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Film / Problem Child

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He's so bad, even the nuns refused to keep him.

"Just this morning, I came upon a seven-year-old. He's smart as a tack, a little rambunctious, but, weren't we all at that age?"
Igor Peabody, introducing the Healys to Junior for the first time.

Problem Child is a 1990 comedy film, the first film directed by Dennis Dugan and starring John Ritter. It surrounds the destructive antics of a seven-year-old boy known only as Junior, who has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He ultimately lands in the hapless custody of good-hearted Ben Healy, and his wife, Flo. While Flo merely wants the social status that comes with being a mother, and quickly despises Junior, Ben just can't bring himself to give up on him. In the meantime, Junior unleashes a kind of Comedic Sociopathy on neighborhood kids and adults that hasn't been seen since Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner.

This movie received overwhelmingly negative reviews during its theatrical release, and is Dennis Dugan's second worst-reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes, second only to Jack and Jill, but it achieved cult status on home video.

It was followed by two sequels. The first, Problem Child 2, was released in 1991. After the chaos of the first film, Ben and Junior relocate to a new town and attempt to start their lives fresh. They both meet complications in doing so - Ben becomes highly sought after by LaWanda, a wealthy figure in town and a notorious man-eater and Child Hater, which spells trouble for Junior. Unfortunately, Junior already has his hands full at his new school, where among other things he has to contend with Trixie, the rare prankster kid with a sadistic streak to match his.

Problem Child 3: Junior in Love was a TV movie, which aired on NBC in 1995. Most of the characters were recast for this one, and Junior is again relocated to a new school. This time, he falls for a girl named Tiffany, and sets out to give his usual treatment to the other boys vying for her.

There was also an animated television series based on the movies. Its page is here.

Tropes associated with these movies:

    open/close all folders 

  • Adults Are Useless: Almost every adult in the films is either cruel, clueless, or makes no effort to rein in Junior's tendencies and give him a nurturing environment. Ben subverts this a little bit, but his efforts are undone by his own spinelessness. Subverted with Lucy's mom, who forces her daughter to let Junior come to her party.
  • Babysitter's Nightmare: Junior is characterized as a holy terror through this trope, being passed from foster family to foster family before winding up in the care of an orphan home run by nuns. This is before he meet the Healys, and the man who would become his dad.
  • Bad to the Bone: Junior's Leitmotif is George Thorogood and the Destroyers' "Bad To The Bone", and the opening riff sounds pretty often when he's causing mayhem.
  • It's All About Me: Flo Healy and LaWanda Dumore only care about making themselves look good.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Gottfried's character, Mr. Peabody, was an adoption agent in the first film, a principal in the second (and cartoon) and a dentist in the third.
  • Nice Guy: Ben Healy is the nicest person in the series, hands down, because he genuinely loves Junior even when he's bad. The problem is that a lot of people find it easy to take advantage of that kindness.
  • Re-Cut: Both 1 and 2 aired on television, edited for content, but with newly-added scenes to make up for what was cut. You can watch them here and here.
  • Shout-Out: Below is a list of examples from all three movies:
    • The poster of the 1st movie resembles that of Parenthood.
    • In 3, when Murph (Eric Edwards) introduces Junior to his sister Bertha (played by Edwards in drag), Junior says "Who let her out of Jurassic Park?" Both Jurassic Park and Problem Child franchises are Universal releases.
    • Also in the third film, Dr. Peabody wears a Watchmen button on his suit.
  • World of Jerkass: The number of genuinely nice people you'll find in this setting can pretty much be counted on one hand. Kids Are Cruel (not just Junior, but many others as well, whom Junior often gets brutal revenge on), adults are passive-aggressive at best and sourpuss Jerkasses at worst, and often times the only one who seems to have a heart is Ben Healy.

