Problem Child 2

Problem Child 2 is a 1991 American black 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 his adopted father, Ben Healy. Amy Yasbeck, who played Ben's wife, Flo, in the first movie, also returns, this time as school nurse Annie Young who's had a daughter named Trixie Young (Ivyann Schwan) who's also a problem child. It was produced by Robert Simonds, who also produced the first one. It was rated PG-13, unlike its predecessor, which was rated PG.

Problem Child 2
Problem child two poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian Levant
Produced byRobert Simonds
Written byScott Alexander
Larry Karaszewski
Music byDavid Kitay
CinematographyPeter Smokler
Edited byLois Freeman-Fox
Robert P. Seppey
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • July 3, 1991 (1991-07-03)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$11–15 million[1]
Box office$32.7 million[2]

The film did not fare as well as its predecessor, although it became a success at the box office. It beat out by another sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was released on the same day.


One year after their previous misadventures, Ben Healy (John Ritter) and his adopted son Junior (Michael Oliver) move from Cold River, Illinois to the quiet community of Mortville, Oregon to start over, following Ben and Flo's divorce. Moments after they arrive, dozens of women line up in their front yard, all wanting to date Ben.

On Junior's first day of third grade, he finds that Igor Peabody (Gilbert Gottfried), the adoption agent from the first film, is the principal at his new school. Horrified, Igor promptly promotes Junior to sixth grade. There, Junior meets Murph (Eric Edwards), the school bully, and gets on his bad side when he tapes him to the chalkboard. Murph retaliates by dropping the school's satellite dish on Junior, but it misses him and hits Ben instead, knocking him out. When Ben comes to, he sees the school nurse, Annie Young (Amy Yasbeck in a different role than in the original film), and becomes smitten with her. Junior, annoyed at Ben's sudden love interest, attempts to vandalize Annie's picture hanging in the hall, only to be foiled by Trixie (Ivyann Schwan), Annie's daughter, who is as mischievous as Junior. When Junior confronts Trixie for harassing him, Trixie states that she can harass anybody she wants and punctuates her point by giving Junior a lit M-80. Junior panics and promptly flushes it, and it explodes right when his teacher, Mr. Thorn (James Tolkan), sits on the toilet. Throughout the film, Junior and Trixie engage in an escalating prank war.

Ben decides to date again to find a new wife and mother, but Junior is against it. He thwarts Ben's first date by phoning her jealous former husband, who storms into the restaurant and picks a fight with Ben. Junior also videotapes his irresponsible babysitter having sex with her boyfriend and broadcasts it to the entire neighborhood. Ben reminds Junior they are new in town and must attempt to fit in.

That evening, Ben's father, Big Ben Healy (Jack Warden) and his Jack Russell terrier, Nippy, arrive to live with them after he loses all of his money in a bad investment. Ben's second date goes even worse when Junior rewires the doorbell, and the woman gets electrocuted. Around the same time, LaWanda Dunmore (Laraine Newman), the richest, snootiest, kid-hating woman in Mortville, takes an interest in Ben, while being horrified by Junior's past, which includes the Union Carbide plant explosion. While Ben and Junior are gone, she redecorates the house to impress Ben.

Meanwhile, Ben takes Junior to a carnival. After being taunted by Trixie and Murph for being too short to ride the Crazy Dance, as well as seeing Trixie cheat her way on by wearing platform shoes, Junior tampers with the ride by turning its settings up to warp speed, causing everyone, including Trixie and Murph, to get sick and vomit all over each other and the entire ride to eventually break down. On the way home, a disappointed Ben makes Junior promise to behave.

However, when Junior learns that LaWanda redecorated his room with a clown theme, which he detests, he swiftly reneges on his promise and retaliates by putting live cockroaches in her dinner. Disgusted and angered, she threatens to send him to boarding school in Baghdad when she is his mother. He tries to tell Ben this, but Ben refuses to believe him, saying Junior is no longer credible.

