Sixteen year old Poppy Moore (Emma Roberts, Nancy Drew) is a self-obsessed brat, filthy rich and living in LA. After an over the top party goes spectacularly wrong, her father ships her off to an English boarding school to clean up her act. All Poppy wants is to break free and while trying to get expelled the American princess finally meets her match: British girls and teachers that won’t tolerate her spoilt ways.
Poppy finally realises her bad girl behavior will only get her so far, so with the help of her new friends and roommates, she sets in motion the ultimate escape plan. Soon discovering that this could be the reason she wants to stay…
If you don’t know yet who Emma Roberts is, Wild Child will definitely make you sit up and take notice. Known more famously as niece of Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts, she brings an irrepressible energy and zest to this otherwise just amiable teenage comedy.
Indeed, the story of a spoiled American teenage brat Poppy Moore (Emma Roberts) sent to an English boarding school by her father to get her act straightened out is almost predictable to a fault, right down to the lessons about responsibility and the true meaning of friendship. But the one thing it does right is casting Emma Roberts in the lead role.
Like Alicia Silverstone in Clueless or Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday (which is cheekily referenced in the film), Emma Roberts makes the role in Wild Child definitive for herself. To her undeniable credit, she makes the audience feel the same way for her character as the other characters in the movie do so. Starting off as quite the annoying lead, she manages to make Poppy Moore grow ever more likeable so that by the time the movie reaches its obligatory happy ending, you’ll be cheering for her too.
There is also an undeniable chemistry between Emma Roberts and her co-stars that play her posse of friends (Kimberly Nixon, Juno Temple, Sophie Wu and Linzey Cocker). Unlike many similar movies that try to make you believe in the artificiality of the friendships, Wild Child actually manages to make it feel genuine thanks to its inspired cast.
Unfortunately, such talent is let down by the by-the-numbers story by first-time writer Lucy Dahl (daughter of well-known children’s author Roald Dahl). Besides some amusing one-liners, her debut screenwriting attempt is doomed by well-worn clichés- mean girl, pretty boy, romantic triangle and all. Thankfully, director Nick Moore, also making his debut at a feature film, knows how to keep the pace zippy so the movie never outstays its welcome.
Wild Child then feels like a guilty pleasure. You roll your eyes at how formulaic it may all seem but you find yourself enjoying it more than you should. And that’s perhaps the best way to enjoy this surprisingly entertaining tween flick- just go along for the ride.
Making Wild Child: Mainly confirms what you already can guess- that bonding between the cast was as much on screen as it was on the set.
Lacrosse: A quick look at how the mostly un-sporty cast had a crash course in picking up the game for the movie.
Old School Memories: Rather mundane look at the cast members’ own experience at school. Nothing really exciting though
Head Girl Tour: Harriet the head girl of Abbey Mount School in the movie gives you a quick tour of the set.
Ghostville: Not sure why this is even in the DVD. Just a prank that Emma Roberts and Alex Pettyfer played on fellow cast member Juno Temple on the set.
The Dolby 5.1 audio track nicely complements the mostly radio-friendly songs in the movie. Picture looks great and brings out the rich colour palette of the movie neatly.
Review by Gabriel Chong