Better Than Butters

Juno Temple as ‘Drippy’ (aka ‘Jennifer Logan’) in “Wild Child”[Contains horrideous SPOILERS!!!]

Weirdly, the only “special feature” on the UK DVD release of The Other Boleyn Girl was a trailer for Wild Child (2008). I’m not sure how much overlap there is between the target markets for those two films, but there is one pretty obvious connection… a plucky young actress by the name of Juno Temple!

For those who don’t know, Wild Child is a teen rom-com starring Emma Roberts as ‘Poppy Moore’, a spoiled, self-absorbed Californian brat, who “acts out” against her father’s new girlfriend by trashing the unseen woman’s clothes and possessions on the day she’s due to move into their family home. Pushed to the end of his tether, her frustrated father makes good on his oft-repeated threat to send Poppy to a strict boarding school in England, hoping it will straighten her out. Inevitable clashes with the school’s snotty head girl (Georgia King) ensue, as Poppy pursues the headmistress’s dishy teenage son, and bonds with her dorm-mates over obscure choccy bickies. Hurrah! I thought most of the jokes in this film were actually pretty funny, but I wasn’t quite so impressed by the more melodramatic elements of the story. Anyone who’d seen the trailer would already know that Poppy’s late mother attended the same school back in her day, but Poppy doesn’t discover this significant fact until about ten minutes from the end of the film… by which time she’s already well on her way to redemption, so it just seems like superfluous schmaltz. Personally, I would have dropped the romance angle altogether, and brought the revelation of this maternal legacy in a lot sooner… so we could focus on the story of a trouble-making tearaway who learns the value of self-discipline and team spirit through Sport, as she strives to honour her mother’s legacy as captain of the school’s lacrosse team. But no one asked me. I just felt that the “honour court” scene was a bit flimsy, with the villain inadvertently revealing her own guilt, for no good reason. I know from watching too much Judge Judy that slips like that can occur in real life when people are too angry to think properly, but I believe it would have been better to embarass her on the field of (faux) combat.

Shirley Henderson as ‘Matron’ in “Wild Child”There’s some speculation on the film’s Wikipedia page that significant edits were made rather late in the production process, to bring the rating down from a “15” to a “12”. This is most obvious in the sequence where Poppy’s new posse try and fail to purchase alcohol from a nearby off-licence, exiting the shop with bitter recriminations… but then they’re joined by a smug-looking Poppy, there’s a harsh jump-cut, and they all stride off merrily, as if they had achieved their goal. When we see them later at the school dance, they’re all quite giggly and wobbly on their feet, and the next morning they’re clearly hungover… but at no point do we ever see them buying or drinking any booze! It’s ridiculous really.

Anyhoo, Temple plays a chocoholic named ‘Drippy’, who befriends Poppy and steals all of their scenes together by virtue of the fact she has the best jokes. I particularly enjoyed the off-licence scene, where she attempts to feign maturity by adopting a nasal voice and chatting about her business woes, only to be thwarted by the irresistible urge to buy Cream Eggs. Pesky! The role was probably written with someone a little ditsier in mind, but I love how Temple plays it so straight, and never tries to go too broad. Obviously I haven’t managed to work my way through her entire oeuvre as yet, but I would say that Drippy is probably her most likable character to date… downright adorable, in fact… and she certainly has the best hairdos! Apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention to her eyebrows though, because the whole subplot about her tinting them went straight over my head. Is that a thing that people actually do? Then again, I prefer (and covet) darker eyebrows myself, so maybe I wasn’t the best audience for that gag? Fun fact: In one of the accompanying featurettes, Temple reveals that she attended a rather unorthodox school where all of the kids wore casual clothes, and called the teachers by their first names… so she’s probably spent more time in uniform since she left school, than she ever did when she was a pupil!

Meanwhile, I have to give snaps to Shirley Henderson, who plays the school’s stern Scottish ‘Matron’… it’s not a very big part, but every twitch and glower had me chuckling away! That woman’s a genius when it comes to physical comedy. This film also features the final on-screen performance by Natasha Richardson, as the school’s headmistress… who has such a warm and reassuring presence, she would have played a much more prominent role in my hypothetical redraft.

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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3 Responses to Better Than Butters

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  3. I never figured out those cutted scenes. It is so obvious, that they were drinking, so I didn’t felt it necessary to see that. Juno was very good in this, I watched the movie second time just to see her again with that hair:D
    I say, watch Dirty Girl, she’s very good in that one too, and there she is the main female character!

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