Problem Child 2 Preview

“That’s a wrap,” Patrick calls in exasperation. Another day, another unscripted fist fight between Chris Klein and Angel. With CK now playing both Rich and Poe in this entry of the film, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of who is even fighting Angel and whether they are dealing with a love triangle or love square. It all won’t matter anyway if this continues as CK is getting perilously close to leaving the film and their production deal was predicated on their star’s return to the series. “Dastardly cyborgs,” Jamie says, pounding the desk in their trailer. They’ve tried every which way to get rid of Angel, but his contract is iron clad. Besides, despite not being able to act a lick his test audience scores are through the roof. “So Angel has to appear in at least 90% of the film, right?” Jamie nods along as Patrick thumbs through Angel’s contract trying to find a loophole in the wording, “and we’re not allowed to recast,” Jamie nods again, wincing at their predicament, “but they don’t say anything about additional casting, right?” Jamie looks confused, but there is a twinkle in Patrick’s eye. The next day a chorus of boos rain down on Angel as he makes out with Leighton Vanderschmidt. He looks uncomfortable as he eyes the latest addition to the cast, Rich and Poe Jrs., the previously undisclosed twin children of Rich and Leighton Vanderschmidt’s character. Soon Angel has agreed to rewrite his part and remove the love triangle. CK is satisfied and so are Jamie and Patrick, but Adam Banks looks wary on his latest visit to set. A fart-gag laden scene is being shot and the production has taken on a distinct PG-rated vibe “Aren’t these children going to be a bit of a… problem?” That’s right, we’re taking on a couple of problem children in Problem Child 1 + 2. The first film was a staple and is probably one of the most quoted films of our childhood. The second film… was not. Let’s see if either of them hold up in any capacity. Let’s go!

Problem Child 2 (1991) – BMeTric: 60.5; Notability: 26

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 0.8%; Notability: top 54.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 1.4% Higher BMeT: Cool as Ice, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare; Higher Notability: Hook, Hudson Hawk, Mobsters, Switch, Flight of the Intruder, Rock-A-Doodle, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Life Stinks, Out for Justice, Necessary Roughness, The Marrying Man, The Five Heartbeats, Billy Bathgate, Driving Me Crazy, He Said, She Said, Oscar, Teen Agent, King Ralph, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Married to It, and 33 more; Lower RT: Cool as Ice, Mobsters; Notes: There we go, sub-5.0 is much more what I expected for these films. The 60+ BMeTric is beautiful, but somehow it got better critical reviews than the first film … who knows. Mobsters is an interesting film I don’t recall ever hearing about but it seems like we should watch.

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  The sequel no one asked for has Ritter adopting a second demon-child, ths one female and hell-bent on giving her stepbrother a run for his money. Any parent who lets and impressionable child watch this stuff ought to have his or her head examined! Followed by a 1995 TVM sequel.

(Uh … that isn’t the plot of the film? Trixie is the daughter of Ritter’s love interest and Junior and her have a prank war for completely unrelated reasons. Is this a true blue instance of Maltin not watching the film? Or maybe he just wrote it long after. It feels like something you’d gleen from only watching the trailer or something.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmvf4Jr0AEg/

(Nope, the trailer seems fairly clear that Trixie is probably just Junior’s rival, not his step-sister (yet). How in the world did Maltin get it so wrong I wonder? Anyways, this trailer is terrible and I’m so very excited to watch this film again.)

Directors – Brian Levant – (Known For: Max 2: White House Hero; Future BMT: The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas; The Flintstones; Snow Dogs; The Spy Next Door; Beethoven; BMT: Are We There Yet?; Problem Child 2; Jingle All The Way; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for The Flintstones in 1995; and Nominee for Worst Director for Jingle All the Way in 1997; Notes: He is writing and directing and producing the new Police Academy film apparently. Directed a bunch of The New Leave it to Beaver series in the 80s.)

