Tom Vaughan's debut film Starter for Ten is earnest and sometimes charming, occasionally funny, but for the most part, unforgivably bland. The film faithfully recreates those uncomfortable moments of the early days at college, as we follow working class boy Brian Jackson (James McAvoy) through his first year at an elite university. That, my friends, is the plot.
Brian's a likable kid, awkward and accident prone, uncomfortable at parties and especially talking to girls. He has goals. For instance, he wants to succeed in a quiz program to make his dead father proud. He also wants a girlfriend. In a painfully cliched love triangle, our bumbling hero is torn between the beautiful blonde (Alice Eve) who obviously will never love him, and the smart but also beautiful brunette (Rebecca Hall) who clearly does.
The film's soundtrack is a veritable best of the Eighties -- The Cure, The Smith, Tears for Fears, Psychedelic Furs --featuring a great song for every big moment. This kind of genre picture was, in fact, a staples of the eighties, when American film director John Hughes ruled supreme with teen hits. Perhaps that is why Starter for Ten seems dated from the get-go.