Problem Child is a 1990 comedy about an orphan child who deliberately wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. It starred John Ritter, Amy Yasbeck, Gilbert Gottfried, Jack Warden, Michael Richards and Michael Oliver.
Ben Healy (John Ritter
) is a pleasant but brow-beaten yuppie working for his father "Big Ben" (Jack Warden
), a tyrannical sporting goods dealer. Ben would love to have a son, but his obnoxious wife Flo (Amy Yasbeck
) has been unable to conceive. Ben approaches less-than-scrupulous adoption agent Igor Peabody (Gilbert Gottfried
) with his dilemma, and Igor presents Ben and Flo with a cute 7-year-old boy, Junior (Michael Oliver
). However, Junior is hardly a model child; mean-spirited and incorrigible, the child leaves a path of serious destruction in his wake, and is even pen pals with Martin Beck (Michael Richards
), a notorious serial killer. After the cat ends up in the hospital, the house catches on fire, and Junior displays his effective but unethical method for winning in Little League (involves hitting rival players in the crotch with a baseball bat), Ben is having serious doubts about Junior when Beck escapes from jail and decides to kidnap his faithful correspondent, along with Flo. While Ben first sees this as good riddance to his browbeating wife and the trouble making Junior, when he sees signs that Junior is not the monster he appeared; through a series of pictures Junior drew, he depicts children and adults who treated him poorly as deformed monsters with hostile surroundings, but depicted Ben as a person in a pleasant background, revealing that he did value him as a father figure. Ben, realizing that Junior's behavior was simply a reaction to how he himself was treated, undertakes a rescue mission to get Junior back from Beck.
Two sequels followed:
- Problem Child 2 (1991) brought back the original cast in their original roles and picked up where the first film ended. Amy Yasbeck, however, was given a new role with a new dynamic totally opposite her original character.
- Problem Child 3: Junior in Love (1995), the final film, Gottfried and Warden reprised their respective roles as Mr. Peabody and Big Ben Healy.
Animated TV series
There was an animated
TV series that aired in 1993. Gottfried was the only original cast member to be featured as a voice-over actor.
Special DVD release
and Problem Child 2
were released together on DVD in the US
on March 2
, as a package entitled Problem Child Tantrum Pack
. These films were in the pan and scan
format only. However, no home video release so far features the bonus footage shown on the USA Network's TV airings of the film.
Problem Child was re-released on the Family Comedy Pack Quadruple Feature DVD (with other comedy films like Kindergarten Cop, Kicking & Screaming, and Major Payne) in anamorphic widescreen (being the film's first widescreen Region 1 DVD release) on August 5, 2008.
These scenes were absent from the theatrical and home video versions of the film, but were present in TV airings on USA Network
- Junior talking to a nun prior to his being adopted.
- The Bow Tie Killer having a flashback before strangling the prison psychiatrist.
- The Healy's old lady neighbor insulting them for Fuzzball having gone to the bathroom in her flowers.
- Junior drawing a picture of Ben whacking Roy with a frying pan.
- Junior terrorizing the milkman and paperboy with an RC helicopter (although cut from theatrical/home video airings, a picture from this scene appears on some home video boxes.)
- Ben making it look like the backpack has $100,000 in it.
- The Bow Tie Killer encounters a bearded lady at the circus.
- Before Junior exits the house, Roy yells for Ben to hurry up.
- At the circus, one of Junior's old nuns spots Ben running around.