Starter For 10 (2006)
The first film I’ve chosen to review is one that many people have never heard of, Starter For 10. This romantic-comedy Directed by Tom Vaughan, remains relatively unknown despite its stellar cast of current stars such as James McAvoy (X-Men First Class), Rebecca Hall (The Prestige), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League) and Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double). Starter For 10 follows Brian Jackson (McAvoy), a scholarship student at Bristol University in 1985. Brian is extremely intelligent and grew up watching “University Challenge” with his father. During the semester, Brian meets the activist Rebecca Epstein (Hall) and while trying out for Bristol’s “University Challenge” team he succumbs to the charm and beauty of Alice Harbinson (Eve). The three get tangled in a love triangle with severe consequences. To make matters worse, the “University Challenge” captain Patrick Watts (Cumberbatch) who is overly dramatic challenges Brian at every opportunity. Can Brian qualify for the “University Challenge” team? Will he be able to escape the love triangle without harming Alice, Rebecca, or his friends?
Make no mistake about it, this was and is McAvoy’s emergence. Don’t get me wrong, Hall, Eve, and Cooper are extremely effective and are no less than perfect in any of their performances. Benedict Cumberbatch steals every scene he is in and sets the stage for his shot to stardom with this hidden gem. However, McAvoy flexes his acting chops in all forms and executes flawlessly, enough to break your heart with compassion. Without giving too much away, Starter For 10 is essentially the structure all romantic comedies are based upon with a twist that separates it from the pack, that twist being intelligence. The writing is clever and nothing short of spectacular and is what really divides Starter For 10 from the cluttered trash known as the current romantic comedy standard. Starter For 10 invests in each character which ultimately leads to the audience investing in the characters, making the viewing and understanding experience much more rewarding. With the overwhelming romanticism, subtle humour, and the classic, favourable character you consistently root for, Starter For 10 exceeds expectations and fulfills the criteria that makes every good romantic comedy worth watching while adding the intelligence factor that sends it over the top.
Starter For 10: 8 out of 10.
Hopefully later this week I can get my Oscar predictions posted with a separate list with the films and actors I think should have been nominated and won.