‘What is this, Hogwarts?’ exclaims bratty Californian kid Poppy (Emma Roberts, niece of Julia) on her arrival at a genteel girls boarding school in England, ruled over by tough-but-fair headmistress (Natasha Richardson). With her mother long dead, Poppy’s concerned father (Aidan Quinn) sends the foul-mouthed, obnoxious Malibu-mite to the posh school her late mother flourished at, in the hope that she learn that values and price-tags are not the same thing.
Much like last year’s Nancy Drew, Wild Child is another failed vehicle for Roberts, an illuminating presence who deserves better than this. Despite coming from the pen of Lucy Dahl, daughter of Roald, first time director Nick Moore’s unsteady hand ensures Wild Child plays as a vacuous rehash of teen movie clichés. Despite the title, Poppy does not smoke, drink or take drugs, and yet Dahl’s script maintains a constant emphasis on teenage sexuality that’s likely to put off family audiences. At the same time, the goody-goody nature of Poppy’s progress as she wins friends in her dorm, influences the school’s imbecile staff and leads the lacrosse team to triumph is likely to put off the Bratz/St Trinian’s crowd. Complete with a finale ripped from Dead Poets Society and a soundtrack that includes such hip songs as, erm, Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’, Wild Child is yet another dog-eared slice of Working Title crapola aimed squarely at the dumbest of US teens. Seekers of teenage enlightenment should re-watch Mean Girls or Superbad and mind the enormous gap.
General release from Fri 15 Aug.