Genre Grandeur – Starter for 10 (2006) – EmmaKWall

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

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 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.


Highly recommend!



Thanks Emma for such a great choice!



21 thoughts on “Genre Grandeur – Starter for 10 (2006) – EmmaKWall

  1. Great review, Emma! I’ve been curious about this one – now you’ve really made me want to see it as I didn’t know it was set in the 80s!!! 🙂 Hey… I read (and actually liked) One Day! 😉 Movie wasn’t wonderful but Jim Sturgess is such a cutie. Do you read Nick Hornby? Seems your type of thing…


    • Thanks so much!!! 🙂 I do think the book is a lot better though – I would probably recommend that before the movie. And honestly not in that pretentious “oh you have to read the literature first man!” it’s just genuinely a delightful, hilarious read. I read One Day as well, it was okay. I didn’t like the sad ending though and it wasn’t funny at all like Starter for Ten. So maybe the problem is more with me, I was expecting another hilarious book but it was more serious.

      Yes Nick Hornby! I think the only book I’ve read is A Long Way Down, but I have seen About A Boy and High Fidelity 🙂 have you read any others? Tony Parsons is another similar author I quite like too!

      Thanks for your comment, sorry I took aaaaaaages to reply, I only just saw it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emma! Lol – that’s okay. I’ve actually just reviewed this one today. I didn’t love it. 😦 Yes, I’m sure the book is MUCH better. Usually the case. 🙂 It’s not put me off checking out other stuff from Nicholls. I’d very much recommend reading more Hornby! High Fidelity was my favorite. I think you’d like it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Excellent! I’ll check out your review 🙂

          It doesn’t surprise me, it’s not a head turning movie really. In fact I’ve only seen it once or twice myself. It’s a twee little film, but nothing special.

          I think part of the problem is in the book, for me anyway, the biggest laughs came from Brian’s internal monologue. It couldn’t translate to film, no matter best intentions and efforts. I don’t usually rave so intently about “book over film” but I love the book so, so, so much 🙂

          Thanks very much for the High Fidelity recommendation, I think I would really enjoy it!!!!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Genre Grandeur February Finale- The Perks of A Wallflower (2012) – Justine’s Movie Blog |

  3. Pingback: Starter For 10 (2006) Review | Cinema Parrot Disco

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