Starter for 10

Critics Consensus

Starter For 10 is a spirited coming-of-age tale that remains charming and witty even as it veers into darker teritory. The unique setting of a quiz show makes the film wittier than your average romantic comedy.



Total Count: 79


Audience Score

User Ratings: 19,501
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Movie Info

A working-class English boy who has been fortunate enough to be accepted into a posh private university struggles to realize his lifelong dream while simultaneously winning the heart of the girl he loves in a romantic, bittersweet comedy directed by Tom Vaughan and starring James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall, and Charles Dance. The time is the mid-'80s, and the University Challenge phenomenon is sweeping through England. Despite his underprivileged background, Essex boy Brian Jackson (McAvoy) knows that he has what it takes to make it to the finals on one of the most popular programs in all of England. Upon being accepted into Bristol, the ambitious young student soon tries out for the school's University Challenge team, and set the gears of his ultimate fantasy into motion. Effectively estranged from his single-parent mother (Catherine Tate) just for being accepted into the school, Brian soon gets set to cross yet another class line when he becomes smitten with his beautiful University Challenge teammate and attempts to woo her into his arms her with his formidable advanced general knowledge skills.


James McAvoy
as Brian Jackson
Alice Eve
as Alice Harbinson
Rebecca Hall
as Rebecca Epstein
Catherine Tate
as Julie Jackson
Mark Gatiss
as Bamber Gascoigne
Charles Dance
as Michael Harbinson
Lindsay Duncan
as Rose Harbinson
Guy Henry
as Dr. Morrison
Elaine Tan
as Lucy Chang
Nicholas Gleaves
as Speaker for Nuclear Disarmament
James Gaddas
as Martin Jackson
Robert Cawsey
as University Challenge Competitor
Rasmus Hardiker
as University Challenge Competitor
Sule Rimi
as Marcus
Ben Willbond
as University Challenge Competitor
Su Elliot
as Cleaning Lady
Joseph Friend
as Young Brian
Joe Van Moyland
as Hippie at the Party
Raj Ghatak
as Nigel De Havilland
Reuben-Henry Biggs
as Anthony Salmon
Tom Allen
as Tristram Neville
Kenneth Hadley
as Television Director
Ian Bonar
as Colin
Bethan Bevan
as Cordelia Sykes
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Critic Reviews for Starter for 10

All Critics (79) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (71) | Rotten (8)

Audience Reviews for Starter for 10

  • Sep 10, 2011
    A young James McAvoy delivers in Starter For 10, a slightly cliched romance-comedy feature.
    Jan Marc M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 06, 2011
    What's not to love about a nebbish, made-under James McAvoy with daddy issues? As with Rachel Weisz, I prefer Rebecca Hall's American accent to her own British.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 13, 2011
    This is the one movie the cliches of a romcom can be completely forgiven as the adaptation of David Nicholls' own novel still imparts its conventional wit and characterization that completely worked out with the script and its genre. It's a bit shy on its dramatic aspect but there's its romantic moments and comic scenes that stood out and that distinguishes itself from other romcom flicks.
    Jakey L Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2011
    Having just seen "Beastly", another teen flick, I can honestly say that it is a putrid, disgusting heap of rancid, vile garbage. I wasn't going to compare it to this movie or anything, I just had to get out some adjectives I missed in my review. But seriously though, this might be that film's polar opposite. Not just because it's under a different subgenre of teen flick and is remotely bearable, but because it's not completely lowering itself to its genre's tropes. Note that I said "not 'completely'". It does step out a bit, but does still fall back into the cliches and when it does, it falls hard, featuring a hot-girl-or-relateable-female-friend storyline, corny score, cheesiness, predictability, familiar character types and crammed-in mainstream music. If that's not bad enough, the film mostly features the cheesy teen soundtrack of the '80s, the last generation of mostly good music. What a waste. The film's own flaws include occasional slowness, narrative underusage and some inconsistant character focus. In spite of this, the film mostly stands above its genre, thanks to its featuring cleverness and more multi-dimensional characters. Its own pros include snappy editing, neat camerawork, a good pace and likeable characters. Also, the film's snappy writing make most of the jokes really hit home. Of course, as effective as it is comedically, it does find itself treading some deeper paths. When the drama rolls in, it really feels serious and compelling. For this, we have to once again thank the fine writing, as well as the decent acting, especially from McAvoy, who really carries the film and shows that even in his earlier comedic work, he had the potential to be the truly competent performer he is now. In conclusion, "Starter for 10" doesn't fall far from its genre's Hallmark tree, but still features snappy writing and a mildly refreshing feel, leaving it to stand out as a moderately offbeat, heartwarming and genuinely entertaining coming-of-age rom-com.
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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