Director: Tom Vaughan
Writer: David Nicholls
Based On: “Starter For 10” By David Nicholls
Starring: James McAvoy, Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall
Country: United Kingdom
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 96 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
USA Release: 3/9/2007
On DVD (USA): 7/31/2007
Ask anyone and you wouldn’t be surprised that at some point in their life they have done something extremely stupid. Looking back of course you can see the error of your ways, but during the moment, you would have sworn it was the best decision of your life. Sometimes well in more cases than one, it would be over someone you liked or possible even loved, as human beings that’s just are nature, from time to time we screw up, but it is what we do next that matters, hopefully it won’t be another stupid thing. This is just the case in “Starter For 10” a wonderfully sweet and smart British romantic comedy (set in 1985) based on the novel by David Nicholls (who also wrote the script).
In “Starter For 10” we meet Brian Jackson, his ultimate quest in life is to know everything, and I really mean everything. Growing up he and his father would watch “University Challenge” a popular quiz show. As Brian’s thirst for knowledge grew he was bound determined to get on the quiz show to make his dad proud. After getting into Bristol University he never would have guessed that University Challenge would be so close. It all happened thanks to his new roommates taking him to a party where unfortunately he meets what has to be the weirdest guy in the whole university but thankfully Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) an activist saves him from the tormented conversation, leading him to later leave the party and find a flyer for University Challenge team tryouts. As luck would have it there he meets Alice (Alice Eve) but thanks to him giving her a couple of answers he doesn’t make it on the team. But after a teammate has an accident he has now got a spot, showing in the qualifying quiz everything he has stored in his brain. And with that he bucks up the courage to ask Alice out for his birthday dinner, love seems to be in the air or maybe it’s like.
From the start of the movie you really get a sense for the time, even if you didn’t grow up then. As far as the people responsible for it, I quite enjoyed Tom Vaughan’s directing, (this was his feature film directorial debut) I felt that he kept true to the look and feel of the time and also provided a killer soundtrack that only boasted the ratings in my book. Speaking of the soundtrack seeing as this is a British film, some of the songs might have been bigger hits over there then here in the States, but none the less you will still feel the need to jam out with all of the great and fitting music. What really brought this together of course was the writing, which was done by the author of the book (Which is always a smart idea) David Nicholls, penned a fantastic script (I haven’t read the book yet, but if the script is anything like the book then I know I’ll greatly enjoy it too), it’s a slice of life story about a young man going into college and what he deals with in his first year. He wanted to learn everything but only for his dad and the quiz show. It might have some elements that are typical for a romantic-comedy but it is done in such a smart way and is surrounded by a great story that you don’t really notice it. And that is thanks in part to the cast and also the supporting cast that had a bunch of wonderful actors and actresses to just add to everything. But ultimately a movie is rests on the main cast and it’s ability to bring the story to us and keep us entertained, and with that they succeeded 100% in that.
Although everyone in the main cast did well, I did feel that they did have a one problem and that was Alice Eve, for her unfortunately she and her acting ability are as transparent as the character she plays. She seems to fit the personality of the character, a blatant user who thinks she can get whatever she wants because she and everyone else thinks she’s hot, and she shows no remorse for it. Although I’m hoping I’m wrong and that maybe she will one day get a role to show that she can act, until then all we have is a handful of roles where she plays the exact character over and over again. Don’t let that discourage you because Rebecca Hall is the shining light in the main actress department. Her character is down to earth, and although it isn’t confirmed in the movie it seems she and Alice are at least a year older then James McAvoy’s Brian, as they seem to have more experience in school. Through out the movie we watch as she tries to hide the fact that she is in love with him, she keeps an eye on him and is probably the only one in the university that actually cares about him. She will always forgive him no matter what he does. Hall performance was great as always I thought she had great chemistry with McAvoy and I would love to see them work together again. This was also her first feature film, but the ease that she brought made it seem like she had been in front of the camera for years. As for James McAvoy he gave another fantastic performance, showing he can certainly carry the lead as seen in many of his role after this film. He is a fine actor and looks to have a great career ahead of him. Throughout the movie we watch as Brian changes from starting out as the boy trying to be the same kind of man that his father was, but after a ton of mistakes he learns he must be himself. And yes he might have lost focus the second he saw Alice, but he soon adapts to college and in the end gets the right girl.
In the end this turned into being one of my favorite movies. With a wonderful cast that boast a surprisingly great and fresh romantic-comedy. That along with the soundtrack makes you feel as if you are right there witnessing everything. This is a movie that passed by unnoticed but don’t let that stop you, if you can find it watch it, you won’t be disappointed.