sat in front of the the TV with his Mum and Dad watching University Challenge. It sets up exactly what sort of person Brian is and what he wants to become. Mark Gatiss has an astonishing likeness to presenter Bamber Gascoine in these scenes that it seems you are watching the actual show!

    Action, soon moves to '85 and we learn that Brian's Dad had passed away 9 years earlier. It is here where the great soundtrack kicks in. Alright, a few of the songs came out after 1985 but we won't quibble too much about that. There are some great songs throughout the film from the likes of The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, Tears For Fears, New Order, The Undertones, The Style Council and many more. There are at least four songs by The Cure too. All of which work well in the film. I very much like the allusion to how terrible it would be to become the sort of person who plays Kate Bush, then we here Brian listening to her very softly in scene on New Years Eve, with Rebecca.

    James Corden makes a brief appearance once or twice in the film. Dominic Cooper's journey as Spencer and how it affects other people plays well. Catherine Tate, even though she is only a few years older than James McAvoy in reality, comes across as a very lovely character in playing Brian's Mum. A special mention also to the wonderful Bendedict Cumberbatch who shines as the bitter, obnoxious yet likable Patrick. His journey is more subtle in the film but he becomes a better person too.

    Rebecca Hall and Alice Eve play, ironically, Rebecca and Alice, and here is the great subtleness of this film. Alice comes over very sweet and you find yourself loving her character to begin with. She is the archetypal blonde bombshell. She is, however, clever enough to answer the good questions on the quiz team and once again that is the subtleness of the film. McAvoy isn't your typical geek and Eve isn't your typical dumb blonde. Her character plays out as a bit of a reckless, sexual and fickle girl but very intelligent. You can't help being drawn to her in certain parts of the film. Rebecca is your alternative, political activist, sensible thinking and, i must say, very very attractive girl. Both in natural beauty, intelligence and personality. You, again, find yourself falling for her as well, but for different, better reasons!!! This, by the way was Hall's first feature film.

    The film follows the trials and tribulations of sorting a team for the filming of University Challenge, Brian's rising yearning for Alice, then Rebecca then Alice again. His studies suffer and he seems to get lost on his journey.

    Without going into too much detail, when Brian returns from Alice after the debacle of staying for New Year, he meets up with Rebecca and the scene when it is approaching midnight, and with only two minutes to go she asks him how they can waste time as they sit side by side on his bed, the tenderness and beauty of her approach to kiss him, and how they kiss, is really touching and feels very real.

    There are so many moments that are really lovely in this film like the importance of Brians' Dad's jacket to Brian, his learning curve about who he is and his journey, to name just a few. The moment on the date with Alice when he cries, talking about his Dad, on original viewing was a emotional moment, but having recently lost my Mother, i found this now very upsetting, yet beautifully played. The song "The Hurting" by Tears For fears works perfectly as Brian makes the earth shattering mistake with the question, near the end of the film. His shame and how he feels is really emphasised by that song. A great choice.

    The message of the film is as simple as this: No matter what mistakes you have made, it is what you do next that matters. You can't lock yourself away forever when you make a mistake or something bad happens. Having been struggling with grief lately, i gained the realisation that this is happening to me. It made me realise that the only person that can put things back on track, is me! It is funny how life experience can alter you feelings towards a film and can change what affect it has to you on later viewings.

    Once Brian, having shut himself away for a long while, faces his demons and returns to Bristol University, the first thing he does is search out Rebecca. Bumping into Alice on the way he quickly tells her it is not her he is looking for. Then, when he find Rebecca, and they talk, the sincere way he asks if she can forgive him for all his mistakes, the way she tells him he already knows the answer to that and the wonderful way they kiss once again, is just so beautiful. I have to say is one of the the most beautiful kisses i have ever seen on film. The way they are pressing themselves into once another and the way their lips touch and the gorgeous smile Rebecca gives as they kiss is really moving. It is like no one else matters and no one else is around them, even though they are surrounded by hundreds of people.

