Believe it or not, "Problem Child 2" is a landmark film in a couple of ways: It's the first movie rated PG-13 instead of R to feature an extended projectile vomiting sequence, and it strikes a new low in the kind of vulgar entertainment Hollywood churns out for children.
The original cast John Ritter, Jack Warden, Amy Yasbeck, Gilbert Gottfried and young Michael Oliver returns for this sequel to last year's surprise hit. "Problem Child" was a spoof of "The Bad Seed," which started off as rather funny, then rapidly slid downhill into a sea of tasteless gags. But "Problem Child 2" is determined to exceed its predecessor's gross-out material and effortlessly achieves its goal.
The meager plot has recently divorced Ben Healy (Ritter) taking his adopted son Junior (Oliver) to Mortville, "the divorcee capital of the world," as a neighbor says. It plays like a spin on the old Bob Hope picture "Bachelor in Paradise," with Ritter surrounded by marriage-minded divorcees who literally line up at his door with cherry pies (among them, Charlene Tilton of TV's "Dallas" and MTV veejay Martha Quinn).
But Junior doesn't like the idea of Dad dating and, consequently, spending less time with him, so he pulls all sorts of pranks to slow him down. Meanwhile, Junior meets his match with a little girl (Ivyann Schwan) at school. (Her mother is played by Yasbeck, who had the
role of Ritter's wife in the first film.)
But the plot is really just a thin excuse for a string of low, "Animal House"-style skits.
The tone is set early when we see, under the opening credits, Dad and Junior urinating by the side of a road and then Junior making an obscene gesture.
Other highlights: Junior turns up the speed of a carnival ride, causing everyone to throw up on everybody else in a scene that seems to go on forever; Junior urinates in a lemonade pitcher and laughs as a neighbor drinks a glassful; the family dog defecates a pile twice his size a joke deemed so funny that it's used twice; and, of course, there's the expected flatulence, nose-picking and food fight.
What can you say about a movie that tries to display Laraine Newman as a sex object and has women chasing after John Ritter, describing him as "beefcake"?
The worst sin, however, is selling this piece of slime to children. Executives at Universal Pictures apparently have no shame.
It's a given that Ritter has none.
Even the Woody Woodpecker cartoon playing with this movie is bad.
"Problem Child 2" is rated PG-13 for extensive vulgarity and profanity, comic violence and sex (a scene with a babysitter and her boyfriend).