Problem Child

From Awful Movies Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Problem Child
220px-Problem Child.jpg
"You are, you stupid dick!"

"Same rating as Frozen, folks!"

- Nostalgia Critic
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Written By: Scott Alexander
Larry Karazewski
Starring: Michael Oliver
John Ritter
Michael Richards
Gilbert Gottfired
Jack Warden
Amy Yasbeck
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 27, 1990
Runtime: 81 minutes
Country: United States
Sequel: Problem Child 2

Problem Child is a 1990 black comedy film distributed by Universal Pictures. It would receive two sequels, 1991's Problem Child 2 and 1995's Problem Child 3, as well as an animated TV series in 1993. It was directed by Dennis Dugan (in his directorial debut) and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski.


A young boy who is just short of a monster is adopted by a loving man and his snooty wife, and pushes them to their limits.

Why It Sucks

  1. The opening scene is stupid as a mother picks up Junior and then he pees on her.
  2. Lots of blatant product placements like: Cabbage Patch Kids, Icee, Milk Duds, Hello Kitty, Pepsi, etc.
  3. The infamous scene where Junior extinguishes a fire by urinating on it.
  4. Lots of animal cruelity.
  5. In fact, the poster got protests as seen above, as it shows a cat in a washing machine. There is even a scene where Junior splinters the cats' legs.
  6. At times it can't decide if it wants to be a black comedy or a family movie. Not helping that in 2019 Universal released a way better Black Comedy revolving children called: Good Boys. Which succeeds in being a black comedy and an adult movie thanks to being rated R, but Problem Child fails thanks to its PG rating.
    • In fairness the movie was originally written as a black comedy and an adult satire, yet it still looks more like a family movie.
  7. In the bear scene you can tell that between every shot it switches between a real bear and a costume.
  8. The birthday scene where Junior ruins the party looks more like a B-roll footage.
  9. In one scene Junior beats everyone in the baseball game, and then lil' Ben realizes and he said that they've adopted Satan.
  10. Big Ben is also unlikable.
  11. Half of the time, the jokes are really unfunny and stupid.
  12. False advertising: as mentioned above the poster shows a cat in a washing machine but that never happens in the movie.
  13. Igor Peabody (played by Gilbert Gottfried) has an annoying voice.
  14. Seeing a kid contracting a criminal is beyond creepy.
  15. Some scenes go on for too long for no reason.
  16. Igor Peabody didn't even warn about Junior. When Ben and Flo we're going to adopt him, yet even Big-Ben realized and his son Lil-Ben didn't trust him either.
  17. Flo is also unlikable. When the cat gets injured, we see that she is worried about the cat and not Junior and she hides her secrets from his husband.
  18. Bland effects at least most of them.
  19. Poor character development.
  20. Confusing story.
  21. While awesome, Kerry Von Erich barely gets to do anything and only appears for a short while.
  22. Flo telling Ben that she wanted a divorce was very forced, not to mention being in a suitcase when saying that.
  23. While being on that subject, how did she even survived being shoved into the suitcase!?

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The plot is pretty interesting.
  2. One of the prison inmates is played by former WCCW, USWA, and WWE wrestler "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich of the famous Von Erich Wrestling Family. While he doesn't do much, he's actually pretty good with what he has.
  3. The soundtrack is decent, especially "Bad to the Bone" which is the movie's biggest highlight.
  4. Junior apologizes at the end.
  5. The church scene is heartwarming.
  6. Little Ben and Junior are both likable and relatable characters.
  7. The Bowtie Killer is a pretty good villain.
  8. Igor Peabody is pretty good comic relief, and a great foil to Junior.
  9. There's still some funny jokes here and there.
  10. All of Junior's victims get what they deserve due to being the scum of the Earth.
  11. The acting is OK from a superb cast.
  12. Some of the effects are good for a movie from the early 90s
  13. Seeing a Young kid tormenting everyone can be fun to some.
  14. John Ritter and Michael Richards both give good performances and don't phone it in.


The film was panned by critics despite being a box office success. The film has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic consensus that reads "Mean-spirited and hopelessly short on comic invention, Problem Child is a particularly unpleasant comedy, one that's loaded with manic scenery chewing and juvenile pranks." Despite the negativity, Problem Child ended up being the most successful movie by Universal at the time.

Awards And nominations

Gilbert Gottfried (as well as for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Look Who's Talking Too) was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Donald Trump in Ghosts Can't Do It.



  • Co-writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski got the idea for this film from a newspaper article they read about a couple who sued an adoption agency for giving them a boy with a violent history without informing them beforehand.
  • Alexander and Karaszewski originally envisioned the film as both a black comedy and an adult satire of the then-popular trend in films where cute children teach cynical adults how to love.
  • Amy Yasbeck returns in the sequel as Nurse Annie Young.
  • Macaulay Culkin auditioned for the role of Junior.
  • Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Kurt Russell, and John Travolta were all considered for the role of Little Ben Healy.
  • Kirstie Alley, Kim Basinger, the late Carrie Fisher, Mary Steenburgen, and Catherine O'Hara were all considered for the role of Flo Healy.
  • Christopher Lloyd was supposed to play the Bowtie Killer, but turned down the role because of his commitments with Back to the Future Part III’'.



Mr. Dready

one month ago
Score 2
It’s like Home Alone, but not funny.

Mr. Dready

one month ago
Score 2
Ironically both the first Home Alone nad Problem Child came out the same year.


9 days ago
Score 0
I actually liked this movie.

You are not allowed to post comments.