Problem Child (1990)

Genres - Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Family-Oriented Comedy  |   Release Date - Jul 27, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Problem Child has got to be one of the most irritating and empty films to have made so much more money than expected at the box office. Despite the game efforts of John Ritter and a performance from child actor Michael Oliver in need of a heavy dose of Ritalin, the film alternates "madcap" scenes of infantile brattiness with sections of gooey sentiment in a way that's nothing short of sullying. The film was a testament to the box-office perseverance of a picture with universally poor notices, and since this was well before he became known as Cosmo Kramer, the popularity of Problem Child can hardly be traced to Michael Richards' turn as a goofy serial killer. Audience appetite was clearly high for comedies with these basic ingredients, as ticket buyers made Home Alone one of the highest-grossing comedies of all time later that same year. But these scenes of mayhem are barely pleasing as rejected segments from America's Funniest Home Videos, though they do get the eyeballs rolling at about that level. Problem Child was probably more important to Ritter and co-star Amy Yasbeck than anyone else -- after first working together here, the two would later marry in 1999.