Writers – Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (characters & written by) – (Known For: Man on the Moon; 1408; Ed Wood; Big Eyes; Goosebumps; Dolemite Is My Name; The People vs. Larry Flynt; Future BMT: Agent Cody Banks; Problem Child; That Darn Cat; Screwed; BMT: Problem Child 2; Notes: Apparently they didn’t want to write the film, but were offered a ton of money to do it because the studio wanted a sequel completed a year after the release of the first film.)

Actors – John Ritter – (Known For: Sling Blade; Bride of Chucky; Bad Santa; Nowhere; Real Men; Stay Tuned; Noises Off…; They All Laughed; The Other; Tadpole; Nickelodeon; Hero at Large; Panic; Clifford’s Really Big Movie; Americathon; Montana; I Woke Up Early the Day I Died; The Prisoner of Second Avenue; Hacks; Shadow of Doubt; Future BMT: Problem Child; Wholly Moses!; Skin Deep; BMT: North; Problem Child 2; Notes: Ended up married Amy Yasbeck who played his character’s love interest in both films (as two different characters).)

Michael Oliver – (Future BMT: Problem Child; BMT: Problem Child 2; Notes: Seems to work in music now. This is likely due to his half-siblings or maybe his step-father who seem to be involved in music.)

Jack Warden – (Known For: 12 Angry Men; Heaven Can Wait; The Great Muppet Caper; Sunset Blvd.; All the President’s Men; Shampoo; While You Were Sleeping; The Replacements; Death on the Nile; From Here to Eternity; Being There; The Champ; The Bachelor Party; The Verdict; Donovan’s Reef; Mighty Aphrodite; …and justice for all.; Used Cars; Beyond the Poseidon Adventure; Bulworth; Future BMT: Problem Child; Guilty as Sin; Dirty Work; A Dog of Flanders; BMT: Ed; Problem Child 2; Chairman of the Board; Toys; Notes: Was married to Wanda Ottoni although they apparently separated in the 70s but never got divorced, and thus were legally married for nearly 50 years at the time of his death.)

Budget/Gross – $11–15 million / Domestic: $25,104,700 (Worldwide: $32,704,700)

(Not bad, but obviously once you cut your box office in half you probably aren’t completing the trilogy (in theaters at least).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 8% (2/26): Crude, rude, puerile, and pointless, Problem Child 2 represents a cynical nadir in family-marketed entertainment.

(It couldn’t possibly be a nadir since the previous film somehow got worse reviews. I’ve seen both of these films a ton in my life, and the second is loads worse so that is insane. Reviewer Highlight: I’m probably getting awfully moralistic, but couldn’t the geniuses who devise entertainment for tots have come up with something a bit more, uh, responsible? – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)

Poster – Sklogin’ Children Too: Mo’ Problemo

(Retread of the first one with Ben in the washer instead of the cat. I thought it was pretty good for the first one, but gotta do something different to keep the score up. C+.)

Tagline(s) – This summer, Junior has a brand new friend. (D)

He’s bad. She’s worse. (B-)

(The first one doesn’t really work without the poster and the second tagline beyond already being too long. So that’s off the table. The second is better. Short and knowing what the first movie is about you get the idea. Not terribly clever though.)

Keyword – slapstick comedy

Top 10: Thor: Ragnarok (2017), The Goonies (1985), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Tom & Jerry: The Movie (2021), Iron Man (2008), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

Future BMT: 92.7 Date Movie (2006), 92.3 Son of the Mask (2005), 89.4 Vampires Suck (2010), 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 87.3 Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003), 83.1 Inspector Gadget (1999), 82.9 Home Alone 3 (1997), 79.3 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), 78.8 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), 78.6 Superhero Movie (2008);

