Review by Jack Foley
WHEN will filmmakers ever tire of portraying Britain as quaint and steadfastly stiff upper lip in their dealings with hipper, more care-free Americans?
Wild Child is the latest misfire to attempt to appeal to the tweenie market that, somewhat incredibly, stems from the Working Title locker room.
Following her latest precocious stunt in America, pouting princess Poppy (Emma Roberts, of Nancy Drew fame) is sent by her father (Aidan Quinn) to an uptight English boarding school to learn some manners.
En route to doing so, she must confront the school bully, win over some new friends, transform the lacrosse team’s fortunes and seduce the hot kid on the block (played by Stormbreaker‘s Alex Pettyfer), as well as coming to terms with her feelings for her late mother.
Editor-turned-director Nick Moore attempts to give Wild Child extra credibility by dropping in some edgy prank-playing that leans towards a slightly older audience than the recent Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging shenanigans but is consistently defeated by the tired, contrived nature of the set-up.
Roberts, for her part, fails to make Poppy in any way appealing (she’s just another precocious American teen), while the British teenagers are a little too wide-eyed in their appreciation of Poppy’s tactics and conform to obvious British stereotype and cliché.
But then everything about Wild Child is formulaic, whether it’s the inevitability of the feel-good ending (which comes courtesy of a courtroom-style showdown) or the mandatory fashion show montage set to contemporary music.
Indeed, it’s a film so devoid of laughs or charm that not even a cameo from Nick Frost – as a camp hairdresser – can brighten it.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: December 8, 2008