    This is a great, feel good movie. It won't blow you away but it will make you smile. A film i will watch again and again. Perhaps in a year it may have even more profound effect on me, when i am back on the road of my journey.
  • Having read and enjoyed the book, I'm afraid I was fairly disappointed with the adaptation. They've removed a lot of the bleak stuff that makes the book funny, and upped the schmaltz factor. Maybe they thought that this would appeal more to American audiences, but whereas the humour in the book is more akin to "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Office" - where you cringe as you're laughing - they've tried to turn the film into a university version of "Love Actually".

    They've made the character of Brian far more sympathetic. He has his faults in the book - he can be insensitive, selfish and tactless, but you still root for him. In the film, he is now more of a victim of circumstance.

    And another major problem is that Rebecca Hall is completely miscast as Rebecca. In the book, the character is a complete contrast to Alice: a short, dark, aggressive, Jewish Scot. Here she and Alice are like interchangeable Barbie dolls: one blonde, one brunette. So Brian ultimately has to choose between two identically leggy posh girls. Oh - and she's too old as well!

    Having said that, Benedict Cumberbatch is great, and the "University Challenge" recreation spot on, with a fantastically accurate performance from Mark Gatiss as Bamber.

    Ultimately, though, the film feels inconsequential and a bit pointless. An original and entertaining novel has been fed into the Hollywood sausage machine and come out far the worse for it. Go and read the book instead would be my advice...
  • "Starter for 10" is an independent comedy that succeeds in its own funny, charming and quirky way. James McAvoy plays Brian, our central character that goes off to university to first achieve his dreams and prove his intelligence and then secondly he might meet some girls. Of course girls get in the way of everything.

    Brian is one of the best characters that this genre has seen. He's very funny in a subtle self-effacing kind of way, and completely relatable. You fall in love with him as he falls for the charms of Alice and tries to appear cool to Rebecca. He's also desperate to succeed on the University Challenge team and know he's clever. Isn't it frustrating when girls always get in the way?

    This film is set in the 1980s, so beware of bad hair and poor fashion, but enjoy the trip.
  • jemmasculpt30 August 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    hmm, yes. we British must really annoy the Americans. by producing so many lame predictable films. ten minutes into this you know everything thats going to happen, and so the rest of just got on my nerves i'm afraid. worst moment was when James Macavoy got off with the girl you know hes going to end up with anyway and - gasp - says the other girls name. not because that might happen but because it helps drag out the nonexistent drama for another half hour. oh and every five minutes another eighties 'classic' is dropped into the soundtrack in the desperate attempt to create a feeling of nostalgia. i suppose this is to help sell the film and they do a pretty good job in recreating the look of the period. but thats not enough, i want an interesting story dammit. one good point was the guy playing bamber gasgoigne. if the whole film had been about universtiy challenge it might have been worth watching but as it is... gosh, this film annoyed me more than i thought.
  • Sat through an advanced screening of Starter for Ten several days ago. This film will probably regarded as a 'gem' by those desperate to prop up our pathetic film industry. In reality, it's sad and formulaic little effort from people who'd be better off writing sitcoms. The film largely stands or falls on the performance of James McAvoy, best known for his role in Shameless. He fails utterly to carry this film, lacking either the wit or humility to play a genuine loser. The fact he's about ten years to old for the role does rather grate as well. The plot unwinds at such a predictable rate you can watch the signposts go past and the resolution is so obvious it's like walking round your living room for 90 minutes. Most of the supporting actors shuffle through their roles, as if dreaming of better things. We have such talent available to us in this country, why is it that only Americans seem to know how to harness it.
  • This is not a great film by any means, but a gently enjoyable comedy. There are some very funny moments, most of them involving Benedict Cumberbatch's pompous Patrick. The shaky period sense is a bit distracting - the music is all over the place, and surely no one in the mid-80s used the expression 'we'll just hang out', for instance? The acting is fine, with one really exceptional performance from Rebecca Hall. She has that rare quality of seeming completely spontaneous; her lines don't seem rehearsed but completely natural. She has huge charm and if there is any justice she will be a big star, and not just because of her family connections - this girl acts everyone else off the screen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As far as the book always being better goes, I would assume this to be true in the case of Starter For Ten, despite having never read it. The film seems to have been promoted as a romantic comedy, but it doesn't really come across as being one. There are so many other things going on--the quiz team, Spencer's run-in with the law, his mum finding a new boyfriend, all of that stuff--that the focus is no longer on a single character's love life. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it's interesting and prevents everything for turning into nauseating nonstop romance, but a story so complex cannot be fully developed in a film that's just over an hour and a half long. It's certainly not a bad film, but can be a bit rushed and I'd like to read the book at some point.

