You don’t need to remember The Buzzcocks, Kate Bush or Bamber Gascoigne to be charmed by this laugher set in the mid-’80s. That’s because Tom Vaughan’s film trades less on Thatcher-years nostalgia (despite the Cure-heavy soundtrack) than it does on its well-worn – but cosy – coming-of-age formula. Still, Vaughan (adapting from David Nicholls’ novel) does throw a couple of modest curveballs. No gongs for guessing who Bristol-Uni fresher James McAvoy will end up with – right-on Rebecca Hall or über-bombshell Alice Eve? – but there’s no good girl/bad girl crassness.
Expectations are similarly bilked in the first round of the University Challenge showdown that McAvoy’s Brian has been dreaming of since childhood. Just enough quirk to earn positive comparisons with vintage Bill Forsyth (Gregory’s Girl), plus another top turn from McAvoy, injecting easy likeability into a guy who spends the plot blundering from one stupid/naïve/ insensitive gaffe to the next.