    Problem Child 
  • Adoption Diss: Lucy Henderson's friends say that Junior's "not even a real kid. He's adopted."
  • All Just a Dream: The TV version adds a scene during Martin's ink blot test, in which he hallucinates, and dreams about being set to the electric chair, and escaping from it in the process, but not before sending the Warden to it.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The nuns throw a celebration at the orphanage when Ben Healy decides to adopt Junior.
  • Batter Up!: Junior's dad gives him the tip of "holding onto the bat" after two strikes. After hitting the ball, he holds onto the bat while making his way to the bases and uses it to beat up anyone in his way.
  • Bears Are Bad News: During the camp scene, Roy wanted to scare everyone wearing a bear costume. The prank goes south when Junior finds a real bear and brings it to the camp with a steak.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Junior is shown to actually like Ben as a father, since Ben was the first person to adopt him to actually treat him better.
  • Big Bad: Martin, aka the Bow Tie Killer, the escaped convict who Junior writes letters to, becomes a bigger danger to Ben's family than Junior could ever be.
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong: Junior goes to a Lucy's birthday party. She and her other guests mistreat him and exclude him from many activities (because "he's not even a real kid; he's adopted"), so Junior takes his revenge on her by doing the following: filling the pinata with the contents of several pickle jars, throwing her presents in the pool, putting a live frog in the punch bowl, and replacing the cake's candles with firecrackers.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mother Superior. Eventually, Ben and Flo themselves. Practically anyone under Junior's sly revengeful stunts.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The dried-up prune Ben carries around as a good luck charm, which ends up saving his life when he takes a bullet for Junior.
  • Comically Small Demand: After the disastrous birthday party that he realizes Junior instigated, Ben at first considers spanking him but instead orders Junior to return his allowance of $1. Junior, having stolen hundreds of dollars by now, has to shuffle through his drawer for a one-dollar bill.
  • Copycat Mockery: Junior repeats what Mr. Peabody says and does during a conversation with the nuns.
  • Corrupt Politician: Big Ben has absolutely no loyalty to the office he is running for, and all his campaign promises are Blatant Lies. Fortunately, he's exposed as a phony at the end. (See Is This Thing Still On?).
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Junior.
  • Doorstop Baby: Junior was left at a random door, and this was repeated for each set of adoptive parents even when he outgrew the basket.
  • Especially Zoidberg:
    Big Ben: Is there a lesson to be learned from all this? How about don't trust anyone?
    Little Ben: Not even your own father?
    Big Ben: Especially your own father!
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Bow-Tie Killer is the nickname of Martin Beck.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Bow Tie Killer to Ben Healy. Junior has a fondness for both of them, however while Ben is genuinely caring, compassionate and a doting father to Junior, The Bow Tie Killer is sociopathic, ruthless and intends on using Junior as a means to an end, nothing more.
  • Groin Attack:
    • The climax of the baseball scene ends with Junior hitting the catcher's balls with the bat. "We've adopted Satan."
    • Also, in response to Beck's offer of terrorizing the state together, Junior kicks him right there.
  • I Have a Family: Mayor Healy and Principal Peabody failed to keep their end of a bargain with mobsters. Healy played straight with the trope by stating he had a family. Peabody, on the other hand, said he didn't have one but could get one.
  • I Have Your Wife: And adopted son. Beck at first uses this blackmail on Ben to get $100,000 in cash. Ben at first decides "Screw 'em, I want to be left alone!" but then has a change-of-heart for Junior upon seeing an impressive drawing of himself. But he still lets Beck keep Flo.
  • I Love the Smell of X in the Morning:
    Junior: [After breaking several milk bottles] I love the smell of spilled milk in the morning. It smells like victory. note 