    That being said, James McAvoy is fantastic. He's perfectly awkward, charming, and endearing. He has great chemistry with the rest of the cast, particularly Dominic Cooper. The cinematography is also effective; there are some nice little editing things that work well. Although the pacing can be too fast, I highly recommend Starter For Ten. It's an overall great feel-good movie.
  • triumph-tsx27 November 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Like the fictional Bristol University Challenge team, so much potential recklessly thrown away ! So many interesting characters undeveloped, unexplored, unexploited from ice cream man Des and Brian's bizarre flatmates to Lucy Chang (why did she alone run up to comfort obnoxious Tristram ?) Instead, a captivating introduction ended abruptly in a tagged on, rushed ending of unbelievable banality and unashamed cliché as Brian (wonderfully portrayed throughout by McAvoy)ran into the arms of sweet, quirky Jewess, Rebecca, rejecting shallow, vain gentile Alice (Is this anti-gentile racism? Would it be anti-semitic if the roles were reversed ?). Alice's promiscuity is portrayed with heavy reference to Andie McDowall's 'Four Weddings...' list of entries which can be stomached were it not for rushed manner of her ultimate denouement.

    Yes, so what's new, student romances are rushed, clumsy affairs but this does not mean this film should have so lost confidence and ended that way,too.

    The most interesting aspect, the University Challenge quiz had no satisfactory conclusion- what about the team member's fortunes both during and after the quiz ? Their -especially Tristram's (forget shallow Alice's) -, the university's, the TV company's, his family's and Bamber's reaction to Brian betrayal of his principals and his team was far far more an interesting core than the usual plot 'device' of the ultimate identity of Brian's girlfriend (yawn). This could have been Quiz Show with laughs- British laughs, at that ! This is a film that promised much , introducing wonderful characters but lost confidence so dramatically, the ending seemed nothing more than a tacked- on afterthought.

    A waste of money at the high prices West End cinemas are asking these days- wait for it on TV to catch the excellent acting and build-up then switch off and make the tea when the University Challenge scenes end.

    I would give it more than 4/10 but the bitterness of my disappointment is such, it deserves less for promising more
  • mandydemoo28 February 2007
    I saw this over the weekend with my roommates. I wasn't that interested in seeing it because the title was kind of weird but it made sense once I watched it.... Basically, it's this boy who goes to college. It isn't really the path well trodden for his part of town, but his dead father was always talking about how important knowledge is. At school, he joins this team to enter a TV game show that he used to watch with his father, where the first question is worth 10 points... Hence Starter for 10. Clever no? Anyway, it was hilarious, they're a great cast. Both girls look amazing and play their roles really well. I absolutely loved all the 80s pop culture stuff, seeing how it played out in Britain (it was sort of before my time). Brilliantly written.
  • Just read the book of this film and then immediately watched the movie, and have to say the old cliché is right, the films isn't as good as the book.

    SPOILERS!!!! There are some key changes in the storyline which change the dynamics of some of the relationships.

    In the book Spencer is a good friend of his who tries to get him and Alice together and Brian unfairly shuns him after the fight thinking he was hitting on Alice. In the film Spencer is a slime ball who betrays him, when in the book she sleeps with Jackson and then sees another guy at university. Why David Nicholls felt he had to change the characters I don't know, pacing of the film I guess.

    Movie version Jackson really doesn't match up to the book version, he is painfully embarrassing in the book and much funnier than in the film, although I wonder how that would have looked on film.
  • This film has to be one of my favourites since I was forced to watch it by cultural people. Luckily I was not disappointed.

    The general story is of a Brian (McAvoy), an intelligent and clever young man who after going to university in Bristol, joins the University Challenge team. During this time, he falls for an attractive blonde on the team called Alice (Eve) while being completely oblivious to the affections of the beautiful intellectual, Rebecca Epstein (Hall).

