British boarding schools for girls are going though something of a cinematic boon. Following hot on the heels of the Rupert Everett-inspired St. Trinian's reprisal comes this fish-out-of-the-water tale. The sassy tearaway teen hipster, Poppy (Emma Roberts, the spitting image of her Pretty Woman aunt, Julia) is sent across the pond by her single-parent dad (Aidan Quinn) for some traditional schooling. There, Poppy soon discovers that her Malibu princess sense of style and attitude won't wash with the more reserved Brit chicks, especially the head girl, Harriet (Georgia King). Throw in a strapping lad (Alex Pettyfer) as their favourite subject and the battle lines are drawn for a teenage girl culture-clash comedy. Yet, this Working Title production receives poor marks mainly because Poppy is not so much a wild child as a lost puppy - a personality trait that will please parents desperately trying to keep their daughters in check, but no one else. She's a dweeb when she should rock. As for the teachers, they're just a tired bunch of stereotypes: the strict disciplinarian headmistress (Natasha Richardson); the mad sport teacher (Daisy Donovan); the eerie matron (Shirley Henderson) and a bumbling French professor (Nick Frost). Surely school should be more fun than this.
Published: August 28, 2008 04:00 AM