For this month’s next entry for Genre Grandeur February – Coming of Age movie’s, here’s a review of Starter for 10 (2006) by Emma of EmmaKWall.com
Thanks again to Justine of Justine’s movie blog for choosing this month’s genre.
Next month’s Genre, chosen by Anna of Film Grimoire will be Latin Director movies. To participate, send me your review to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25th Mar. Thanks to Anna for a great and diverse choice.
Let’s see what Emma thought of this movie:
My chosen film for Genre Grandeur is Starter for 10. Thanks so much to Justine for choosing such a brilliant genre to write about. As soon as I heard what it was I thought it was absolute genius. And of course thanks to Rob for hosting the brilliant GG each month!
Starter for 10 is a 2006 British comedy/drama starring James McAvoy, Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s set in 1985 and follows main character Brian Jackson (McAvoy) as he leaves his home in Essex for independent life at Bristol University. A very big deal, especially for Brian who comes from a working class background. The story pretty much follows his time at uni and has the usual sorts of plots you may except to find – falling in love, embarrassing himself, trying to impress people, going to parties (and embarrassing himself), trying to find himself as a person, self-loathing and of course – being on University Challenge – one of Brian’s personal ambitions.
I better just explain quickly that ‘Starter for 10’ is a phrase taken from real-life BBC2 quiz show University Challenge. Teams of ridiculously clever students from different universities compete against each other until only one university is left and crowned winner. I believe the US has a similar equivalent called College Bowl?
Anyway, University Challenge features in this film and is really a basis for the plot. But it is everything that leads up to that moment – plus the characters, hilarious situations and of course Brian himself – that make this film really, really special.
I actually read the book (many times) before watching the film and it is one of my all-time favourites. It’s such a funny story! The poignancy and love story are great, but to be honest the main reason I love it so much is undoubtedly the humour – it’s so bloody funny. Luckily the translation from book to film was extremely good. Original author David Nicholls (yes he wrote One Day – but please don’t let that put you off) actually wrote the screenplay so the writing is solid and true to the original story.
Brian is a complex character. He is undoubtedly intelligent but though he is well read and knowledgeable and can name everything on the periodic table he has a tough time with the everyday things in life. Like being popular or getting rid of his acne or having sex. Brian is a bit hopeless at times and can even be slightly irritating but he’s the sort of person many of us can relate to. He’s a good guy and you can’t help but root for him until the end!
The 80s nostalgia is wonderful as well. As we all know any film set in 1980s Britain HAS to have a montage of 80s clips (one of which will feature Maggie Thatcher shouting or fainting) but in Starter for Ten it’s the music, the hair and the clothes that are really totally awesome. Anyone who grew up in the 80s will find themselves smiling in recognition pretty much the whole way through.
The cast are all fantastic and apart from the pre-mentioned stars there are also appearances from James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Mark Gatiss and Catherine Tate. If you don’t like James Corden or Catherine Tate (highly possibly) don’t let it put you off – they’re not in it that much.
Starter for 10 is just a nice, wholesome and warming film that also happens to be absolutely hilarious. It has a kind of self-deprecating humour which I always find very funny. I love people taking the piss out of themselves and Brian knows exactly what a prat he can be – with disastrous consequences. It also demonstrates perfectly what many of us go through – broken hearts, angst, falling out with friends, desperately wishing we had better cheek bones (or is that just me?) and of course, always wanting to be just that little bit cooler!
Starter for 10 is a great coming-of-age movie that isn’t ground-breaking by any means but does serve as a platform for some brilliant characters, situations and fantastic 80s nostalgia.
Thanks Emma for such a great choice!