Junior is back, Jack! And boy is he still a problem. After moving with his dad, Ben, to the divorce capital of the world, Junior is distressed to find his daddio is the object of affection for the villainess Lawanda. Teaming up with frenemy (and fellow problem child) Trixie, can Junior stop the potential wedding between Ben and Lawanda before it’s too late? Find out in… Problem Child 2.
How?! Junior and his dad, Ben, just need a change of scenery. Enter the Divorcee Capital of the US (Orlando?) where Ben is not just in demand, but literally an indescribable hunk. To make matters worse his grandpa shows up having lost everything in a bum business deal and is super lame. Junior is not happy about this unlikely turn of events and begins to act out again. He ruins a lemonade stand, he blows up a barbeque, and hypnotizes Grandpa’s dog, etc. etc. etc. As each of his dad’s hot dates show up, Junior finds creative, and often dangerous, ways to get them out of the picture. Little does he know that a storm is a-brewin’ in the form of the local bank owner. Oft-married (and oft-divorced) Lawanda has her eyes on the prize that is Ben Healy and will destroy all in her path to get him. Turns out Ben likes being waited on hand and foot by a rich, beautiful lady, and they get engaged. Even Grandpa is thrilled with the potential financial windfall that is heading the family’s way. Despondent, Junior finds a kindred spirit in another problem child, Trixie, and is excited to find that her mom is pretty dope and should probably be with his dad instead. They team up to ruin the wedding in a variety of ways. When this doesn’t work they instead just roll a giant boulder down the aisle and squash Lawanda, but not before she reveals her true colors to Ben. Ben is like “phew, thank god I didn’t marry that lady before a boulder squashed her,” and instead smooches Trixie’s mom. Then, realizing an opening when he sees one, Grandpa swoops in and starts smooching Lawanda. Finally (and this is real, so prepare yourselves), Trixie and Junior light a firecracker, shoot it into the wedding cake, it proceeds to fly up into the air and land on Grandpa and Lawanda, who then are shocked to find that Grandpa’s dog has made a giant poop. THE END.
Why?! That sweet cash, baaabbbbbyyyy. This sequel has no purpose other than to make money for everyone involved with no regard for human life or decency. I guess Ben Healy wants to get married again so that Junior has a mom, but Junior just wants fun dad time with the World’s Best Dad. In the end they split the difference and seemingly live happily ever after.
Who?! Twin film alert! There are not one, but two sets of twins in the film. Junior has a set of twins as neighbors named Dolly and Madison, which appears to be a joke on the Hostess brand of food. Either than or a joke about the First Lady of the US. There is also a brief commercial shown where Grandpa is in a hot tub with twins. Those actresses actually have appeared in a number of BMT qualifying films so look forward to seeing them again.
What?! I think the obvious winner here is the Love Rock, which is like a meteorite or something that crashed near the town and has a heart shaped, red-colored indentation on it. People make wishes on it. Unfortunately this is not a prop I’m seeing for sale, nor did they decide to make it a permanent fixture in Orlando, so presumably it was destroyed. I would have never let that happen.
Where?! It’s odd to encounter these films that have very clear settings sprinkled throughout the internet that are impossible to identify in the actual films. In this case, Problem Child 2 is apparently set in Oregon… that would be mystifying to anyone that actually watches the movie. It’s clearly shot in Orlando and Patrick astutely pointed me to some places (e.g. a phone book) where this is confirmed… so isn’t this set in Orlando? Usually when this happens it’s because in an interview the creators said it was set in Oregon, or the script sets it in Oregon, or someone one time thought it was set in Oregon, or a slight chance it’s actually set in Oregon and we missed it. But I don’t think so. I think this is set in Orlando. C-.
When?! I don’t recall seeing a specific time for the film, but it appears to be set right at the beginning of school. At least when Junior shows up at school and is skipped a few grades he ends up in class where the teacher is going around the classroom finding out what level everyone is operating at as if it’s just off of summer vacation. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. C+.