BMT: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), Movie 43 (2013), Super Mario Bros. (1993), The Lone Ranger (2013), The Cannonball Run (1981), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Superman III (1983), Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005), The Cat in the Hat (2003), Fifty Shades of Black (2016), Epic Movie (2007), Wild Hogs (2007), Meet the Spartans (2008), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), Hudson Hawk (1991), Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), Made of Honour (2008), Mortdecai (2015), Out Cold (2001), The Love Guru (2008), Old Dogs (2009), Jingle All The Way (1996), Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005), The Master of Disguise (2002), Harlem Nights (1989), Big Momma’s House 2 (2006), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), The Medallion (2003), Caddyshack II (1988), Problem Child 2 (1991), Miss March (2009), Furry Vengeance (2010), Are We Done Yet? (2007), Christmas with the Kranks (2004), Dudley Do-Right (1999), The Marrying Man (1991), Unaccompanied Minors (2006)

(It would peak around ‘97 and it has been a bit downhill since the mid 00s. Makes sense in a way, although who knows how scientific these numbers really are. Son of Mask is a huge one we’ve been semi-consciously avoiding.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Laraine Newman is No. 4 billed in Problem Child 2 and No. 4 billed in Perfect, which also stars John Travolta (No. 1 billed) who is in Wild Hogs (No. 2 billed), which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 4 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 20. If we were to watch Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – During a 2014 interview on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski revealed that the studio was reluctant to rehire them, only doing so because they wanted to shoot a sequel before Michael Oliver could noticeably grow and, as the writers of the first film, could produce a script quicker than writers new to the story and characters of the franchise. Frustrated with the criticisms of Problem Child (1990), they deliberately increased the poor taste in the sequel, intending to make a Pasolini or John Waters film for children, and went so far overboard that the first cut received an R rating from the MPAA, a secret kept until their 2014 appearance on the podcast. Dubbing over Junior’s use of the term “pussy whipped” got the film a PG-13 rating on appeal but the studio was still so nervous that, at the last minute, they added the Woody Woodpecker cartoon Smoked Hams (1947) to the film’s theatrical release to reassure parents that the film was suitable for children.

In 1999, John Ritter married Amy Yasbeck in real life.

When Mrs. Dumore sees Ben in the bank, she says she plans to make him “Hubbie #7” and a bunch of pictures are shown of her previous husbands. Her other husbands are John Ritter in several costumes. (ha!)

Ben is still driving the Jeep he “borrows” from Roy in the first film when he goes to rescue Junior from the Bow Tie Killer.

Based on the landmarks the Healys pass on their road trip, it can be assumed that they’re moving from California (the first landmark is the Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, CA) to Florida (the final landmark they pass is the Booby Trap club in Orlando, FL). (I’m not sure this is true, elsewhere it indicated they were in Illinois in the first film and Oregon in the second. But we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled).

The only actor to appear in all three films and the short-lived cartoon series was Gilbert Gottfried. Jack Warden appeared in all three films, but not the cartoon.

In the original movie, while Junior is watching news clips of the Bow Tie Killer on TV, he goes into a toy box and retrieves a bowtie to wear so he can emulate his hero. The bowtie is being worn on a My Buddy doll. This is referenced in the sequel during the carnival scene, when Ben wins a My Buddy doll and gives it to Junior.

Mortville, the town that Ben and Junior move to, is a reference to a town with the same name in which the John Waters film Desperate Living is set. (Absolutely incredible ref, WTF this is a kids film?)

June Foray, who voiced the puppets in the puppet show before Trixie (Ivyann Schwan) took it over, did various cartoon voices for 60 years; in particular many Warner Brothers cartoons. She passed away in 2017 just shy of her 100th birthday.

The license plate on Ben’s car reads “JRS DAD”.

When LaWanda is reading various newspaper headlines that detail Junior’s actions in the first film, one of the headlines reads, “Union Carbide Plant Explodes.” This was not Junior’s fault, this is referencing the incident known as “The Bhopal Disaster” that occurred on December 2, 1984 at the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, where methyl isocyanate gas leaked, exposing 500,000 people. It is estimated that 16,000 died from pesticide exposure.

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