At a school function, a puppet show goes awry. Ben is surprised to see Trixie, not Junior, was behind it, and that Annie is her mother. Ben tries to tell Annie he understands what it is like raising a problem child and thinks they can help one another. She acknowledges she likes him, but if they date, Trixie's behavior will only get worse. Ben proposes to LaWanda, believing she is the only woman who will marry him.

By a chance meeting at a pizzeria, Ben, Annie, Junior, and Trixie dine together and have a good time, even after the food fight that the kids start with Igor gets them banned from the restaurant; Junior and Trixie apologize for pranking each other and become best friends, deciding their parents should date.

Junior tries to stop the wedding by switching LaWanda's blood sample with that of a rabid dog. Handcuffed by animal control and sent to the hospital for observation, LaWanda is more determined than ever that the wedding goes on. Junior then switches LaWanda's chart again with a patient having surgery to enlarge his nose, believing it will make LaWanda so ugly that Ben will not want to marry her. The night before the wedding, Junior and Trixie make a wish at the town Love Rock that their parents will get together.

At the altar the next day, LaWanda reveals she had last-minute plastic surgery to fix her nose. Just then, Trixie appears operating a bulldozer with the Love Rock, and LaWanda, revealing herself as a child hater (which makes Ben realize Junior was telling the truth about her), gets trapped underneath. Ben tells Annie that she is the one he really wants and suggests Big Ben should marry LaWanda himself, which he does. Junior puts Trixie's firecracker in his slingshot, causing the cake to blast off and land on LaWanda and Big Ben. Junior, Ben, Annie, and Trixie then walk off into the sunset as the film comes to a close.



The film was shot on location in Orlando, Florida from January 16 to March 15, 1991, including the then newly, opened Universal Studios Florida.[citation needed] The "Pizzariffic" scene was filmed at a small, vacant restaurant on Orlando Avenue in Maitland (which became Buca di Beppo 2 years later). The gift shop in the opening montage is on International Drive in Orlando. At another point in the opening montage, Junior and Ben get donuts from Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, California. The scenes for the Healys' house were filmed at 1216 Lancaster Drive in Orlando. When Junior and Ben are leaving Cold River at the beginning, they are driving down Atlanta Avenue in Orlando. All of the "Mortville Elementary School" scenes were filmed at Orlando's Kaley Elementary School. The Crow Orlando bar on East Pine Street in Downtown Orlando was used for the Dunmore Bank. Orlando's Harry P. Leu Gardens was used as the "Love Rock" backdrop for the wedding scene. The Hyatt Regency Orlando was used as the "Saint Pierre Club" backdrop for Ben and Debbie's date scene.

In 2014, during an interview on Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, screenwriters Alexander and 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.

Frustrated with the criticisms of the first film, they deliberately increased the poor taste, 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 a PG-13 on appeal, but the studio was still so nervous that, at the last minute, they added the 1947 Woody Woodpecker cartoon Smoked Hams to its theatrical run, to reassure parents that it was suitable for children.[3]


The film did not fare as well as the first one, earning half as much at the U.S. box-office.[1] Rotten Tomatoes reports that 7% of 27 surveyed critics gave it 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."[4] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B+" on scale of A to F.[5]

Variety magazine stated: "At times this poor version of a sitcom seems written by five-year-olds for five-year-olds, so much so that one suspects its script was fingerpainted."[6]

TV VersionEdit

Problem Child 2 first aired on NBC-TV on November 2, 1992,[7] with 7 minutes of previously deleted scenes.


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ "Problem Child 2". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  3. ^ "GILBERT GOTTFRIED'S AMAZING COLOSSAL PODCAST!" (Podcast). Archived from the original on 2014-12-29. Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  4. ^ "Problem Child 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  5. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  6. ^ Variety Staff (December 31, 1990). "Problem Child 2". Variety.
  7. ^ "Monday TV". NY Daily News. New York City, New York. November 2, 1992.

External linksEdit