Oooooooooooof. This is dog poo in my face. In fact it’s the giant dog poo at the end of the film right in my face. It is bizarre to an extreme degree, which at times can be fun. Like the carnival scene which descends into an absurd amount of puke flying around the screen on par with an SNL sketch. Otherwise, they destroyed every single spark of charm that remained from the first one and the actor playing Junior regressed to near unwatchability (presumably due to a combination of a bad script and a poorly chosen director). Add in a good dose of toilet humor and this is just no fun and somehow, despite dropping the problematic aspects of the first film, feels way more gross and unpleasant. You can really just watch the very end of the film (described above) to get the full picture of what this terrible, terrible film is all about. I honestly wonder how John Ritter got through it. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Problem Child was the surprise smash hit comedy sensation of 1990. Run it back!!!!! We’re going again. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I’m 90% sure we owned Problem Child on VHS when we were growing up. Problem Child 2 on the other hand … I think I just saw it several times when it was on cable. I’ve definitely seen it that way, because I also know that they cut out the two scenes involving comically large piles of dog shit. What were my expectations? Well I was hoping for it to be a surrealist delight like the first film. I fully expected it to be an unfunny surrealist nightmare though. I didn’t even like this film as a kid I don’t think.
The Good – Not much. I think the acting is still pretty solid given all the material they are working with. On occasion you get whiffs of the same charming weirdness from the first film (the scene with the animal control officers is amusingly odd for example). The film is worse in every respect compared to its predecessor though so it is difficult to point to anything as actually good with that comparison available. Best Bit: John Ritter.
The Bad – The film is grotesque in precisely the way that critics slammed the first one for (incorrectly I think). There is literally people drinking piss, the aforementioned giant piles of dog shit, a scene with so much vomit that the joke is merely the sheer volume of vomit in the scene, medical mutilation, and animal cruelty. The film is aggressively unfunny, so much so that it mostly ruins the scant charm of the lead child actor in the process. And obviously, when asking for a sequel, it was necessary to revert all character growth as well which is a shame. The whole thing feels like exactly what the film critics thought the first Problem Child was, when in fact they hadn’t seen anything yet. Fatal Flaw: Grotesque body humor.
The BMT – A marvel of our childhood at the very least, I’m quite glad I finally got to see these films back-to-back. They compliment each other very well. The first is a somewhat misunderstood not-really-kids’ movie. The second is the monstrosity that happens when you mix that formula with a cynical cash grab. They are beautiful in a way. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, although I wish the second film was less gross. I would never dare to watch the film again just because it is just so gross to watch. No so with the first.
Roast-radamus – Maybe our first Twin Film (Who?) of the year for the neighbor twin girls that Junior antagonizes. Some decent Product Placement (What?) for things like Uhaul throughout. And a minor Setting as a Character (Where?) for Florida as the phonebook prominently suggests that they are, in fact, in the Orlando area. Wait a second, is that why there are so many divorcees and cougars around? I just got that. Closest to Bad I think.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Since we are going to ignore the direct-to-video third film, let’s go with a Sequel. Junior is all grown up, thirty, and divorced. He worked for his ex-wife’s father so obviously his insurance career is in shambles as well. Adrift he is moping around when who shows up? His step-grandmother Lawanda, with his 9-year-old uncle Ben in tow. It turns out his grandfather, now 90, had left Lawanda for a younger woman and with the kid. Well, like nephew-like-uncle I suppose, because the kid is a nightmare! He terrorizes the neighborhood, wreaking havoc on Junior’s life as he tries to win his wife back. Through Ben, Junior meets a well meaning teacher at the local elementary school and they hit it off. Vengeance on his father-in-law is had, lessons are learned, and Junior and Ben decide to have a go at being a family with Junior officially adopting Ben from Lawanda. Problem Child Generations. Exclusively released to local libraries on VHS.
You Just Got Schooled – I was thinking I would skip this part, but what the hey, I decided to watch The Bad Seed (1956) which the writers of Problem Child claimed the film was vaguely based on (but as a comedy). It is hard to assess old films, this one in particular is two hours, but in reality is a neat 90-minute film where they decided to tell-not-show a bunch of stuff that would have been left unsaid in a a film made in the 80s or 90s. The film is a weird inspiration because the child is the polar opposite of Junior. In The Bad Seed Rhoda is an 8-year-old girl who has a severe temper, appears older and wiser than her age, and is a compulsive liar. A textbook sociopath (given the definition at the time I assume). Junior on the other hand delights in telling you that not only did he do the things he’s accused of, he laughs uncontrollable about it and would do it again with glee. Junior I think would be considered precocious more than anything else. Rhoda is a monster. I liked the movie, but it is slow going, and you’ll get the idea they are going after about 2/3rds of the way through. B, a solid 50s “horror” film in the end.