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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
his age and you will enjoy this movie. Don't believe the negative reviews.
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 <more>
Eve then I'm thinking of a bit of mature studentship might be just the thing.
Leaves a smile on your face - plain and simple. (by SprngsEternal)
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 <more>
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.
Sweet little movie. Very British. Charming and homely (by bopdog)
The plot's easy. And BTW--- the title refers to a quiz question worth ten points, not appetizers for 10 people. A boy impresses the Bristol Uni admissions committee with his passion for learning, and gets a seat. All his life he followed his late father's admonition that 'knowledge is power', so he responds to a flyer advertising the an audition for a place on the local Bristol Uni team for TV's University Challenge.The movie isn't really about the famous TV quiz show, nor his ultimate appearance on it. It's more of a coming of age movie. He meets a couple of hot <more>
girls, and falls at first for the 'pretty' one. His inexperience with smoking pot and sex create fumbles that turn her off, basically. Then she hops into bed with his best mate from back home in Essex. meanwhile, the sardonic 'socialist' girl at school is intriguing, at a distance, and he ultimately comes to realize the her wholesome good looks and intense integrity are more worthy and appealing. Etc., etc.Kind of a predictable plot. It seems that at every turn the boy is coming to terms with something--- first time as a boy-cum-man. He learns to respect and like his mom's new boyfriend, his professors, and school life.What makes this film so charming are the unknown actors giving it their all. The meticulous recreation of 1985 Bristol and university life is also a plus for the viewer. There were times when the boy's naiveté was annoying. Times when the momentum of the movie seemed to plod on so slooooowly. But overall, I was charmed. It was sweet.Here's the spoiler bit--- at the end, when the quiz team are backstage at the TV studio awaiting their turn to appear, a stage manager leaves his clip board on a chair next to where the boy is sitting alone. Out of mere curiosity, he picks up the clip board, and is immediately intrigued by a kraft envelope--- he peeks inside, and sees one of the upcoming quiz questions. He is a bit shocked by what he sees--- he was not intending to 'cheat', so he immediately puts the stack of question cards back into their envelope and reseals it. He is also reassured by the single question he saw, because he knew the answer--- for him, it was easy.Later, in the final few moments of the show, when his team is about to pull a 'Rocky' and beat the snooty Queen's College, Oxford team, the kid is on a roll, and pushing the buzzer lightning quick, and answering question after question. When the presenter just begins to speak the one question the kid happened to accidentally see, the kid buzzes in and blurts the answer. There is a stunned silence. the announcer says 'We might as well stop recording now', because it appeared as if the boy had been fed the questions beforehand. So much for the big sports-movie, 'Rocky' finish.The way that is dealt with by his family, his friends, and his professors is also very illuminating--- showing us a realism. Not the only possible reality, to be sure, but a real-enough one. It was heartening and uplifting to see the resolutions of all the threads throughout the movie.Faults--- yes, there are some faults. The microphone boom was visible at the top of the screen for fully 1/4 of the film. I have heard that can be due to the theater projectionist framing the film incorrectly. Dunno. But it was weird. A few of the scenes seemed set-up, and again, the behavior of the boy, and some of the other kid's, as too cute and somewhat annoying at times.But those flaws are part of the charm, I think. This feels like a first-timer's directorial debut. I enjoyed myself, and feel all those involved have great futures ahead of them in The Biz.
An English student leaves home for university. His love for knowledge propels him through love, lust, and competition. (by katiealbion)
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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.
University Challenged - A love song to the other British Eighties... (by intelearts)
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, <more>
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.
Genuinely fun comedy, with a heart of gold....! (by hannah-226)
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 <more>
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!