Her Mother's Death
5 years before the events of Wild Child, Poppy’s mother died in a car accident. Ever since then, Poppy has become a self-centered, cruel, spoiled brat and starts treating everyone coldly — with the exception of her little sister Molly.
Sent To Abbey Mount
On the day her father’s new girlfriend Rosemary was about to move in to their mansion, Poppy and her friends destroy all her things. Poppy then does a dangerous jump off a cliff into the ocean. After she come up from the water, her father arrives and makes her come back up and out of the water. Fed up with her bad behavior, her father decides to send her to a boarding school in England (which he has threatened to do many times before).
Poppy meets the headmistress Mrs. Kingsley (Natasha Richardson), who she initially finds annoying; she also meets head girl Harriet Bentley (Georgia King). Harriet is shown to be a tall, bossy girl who has two “friends” named Jane and Charlotte; however, she is shown to treat Jane and Charlotte as more like slaves instead of friends (as they follow her around, beg for her and agree with whatever she says). Finally, Poppy meets her “big sister” Kate (Kimberley Nixon).
Poppy’s entire suitcase is left out in the rain, which soaks everything. She meets the Matron and orders her to wash, dry and iron all her clothes; this lands her entire dormitory of four other girls with three Sundays’ detention, leaving her with no friends and her dorm mates expressing their hate to her. Because of that, Poppy is miserable in her new life, feeling that she does not fit in as an outsider.
After a small fight with Harriet in gym class, Poppy is called to the Headmistress’ Office, where she is given a punishment that consists of reading a book. Sitting on a bench outside sulking, Harriet spots her and orders her “maid” — an intimidated Year 7 student — to drench Poppy with dirty coffee-filled water that was being used to age Harriet's Keira Knightley costume for the school dance; however, this ultimately results in Poppy and Kate starting to form a friendship.
Revealing that the girls’ mobile phones (which were confiscated earlier on) were always intended to be decoys, Kate lets Poppy use her actual phone to call her friend Ruby (Shelby Young) in the United States. However, Ruby is disgusted at seeing Poppy’s message, and it is revealed that Poppy’s boyfriend Roddy (Johnny Pacar) has been cheating on Poppy with her.
After Poppy reveals the death of her mother, her roommates decide to help her get expelled so that she can return home. Together they carry out several pranks which gradually bring them closer together. When none of their plans work, they decide to seduce the headmistress’s son, Freddie, who is strictly forbidden from fraternizing with any of the girls. She dances with Freddy at the school dance, much to Harriet’s dismay; soon, Poppy trips and hits her head, prompting Freddie to take her outside for air, where he asks her out on a date.
The next day, Poppy discovers her talent for lacrosse and whips the school’s team into shape, getting them into the finals. On the date, Poppy finds herself falling for Freddie. They kiss before returning to school. Entering her room, Poppy finds her roommates reading an email supposedly sent by herself, expressing that she thinks all of her new friends are losers. She then finds that Freddie has been sent a similar email, and is thereafter ignored by all of her friends.
With no one else to turn to, Poppy sneaks down to the cook’s room and calls Ruby; Ruby, however, accidentally reveals how much she dislikes Poppy and the fact that she is now seeing Roddy. Feeling even more alone, Poppy starts playing with her lighter and accidentally sets a curtain on fire; hearing footsteps, she quickly puts out the fire and runs off. A few minutes later, she looks out her window to see a fire and immediately wakes the school.
When they find that Drippy is missing, Poppy runs into the burning school to rescue her; after the fire is put out, Freddie finds her lighter and gives it back to her, refusing to listen to what happened. Just as she realizes that she no longer wants to leave, Poppy goes to the headmistress and confesses. Afterwards, she finds a portrait of her mother in the 1976 Abbey Mount lacrosse team, and begins to cry upon realizing that her mother also attended the school.
While Poppy waits for the Honour Court to decide if she should be expelled, Freddie finds her crying; he becomes convinced that the fire was an accident, and forgives her. During the hearing, Poppy tells her story. Meanwhile, her roommates find out that Poppy did not send the emails; going to the Court and learns how much she loves them after reading Poppy's dairy, they stand up for Poppy, and Harriet accidentally confesses to restarting the fire after Poppy had put it out when she mentions Poppy’s lighter (which wasn’t previously mentioned in the trial).
Poppy is subsequently absolved. Her father comes to the game of the lacrosse finals, and is shocked by Poppy’s dramatic change in appearance and how much she looks like her mother (who had also been captain of the lacrosse team at Abbey Mount). Abbey Mount wins the lacrosse finals, and Harriet is expelled.
Some months later, Poppy and her friends (including Freddie) are shown relaxing in Malibu; Poppy ignores Ruby’s phone calls (now fully aware that Ruby really wasn’t a good friend to her after all). The film ends as they prepare to jump off the very same cliff that helped Poppy towards finding herself and making proper friends.
- In the film Emma Roberts wore a wig for Poppy's blonde hair, and dyed her hair brown.