  • Inkblot Test: The prison psychiatrist is giving a Rorschach test to the Bow Tie Killer (Martin Beck), only the "inkblots" are actually bloodstains left by his victims. While the warden is in the room he lies, saying he sees things like butterflies and bunnies hopping across fields. This enrages the warden, and the psychiatrist forces him to leave. Once the warden leaves, the psychiatrist continues the test, and the Bow Tie Killer says he sees blood, and kills the psychiatrist, puts on his clothes and drives out of prison. Why no one was watching what was going on from behind a two-way mirror is anyone's guess.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Shortly before the climax, Ben asks his Jerkass father Big Ben for money to pay the ransom of his kidnapped wife and son while the former is preparing for his Mayor campaign speech. When he turns him down, Ben then asks "Hey, Dad! Why don't you tell all the voters what you really plan on doing with this town?" and surreptitiously turns on the camera:
    Big Ben: I don't give a rat's ass for the voters! All I care about is the power and the power that'll give me the money. That's why I'm a success and you're not! America for the Americans. If you believe that nonsense, you're even stupider than I thought! I'd sell my soul to the Japanese if they made me an offer. And as for you, don't come suckering around me if you want something! The only thing you'll get from me is this! (moons the camera)
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Big Ben Healy mentions that he's selling his store and his land to Japanese businessmen. If you watch carefully during the baseball game, you can even see them briefly.
  • Jerkass: Big Ben Healy. The same with Flo. The same with many of the children, especially towards Junior. Junior himself is a quite a bit of one in his own way, but is shown to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold in the end.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Several examples:
  • Leitmotif: The Bow Tie Killer has a harmonica tune playing whenever he comes on-screen.
  • Mooning: Big Ben does this without realizing that the camera is on.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Ben is a Nice Guy while Flo is a self-centered harpy. The two share absolutely nothing in common.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: The Bow-Tie Killer claims he's this. Junior, however, actually plays it straight because he's a nice enough kid if he's treated like a human being.
  • Nun Too Holy: The nuns at the orphanage are downright mean, and they eventually use underhanded tactics to trick the Healeys into adopting Junior.
  • Oh, Crap!: The parrot's reaction to Junior upon his arrival at the Healy house.
  • Papa Wolf: Ben, when he meets up with Martin at the Circus.
    Little Ben Healy: "What did you say you Bow-Tie freak? NOBODY hurts my boy, now let him go!"
    • Same thing later on, when he uses himself as a shield to protect Junior from being shot by Martin.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Ben finally gets to this point when one of Junior's stunts bankrupts him. He only barely stops himself from smothering Junior, and allows Beck to kidnap him.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music during the bear attack is recycled from the 1987 film Real Men, also scored by Miles Goodman and also starring John Ritter.
  • Spoiled Brat: There's nothing nice at all about Lucy Henderson who definitely deserved what was coming to her, and even her own mom came close to punishing her by threatening to cancel her party. Flo is an adult version in that she spoils herself and forces Ben to cave into her every wish.
  • Taking the Bullet: Ben does this for Junior at the climax when the Bow-Tie Killer shoots at him. Fortunately the dried plum saves him.
  • Take That!: This line from Big Ben Healy speaks for itself.
    Big Ben Healy: "Happy? You don't know what you're letting yourself in for. For all you know, his parents may have met in the looney bin. They might even be Democrats!"
  • With Friends Like These...: Ben's neighbor Roy, who loves to make fun of him and acts in a rather condescending manner. Ben does get a measure of payback at the end by stealing his van (and his Super Dad cap) to go rescue Junior, though.
  • You Can Keep Her!: When the Bow Tie Killer kidnaps Flo and Junior, Ben is initially overjoyed that they are gone. However after seeing a drawing Junior made of him, he realizes Junior loves him and goes out to rescue him. Flo's not so lucky, though.

