Problem Child 2
|Problem Child 2|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brian Levant|
|Produced by||Robert Simonds|
|Written by||Scott Alexander
|Music by||David Kitay|
|Edited by||Lois Freeman-Fox
Robert P. Seppey
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$32.7 million|
Problem Child 2 is a 1991 comedy film and a sequel to the 1990 film Problem Child; a continuation of the exploits of Junior (Michael Oliver), an adopted orphan boy who deliberately wreaks comedic havoc everywhere he goes. John Ritter returns as Junior's adopted father, Ben Healy. Amy Yasbeck, who played Ben's wife, Flo, in the first movie, also returns, as school nurse Annie Young. It was produced by producer Robert Simonds, who also produced the first one. It was rated PG-13, unlike its predecessor, which was rated PG.
This second installment in the Problem Child franchise did not fare as well as its predecessor, only performing about half as well at the U.S. box office. It was beat out by another sequel film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was released on the same day.
Ben Healy and his son, Junior, move to Mortville, Oregon, a quiet community, as a way to start over. Ben is initially sad to be leaving Cold River until Junior reminds him that everyone there has been horrible to him his whole life. Before they arrive at their new house, Junior sees a girl roller skating on the sidewalk with a balloon. He pops it with his sling shot and laughs at her as he goes by. Ben and Junior arrive at their new house, and moments later, dozens of women line up in their front yard, all of them wanting to date Ben. He takes two of them on dates: Junior ruins both. Meanwhile, Ben's father, Big Ben Healy (Jack Warden), arrives to live with them when he loses all of his money in a bad investment.
When Junior starts his first day of third grade, he sees that Igor Peabody (Gilbert Gottfried) is the principal of his new school. Igor panics at the sight of him and promptly promotes him to the sixth grade. He gets on school bully Murph's bad side when he tapes him to the chalkboard. Murph retaliates by trying to drop the school's satellite dish on Junior, but it misses him and hits Ben instead, knocking him out. When Ben comes to, he sees school nurse Annie Young and becomes smitten with her. Junior, annoyed at Ben's sudden love interest, retaliates by attempting to draw a mustache on Annie's picture hanging in the hall, only to be foiled by Trixie (Ivyann Schwann), the girl whose balloon he popped earlier. Throughout the film, Trixie and Junior engage in an escalating prank war.
Around the same time, LaWanda DuMore (Laraine Newman), the richest lady in Mortville, takes an interest in Ben, much to Junior's chagrin. While Ben and Junior are gone for the day, she decorates the house to impress Ben. Junior ruins a dinner LaWanda makes by putting live cockroaches in the food. Afterwards, she tells him that when she is his stepmother she will send him to boarding school in Baghdad. He tries to tell Ben that she is bad, but Ben does not believe him.
While at a school function, Ben sees the puppet show go awry and thinks Junior is to blame. He stops it but is surprised to see it was Trixie ruining it. It is also revealed that Annie is her mother. Annie rushes to take her home: Ben tries to tell her he understands what it is like raising a problem child and thinks they can help one another. She tells him she likes him, but if they date, Trixie's behavior would only get worse. He proposes to LaWanda believing she is the only woman who will marry him.
By a chance meeting in a pizza restaurant, Ben, Annie, Junior, and Trixie have dinner together and have a good time, even after the food fight the kids start with Igor and his girlfriend gets them thrown out. Junior and Trixie apologize and decide their parents should date. Junior tries to stop the wedding by switching LaWanda's blood sample with that of a rabid dog. While celebrating her engagement to Ben, she gets cake icing on her face, which bears a striking resemblance to foaming at the mouth (a symptom of rabies). As a result, she is handcuffed by animal control officers and sent to the hospital for observation. With her there, Junior overhears a patient in the room across from hers saying he wants to hold the world record for the world's longest nose. He sabotages her plastic surgery by switching the patient files, resulting in her receiving a gigantic nose – Junior's attempt to make LaWanda so ugly that Ben will not marry her. Unfortunately, she uses her funds to get last minute surgery to undo the damage. At the altar, Junior's and Trixie's work pays off, and Ben finally realizes that Annie is the one for him. Big Ben decides to marry (the now-single) LaWanda, while Junior and Trixie use explosives to splatter both of them with the wedding cake.
- John Ritter as Benjamin 'Ben' Healy, Jr.
- Michael Oliver as Junior Healy
- Jack Warden as Benjamin 'Big Ben' Healy, Sr.
- Laraine Newman as LaWanda Dumore
- Amy Yasbeck as Annie Young
- Ivyann Schwan as Trixie Young
- Gilbert Gottfried as Igor Peabody
- Paul Willson as Smith, LaWanda's Assistant
- Bob Smith as Father Flanagan
- Alan Blumenfeld as Aron Burger
- Krystle and Tiffany Mataras as Dolly and Madison
- Charlene Tilton as Debbie Calukinski
- Kristen Simonds as Rhoda
- Eric Edwards as Murph
- James Tolkan as Mr. Thorn
- Martha Quinn as Emily
- Zach Grenier as Voytek
In 2014, during an 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 the first one, 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 terms "fuckface" and "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 to the film's theatrical release, to reassure parents that the film was suitable for children.
The film did not fare as well as the first one, earning half as much at the U.S. box-office. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 7% of 27 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 2.4/10. The sites consensus read: "Crude, rude, puerile, and pointless, Problem Child 2 represents a cynical nadir in family-marketed entertainment."
- Haithman, Diane (1992-04-23). "'Problem Child' Part III -- The Courtroom : Movies: Universal takes film's child star to court in a bitter contract dispute over his salary for the sequel.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "Problem Child 2". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "Problem Child 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-06-30.