    The film has a great cast and some good comedy moments. A great cast, and some good dialogue. There's not much else to say about it, but that if you ever feel unhappy and depressed, watch this gem, it will not disappoint in cheering you up.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Starter For 10 is a British romantic comedy about a man named Brian (James McAvoy), who, ever since boyhood, dreamed of being on the trivia show University Challenge. So, when he goes off to college, that is his main goal. The only thing standing in the way is his crush on a girl on his team named Alice (Alice Eve), and another crush named Rebecca (Rebecca Hall). They both distract him from trying to complete his life long goal of being on University Challenge. McAvoy is very good here, doing a unique and interesting way of acting, and the film is extremely entertaining. The love triangle between Brian, Alice, and Rebecca just add to the fun of the film. Eve and Hall are also quite good here, they're both so sweet and soft spoken, which is the kind of performance I like in a romantic comedy. The film is very lightweight, so you don't feel like you're watching a raunchy comedy like some romantic comedies make you feel like. The film is also carried by music by bands like The Cure and The Smiths. The film should not be rated PG-13 as it is very cute and innocent with no real sexuality or bad language. I am definitely recommending Starter For 10.
  • I can vaguely remember this film getting a roundly solid review from Empire Magazine several years ago before then disappearing never to be seen again in a UK cinema release that was somewhat less than banner. I carried on with my life regardless, move house several times, had a few relationships and then suddenly Starter for Ten popped back up on terrestrial TV this Christmas just gone. I recorded it as I was out but then it sat on my HD for several months before I decided to watch it. Why do I tell you so much of this detail? Well, because it turns out that my approach to the film was more or less what it deserved.

    Perhaps that sounds a bit harsh, but what I mean is that this film is certainly not one that is particularly memorable or worth writing home about (I appreciate the irony in me writing that phrase). It isn't bad though because it does have a certain comic charm and ambling curiosity to the story that held my attention. I didn't find myself caring too much about the plot or the characters but I was amused enough to be carried along with it. Amused is the right word though because the film isn't really all that funny in terms of pure laugh-out-loud moments and this, along with not really caring for the characters does contribute to the feeling of not really watching something that is anything other than a bit of light entertainment.

    In retrospect, the film will gain from the comparatively rapid rise to fame of McAvoy (who now has the mark of a "star" because he has done the lead in a terrible action movie). He is frighteningly young here but he does manage to deliver a geeky character while also keeping him appealing and engaging. Both Eve and Hall are attractive and likable in their parts; neither has a lot of depth due to the material but they pitch their performances right for the tone of the film. Of no consequence to the enjoyment of the film for most, the casting but lack of use of Elaine Tan was a shame because she is not only stunning but also very, very good at being light and gorgeous (ref 420 Seconds of Love) as was required by the film and perhaps this may have made the film more engaging by having Brian's other relationship also be within the team. Supporting turns from Cumberbatch, Corden, Cooper, Dance etc vary with the material but are mostly good enough for this.

    Starter for 10 is aptly named because it is very much a starter rather than a main course (I apologise for the lameness of that sentence but I'll leave it in since I am an amateur). It is light and enjoyable to a certain extent but it is neither funny enough nor engaging enough to really satisfy.
  • gambleuk12 January 2007
    I went last night to see Starter For Ten a British based film with the excellent young up and coming actor James McVoy.

    Not an awful film but not as clever as it would like to be, I did like it, I just felt it was trying to be more than it was. It felt like the writers were trying to be Richard Curtis but failing with the actual cleverness of his writing, timing and general script play.

    The title is taken from the well known, in the UK, University Challenge and a young lad who always wants more knowledge and generally dreams of better things for himself, an opening gambit:

    "Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be clever. Some people are born clever, same way some people are born beautiful. I'm not one of those people" The problem I had with it is I felt the jokes coming before they did, you could almost script it yourself around the usual 'My Family' style sitcom, which in it's place has it's very funny moments but wouldn't hold up on the silver screen.

    The parts I actually liked more were when it seemed to ad lib slightly, a little turn of phrase, but overall underwhelmed.

    It's not a nasty film by any stroke of the imagination, it's got a certain warmth, it's probably trying to hard and that's it ultimate downfall.

    I'd recommend but on DVD when you have time to catch up on recent movies.

    -------- Reading other entries I can now understand why it was a certain way as I've discovered the American backing...that explains a Lot! I have however included my original opinion.
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