Thursday, 7 May 2009

No. 120 : Wild Child

We recently had a look at the teen girl coming of age in merrie olde England comedy ‘What a Girl Wants’ and deemed it acceptable. ‘Wild Child’ uses the same formula but to a lesser effect, so much so that it leaves a sour taste rather than some soppy but heart-warming feel goodness, which let’s face it, we’re all after.

The titular child is Poppy played by Emma Roberts whose subsequent credits include canine boarding caper ‘Hotel for Dogs’. She is a spoiled Malibu princess who responds to her Dad’s new girlfriend moving in by giving away all of step mom’s clothes - thought Dad would be quite happy with that! This being the last of several straws he resolves to send her to the boarding school in England, where her late mother went, to straighten her out.

The predictable fish out of water scenario is then played out as she shows up with her sun glasses and fancier mobile phone. The fact that she’s materialistic is laid on with a trowel - remember that later cliché fans - she may have a choice to make! She immediately falls foul of the school bully and of her room mates after she earns them all a detention from Shirley Henderson’s shameful Scottish matron.

Desperate to get home Poppy decides the only way to get out of the school is to be expelled and various mild shenanigans follow. Just as her exploits are having the desired effect she falls for the Head’s sexy son and realises that her room mates are all nice and there is more to life than stuff. Fate takes a hand however when after failing to log out of her e-mail a bad person uses the account to send mischief. Things come to a head when a fire possibly caused by Poppy threatens the school and only her former friends can save her from the inquisition that follows.

In some ways this film is better than ‘What a Girl Wants’ in that the British aren’t made out to be backwards weirdoes and Prince Charles isn’t on hand. What is lacks however is any form of sympathy for the lead, who rather than ‘Wild’ appears to be whiney and annoying. The road to Damascus style conversion is awfully handled with the loaning of a jumper the catalyst for total character rebuilding.

The lead is dreadful and loses any school girl foxiness when she takes out the blonde hair dye and goes mousey brown. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the American character holds all others in awe but it is unusual that the Malibu princess is the best lacrosse player in the country and has the personality to ignite an ‘I’m Spartacus’ style uprising at the student council, which bizarrely has the power to decide fire raising claims.

It’s sad to note that this rubbish was the last film of Natasha Richardson who plays the firm but fair head in a role which has ‘where’s the pay cheque?’ written all over it. Elsewhere you also get a pikey looking Daisy Donovan as a sports teacher and a cringe worthy Nick Frost as a gay hairdresser.

An absolute shocker with nothing to recommend it.

Best Bit : Uh, let’s say the lacrosse final, but even that’s poorly staged and predictable.
‘W’ Rating : 4/23

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