Starter For Ten

Starter For Ten


Reviewed by: Chris

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 famous TV game show, the film is really a light-hearted coming-of-age drama set in the Eighties. It has convincing performances and a lovingly recreation of Thatcher's 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's subject matter allows plenty of social commentary on the irksome British class divisions that penetrate romance, friendship and the University Challenge team.

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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 Eighties 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 for 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.

Reviewed on: 15 Nov 2006
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A love triangle amongst university quizers and class-conscious students.
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Sam Moore **

Director: Tom Vaughan

Writer: David Nicholls, based on the novel by David Nicholls

Starring: James McAvoy, Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall, Charles Dance, Lindsay Duncan, Elaine Tan, Simon Woods, Raj Ghatak, Ian Bonar, Dominic Cooper

Year: 2006

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK/US


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