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Film / Wild Child

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Wild Child is a 2008 American/British/French teen romantic dramedy film starring Emma Roberts, Alex Pettyfer and Natasha Richardson. Roberts plays Poppy Moore, a spoiled California brat who is sent to a boarding school in England as punishment for her bad behavior. Hilarity ensues.

Sadly, most notable as Natasha Richardson's final screen appearance before her untimely passing the following year in a skiing accident.

This film contains examples of:

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Head Girl Harriet is a perfect example of this trope, she rules the school with an iron fist, but uses intellectual prestige and extracurricular overachieving instead of fashion and hotness. Her Beta Bitch posse are deputy Head Girls, and it's clear they have been sucked into being her minions because she's on such a power-trip.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Harriet. Back at her school in California Poppy seems to have been this. After she leaves, Poppy’s close friend Ruby takes over her role as the Queen Bee, though Ruby and Poppy are less obvious.
  • Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch: Harriet's minions decide not to tell her crucial information about how close Poppy is getting to Freddy because she'll shoot the messenger.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Drippy and Kate's attempts at pretending to be old enough to buy alcohol.
  • Big Eater: Drippy regularly sneaks into the school freezer at night for an ice-cream fix, plus she can't resist some cream eggs when the girls are attempting to buy alcohol.
  • Butt-Monkey: Whenever the plot calls for (or even when it doesn't call for) a student of Abbey Mount to make a fool of herself, get hopelessly drunk and pass out in a puddle of vomit, someone other than Poppy to be bullied or even for someone to be in a life-threatening situation, it WILL be Drippy.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Poppy mentions Hogwarts once in the film; Shirley Henderson, who plays Matron, also portrayed Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter film series.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Poppy was warned to log out of the computer when done using it. She forgets after writing an email she never intended to send, allowing Harriet to print out copies of the email and use it to turn her friends against her.
  • Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: Well, it's in a charity shop so not exactly, but the girls do get a clothes montage at one point.
  • Frame-Up: Poppy is framed for burning down the school by Harriet. She caused a fire accidentally but put it out, which then Harriet restarted so she'd think it was caused by her.
  • Freudian Excuse: Poppy, even though her younger sister Molly has experienced the loss of her mother as well and doesn't act like a brat. However, it's possible she was too young to remember the incident. Poppy states she herself was eleven when it happened.
  • I Am Spartacus: When Poppy is standing trial, every single girl in the room (except Harriet) gets up and says they were with her on the night of the fire.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Harriet rants at Poppy for starting the school fire, and mentions Poppy's lighter - unfortunately for Harriet, nobody else knew that a lighter was used to start the fire.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Harriet. At least until she set the school on fire and tried to frame Poppy for it!
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Harriet's treatment of her Year Seven "maid" almost borders on Comedic Sociopathy.
    • Poppy starts the movie this way, by giving away and destroying all the stuff belonging to her dad's girlfriend—though Karma Houdini greatly averted when Poppy's dad punishes her by sending her to Abbey Mount.
  • Make Way for the Princess: Averted; Poppy seems to expect this at first, only for Harriet to coldly inform her that Americans rank somewhere below vermin in the school's pecking order.
  • Morality Pet: Molly seems to be this to Poppy, as up until she was sent to Abbey Mount the only time she was nice, kind, and sweet was towards Molly.
  • National Stereotypes: The girls assume Poppy is sexually experienced because she is from California. Turns out she's a virgin.
  • Off to Boarding School: After Poppy plays a very mean-spirited prank on her dad's girlfriend, Mr. Moore punishes her by having her sent to Abbey Mount in England.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Drippy is actually her nickname, except when Mrs. Kingsley calls her name on the school register. Her real name is Jennifer.
  • Oop North: Several of the girls have Northern accents, particularly Josie, while Kiki's accent is distinctly Scottish (Glaswegian, to be precise). Drippy, Kate and Harriet all have more Southern accents, though. The setting is in the North, however.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite Poppy's mean attitude towards everyone, she remains kind to younger sister, Molly, acting the surrogate mother figure to her and cutting the crust off her peanut-butter and jelly sandwich for her sister.
  • Promotion to Parent: Implied in the beginning that Poppy is this to her little sister.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mrs. Kingsley.
  • Rich Bitch: Poppy is this for most of the film, until she softens up. Harriet is also one, contrasting Poppy's spoiled Malibu princess qualities with her chilly upper class toffness.
  • Rule of Symbolism: After Poppy changes her hairstyle to something more "natural", her Character Development quickly begins, such as begins acting nicer and more like a proper young lady, acts less spoiled, and becomes true friends her roommates, showing that from this point she is starting to accept her mother's death and being a student at Abbeymount, especially when she discovers her mother was student there.
  • Running Gag: Poppy constantly using hand-sanitiser on everything. She stops once she goes through her Character Development.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Somewhat of an aversion; Poppy's initially only after Freddy because of the fact that he's son of her school's headmistress, but she eventually comes to genuinely like him and the two ultimately become an Official Couple.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Poppy remarks she looks like her mother after she gets her hair dyed brunette. A photo of her mom from her youth confirms this (it's the same actress in the image), with her dad also later being astonished, saying they look just alike.
  • Teacher's Pet: Harriet tries to be this to Mrs. Kingsley, but her attempts are fairly transparent.
  • Vanity is Feminine: Poppy is vain and spoiled and she is also dresses very traditionally feminine.
    • Harriet is shallow, snobby and has very traditional views.
    • Ruby is shown to be vain and unconventionally feminine.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Harriet, after the above mentioned I Am Spartacus moment and her slip up about Poppy’s lighter, which helps Poppy piece together what really must've happened the night of the fire. This sends Harriet into a fury, ranting and cussing out Poppy and accidentally revealing in front of everyone that she restarted the fire.
    Poppy: Freddie found the lighter before anyone saw it. How could you possibly know unless... unless you were there?
    Harriet: …Well, this is absurd. I refuse to sit here and listen to these wild—
    Poppy: I had put it out. And I heard footsteps, it must’ve been you! Oh my God, you restarted the fire, didn’t you?
    Mrs. Kingsley: Harriet, is this true?
    Harriet: Of course not!
    Poppy: It all makes sense now, I knew it! I... think I’m innocent.
    Jane and Charlotte: We think so too!
    Harriet: YOU’RE NOT! You awful bitch! You’ve turned this school upside down! You’ve ruined everything! You started it! I ONLY FINISHED WHAT YOU STARTED!
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Drippy is sick on the grass right by Poppy's feet after the school dance, but you only hear it.
  • Wake Up Make Up: At the beginning of the movie, Poppy has suspiciously perfect makeup for somebody who is supposed to be just waking up.
  • Wham Line: "How do you know that, Harriet? No one’s mentioned a lighter before."
  • With Friends Like These...: Ruby, Poppy's BFF from before she got sent to Abbey Mount, hooks up with Poppy's boyfriend while she's in England—eventually, Ruby (accidentally) reveals how much she dislikes Poppy and how Roddy's been cheating on Poppy with her.