What happens when the ego of a stuck-up little princess from Malibu gets a little too big for her Dolce & Gabbana tote? Why, her daddy sends her clear across the world to a British boarding school, of course! And that’s exactly what does happen to poor old Poppy when she finally pushes her dear old dad too far in the new tween film Wild Child.
What occurs to her while she is there is quite predictable and at times nearly unbearable to watch. First, Poppy (Emma Roberts) must learn to conform to the strict rules of the all girl school. Dress code. No cell phones. Lights out at 9:00 PM (or some other ungodly early hour). Absolutely no boys. Naturally, the American girl breaks every rule known and not yet conceived by Abbey Mount School for Girls, further complicating U.S. – European relations. She especially raises the ire of head girl and resident bully, Harriet (Georgia King), who sees Poppy as a threat to her power. Even her four roommates — Drippy (Juno Temple), Kate (Kimberley Nixon), Josie (Linzey Cocker) and Camilla (Sophie Wu) can’t stand her, that is until they realize to be rid of her all they have to do is help her get expelled.
Yet the more Poppy tries to get out by doing the most inane capers possible (apparently putting a death metal cassette in a girl’s stereo is the epitome of badass), the more she realizes her new stiff-lipped, stodgy girlfriends aren’t just a means to an end but actual people she can and wants to relate with. And what do you know, when all is said and done she becomes the darling of the academy — wow, I know I didn’t see that change coming about . . .
For the most part, the girls in Wild Child are as interchangeable and nondescript as LEGO building blocks. Emma Roberts comes across well on the screen (and looks so much better as a brunette), but she could have been much more had there been some meat to her role. Aside from knowing Poppy’s mother died, there isn’t anything else linking us to her. Same goes for all the other girls — I figure it was a gift that the writers gave the girls names at all. They are all little more than one-dimensional playthings for Poppy to bounce antics off of and act silly with, which led to a few moments that were best left on the cutting room floor. One involved the absolute worst attempt at sexy dancing I’ve ever seen in my entire life — I felt sorry for the girls after being subjected to it. Another was a weak girly dress-up scene at a second hand store — do all teen flicks involving girls have to have these? Yet another was watching the girls play field hockey — the writers should have picked a sport where it wasn’t so obvious the actors had no idea what they were doing.
It’s always good to see a movie that has some redeeming quality that a young person can take home with them. Wild Child, in a typical, unimpressive manner tries to teach the lessons that no girl is an island, you can find the good in everyone if you just look past the obvious and if you try hard enough you can make a change for the better in yourself and others. I doubt the girls that would want to see this will or care to get the message, but nonetheless it is there. That’s got to be worth something — how much, I have no idea.