Review in a Hurry: If a UK social-realist filmmaker like, say, Mike Leigh had tried to make a John Hughes-style comedy back in the '80s, it might have come out roughly like this.

The Bigger Picture: Former Narnia faun James McAvoy plays Brian, a working-class British youth who heads off to college in 1985, where he pursues a gorgeous and rich blonde (Alice Eve) while failing to notice that his best brunette friend Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) is equally attractive, and much nicer. What ever will he do? Okay, that much is pretty obvious. And we should note that the token nerdy Asian girl (Elaine Tan) is actually the hottest of all, but gets completely ignored.

But the formula here isn't really the point, especially for U.S. viewers:

It's the atmosphere that director Tom Vaughan creates and how noticeably different and grittier it is from any similar Hollywood movie set in (or made in) the '80s. College apartments are realistically small and dirty; the parties are disappointingly lame; and class snobbery plays a huge factor in everyday interactions.

And rather than some big football game, the prize at stake here is winning University Challenge, a strenuous academic TV quiz show with questions most of you probably couldn't have answered even in college. If you grew up in the British Isles at that time, you'll totally get it. But even if you didn't, it'll probably ring truer than the comic college hijinks you're used to seeing on the screen.

The soundtrack is a little heavy on the Cure, but the inclusion of Black's "It's a Wonderful Life" at the perfect moment is enough to warm the heart of anyone who actually remembers Black.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Well, the biggest problem one can pick on is that only real nudity this college comedy/romance offers is from middle-aged Charles Dance. And if the movie were truly going for realism, there's no way Brian would have two great girls interested in him. When it comes down to it, he's kind of a loser.

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