Starter for 10
Time Out says
You may love the ’80s, but trust us: You probably don’t love that plastic decade as much as director Tom Vaughan. His dramedy about a college student (McAvoy) is filtered through fond memories of shoulder pads and synth-pop; judging from the omnipresent soundtrack, which resembles a mix-tape put together by Molly Ringwald, the producers scored a bulk discount on modern-rock tunes.
The film’s root-for-the-underdog narrative, however, dates back to the Jurassic era, when stories about underappreciated brainiacs hoping to wow their peers on a TV game show (University Challenge, a popular U.K. program akin to college Jeopardy!) would have seemed fresh. Here’s a pop quiz: For 50 points, will our hero go for the gorgeous, superficial blond (Eve) or the politically conscious brunet (Hall) who honestly likes him? And for the win, will he learn that friends, not phonies, are the ones who really matter?
There’s nothing here we haven’t seen done better before; even when Starter for 10 throws out an unexpected curveball, it just prompts a new round of clichs and cloying nostalgia. No one doubts that higher education 20 years ago was a blast. That shouldn’t mean, however, that we have to endure someone’s else’s glory days just for old time’s sake. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — David Fear