Australian Council on Children and the Media

Wild Child

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Not recommended under 10, PG to 13 (Sexual References and Coarse language).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Wild Child
  • a review of Wild Child completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 September 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to sexual references and coarse language
Children aged 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to sexual references and coarse language
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Wild Child
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild sexual references and coarse language
Length 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This film depicts the experiences of Poppy Moore (Emma Roberts), a wilful, almost out-of-control, Malibu teenager.  After one particularly wild party, her father (Aidan Quin) seeks to reform Poppy by sending her to Abbey Mount, a highly conservative girls’ boarding school in England.  Extremely unhappy with her new surroundings and the strict rules of this institution, Poppy rebels through continuously obnoxious and disrespectful behaviour. 
After weeks of such arrogant selfishness, Poppy begins to feels isolated and eventually drops her guard enough to become friends with the other girls in her room.   Nevertheless, Poppy still embarks on an all-out quest to be expelled so that she may return home.  Part of this plot involves the plan to get caught ‘snogging’ Freddie, the headmistress’s son (Alex Pettyfer).  Her campaign of bad behaviour also earns her the wrath of Hillary, the head prefect (Georgia King), who has never liked Poppy and who proves to be a dangerous enemy.
At first, the headmistress, Mrs. Kingsley (Natasha Richardson) seeks to overlook Poppy’s wild behaviours in the hopes that she might be turned around.  Ultimately, however, it seems that Poppy has gone too far and must face the consequences of her actions.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Teenage rebellion

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Hillary slaps Poppy with two dead pheasants
  • Hillary and Poppy swing at each other with lacrosse sticks
  • several arguments involving shouting

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • Poppy is sent away to an English boarding school against her will
  • Drippy is trapped in the freezer when the school kitchen is engulfed in flames and everyone fears for her life
  • Poppy jumps off a high cliff into the ocean and her friends fear she has drowned.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Poppy is asked by fellow students, “How many boys have you shagged?” She responds to this by reeling off a long list of boys’ names
  • Later, Poppy admits she has never ‘done it’

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Poppy and Freddy engage in some long kissing scenes.
  • There is one very brief scene showing the French teacher hop quickly out of the P.E. teacher’s bed.  Although they are both clothed, the implication is that they have a sexual relationship

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is an abundance of mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • shit, shit-brain
  • suck
  • snog
  • slutty and available
  • bitch
  • friggin’
  • shut up
  • moron
  • Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, God
  • screw you
  • shagged
  • asshole

In a nutshell

Wild Child is an English comedy for teens featuring some good young performers.  While the behaviours and language depicted within the first part of the film may be concerning for some parents, the moral of the story could provide a valuable springboard for family discussions. 

The main message from this movie is that no one should give up on themselves or others.  Even the most obnoxious person can change.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • honesty
  • loyalty
  • courage

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss the hurtful effect that self-centredness can have on other people.  Poppy found herself increasingly isolated as a result of her disrespectful and thoughtless behaviour.  However, when she began thinking about the hurt she had caused others and tried to change her life, she found that people began respecting her and she was able to make some genuine friends.

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