Review: ‘Problem Child’

Universal took a step in the right direction by whittling Problem Child down to just 81 minutes but didn't go far enough. The studio should have excised another 75 minutes and released this unbelievable mess as a short. (Several characters listed in the credits never show upon screen.)

Universal took a step in the right direction by whittling Problem Child down to just 81 minutes but didn’t go far enough. The studio should have excised another 75 minutes and released this unbelievable mess as a short. (Several characters listed in the credits never show upon screen.)

John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck play a yuppie couple determined to have a child, primarily so they can be invited to the neighbors’ birthday parties for their own kids. Unable to conceive themselves, they get suckered into adopting round-faced Junior (Michael Oliver), a child repulsive enough to make nuns cheer when he’s taken from their care.

The major subplot has Junior becoming pen pals with a serial killer (Michael Richards) who busts out of prison to see him, leading to a kidnaping and chase that makes Smokey and the Bandit look like Citizen Kane.

The film marks an atrocious bigscreen debut for actor and episodic TV director Dennis Dugan. The most offensive character is Yasbeck’s shrill, status-conscious wife.

Problem Child

Production

Imagine. Director Dennis Dugan; Producer Robert Simonds; Screenplay Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski; Camera Peter Lyons Collister; Editor Daniel Hanley, Michael Hill; Music Miles Goodman; Art Director George Costello

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

John Ritter Jack Warden Michael Oliver Gilbert Gottfried Amy Yasbeck Michael Richards

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