    Problem Child 2 
  • Actor Allusion: One for James Tolkan (Mr. Thorn). One of the rules he has written on the blackboard is "No Slackers", which alludes to his similar role as Principal Strickland in Back to the Future.
  • Artistic License – Biology: There is no blood test for rabies (antibodies) on either dog or human. Tests are performed on saliva, spinal fluid and hair follicles, plus they only give the result when the human has active rabies - which means he or she will die almost 100% surely in the next 3-4 days.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: The Crazy Dance Scene. Normally, there would have been a kill switch in easy reach of the operator who could have shut the ride down for going too fast instead of simply gaping as he's shown to do. For that matter, the speed controls would likely be accessible only to him instead of simply being out in the open as they are. But then we wouldn't have a scene of unadulterated gross-out comedy.
  • Bad Date: Junior has a bit of a problem adjusting to his dad trying to get him a new mom, and as a result sabotages two of his dates. This sets up the Cassandra Truth situation later in the movie where Junior is trying to get his dad not to marry LaWanda Dumore, a Rich Bitch Child Hater who has it in for him.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When the puppet show is overthrown by someone using very crude humor and foul language, Ben immediately thinks that Junior is responsible for this since this isn't unlike his usual antics. He's charging through to confront his son only to find Junior in the audience laughing at the puppet show...and Trixie being the one sabotaging the puppet show.
    Ben: Who are you?
    Trixie: Who the hell are you?
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: While on the Crazy Dance ride, Murph proclaims that it's going at "pansy speed" and insists it get pumped up. He gets his wish when Junior cranks the speed up to levels too much for him to handle. Along with everyone else on and nearby the ride.
  • Betty and Veronica: Annie is a sweet nurse who can relate to having a troublesome child, while LaWanda is more sultry and outgoing. (She's also a Rich Bitch and Child Hater, but Ben doesn't see this until the wedding.)
  • Big Bad: LaWanda Dumore, mostly. Trixie Young is more of a Decoy Antagonist.
  • Brick Joke: Big Ben's "Millionaire Starter Kit" is a double-dipped example. Little Ben and Junior see a cheesy TV ad for the obvious scam, and in a later scene Junior calls Voytek, who's living in squalor with one of the kits sitting on the counter behind him. The gag comes back again when Big Ben moves in with them, lamenting that his scheme went bust and he only sold one starter kit.
  • Butt-Monkey: Primarily LaWanda. But all other Ben's dates take the brunt as well. Mr. Peabody is in several scenes. The School Teacher in one scene, not to mention Junior himself in one scene when he is outsmarted and hosed by Trixie. Ben Healy is in one scene. Big Ben Healy is in one to several scenes as well. Practically anyone under Junior's sly revengeful stunts.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Junior throws dynamite down a toilet to stop Trixie's prank, causing all the toilets to explode, including one his teacher is using. The teacher wears a diaper for the rest of the film.
  • Child Hater: LaWanda Dumore. Cemented when she threatens to send Junior to boarding school in Baghdad (where there was a goddamn war on at the time the film was released!), out-and-out stated during the climax.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • While having dinner, Ben tells Annie about Big Ben's electoral downfall.
    • While looking for the kids, Annie asks if Junior's ever run away before. Ben lets out an embarrassed "Uh..." before changing the subject.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: LaWanda threatens to send Junior to Baghdad. Baghdad would probably get the worst of it.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Ben and Junior favor blue with a touch of red in their outfits, all of Big Ben's clothes are mostly green, just about everything LaWanda wears or owns is bright red, and Annie mostly wears white. The color motif enhances the more cartoony vibe of this movie when compared to the original.
  • Covered in Gunge:
  • Crying Wolf: Thanks to Junior chasing away all the decent women Little Ben tried to date, he won't listen to his accurate warnings about LaWanda.
  • Cute and Psycho: Trixie. Utterly adorable, wears pretty little dresses, and is the only kid in town with a sadistic streak to match Junior's.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Junior and Trixie.
  • Disappeared Dad: Nothing is ever mentioned on Trixie's father.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Junior's barred from an amusement park ride due to being about a millimeter too short. After he sees Trixie cheat her way in by wearing platform shoes, he decides to tamper with the ride's controls, causing it to spin much too fast. Sure, it only made everyone on the Crazy Dance throw up, but something much worse could have easily happened.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Trixie is every bit the prankster that Junior is. The difference is that Junior usually saves his material for people who wrong him or his father while Trixie causes chaos for her own amusement.
  • Dog Food Diet: Debbie Claukinski's ex-husband Voytek is in his rathole apartment eating Chow Down when Junior calls. Chow Down, which comes in Beef, Chicken, and Horse and made Nippy take a dump three times his size.
  • The Dragon: Big Ben Healy pushes his son to marry LaWanda so he can be rich again.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: When Junior and his dad go to Pizzariffic, Walk Away by Alanis Morissette, credited as just Alanis, is playing through the speakers. Her style of music was very different in her first two albums.
  • Entitled Bastard: Big Ben Healy was a lousy father, and even worse step-grandfather to Junior, yet has no problems using his son's home as a safe house from the SEC.
  • Explosive Overclocking: The Crazy Dance Sequence. Junior turns the machine up as far as it will go (why the ride's controls are so accessible in the first place is anyone's guess), resulting in a 2-minute barfing spree before the ride's machinery disintegrates in a shower of sparks and smoke.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • Junior is driving his dad home, and an unseen driver cuts him off. The kid knows how to make use of "the highway salute".
    • Trixie gives Junior one in the middle of the school hallway before running off.
  • Food Fight: Ticked off when Junior flicks an olive into the cleavage of Mr. Peabody's date at the pizzeria.
  • Gasshole: Mr. Peabody refuses to accept that Junior is actually in his school, and thinks it's just a bad dream. Junior challenges this notion, on the grounds that a bad dream couldn't fart at him - which Junior does, loudly.
    "If I was a figment of your imagination, could I do...this?"
  • Grade Skipper: Mr. Peabody skips Junior ahead to the sixth grade just so he can get him out of the school faster.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Ben nearly marries a child-hating millionairess.
    • This continues the running theme of the first movie of him falling for less-than-savory women.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Trixie started out antagonizing Junior, but eventually, she ends up befriending him. It helps that they have common ambitions, such as hooking their parents up, and pranking awful adults who piss them off.
  • Held Back in School: Murph has been at the school for at least as long as his long-suffering teacher. He's practically an adult:
    Murph: "The kid doesn't know who he's talking to. I'm a senior student in this school."
    Junior: "No shit, you've been here since 1970!"
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Ben doesn’t believe Junior about LaWanda because of how Junior sabotaged all his dates before.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: When Junior is asked by two snotty twin girls to refill a pitcher of lemonade, he does so with urine. The twins' father, Aron Burger, takes a drink from it.
  • Jar Potty: Junior takes a whiz in order to refill a pitcher of lemonade for a pair of snobbish twin sisters that he wants to get back at. The twins' father, Aron Burger, is the one who ends up taking a sample of Junior's little concoction.
  • Jerkass: LaWanda. Including Big Ben Healy. Many of the kids are as well, especially towards Junior. Junior himself is a quite a bit of one in his own way.
  • Kick the Dog: When LaWanda learns of the "nightmare" of a kid that the man she wants to marry has, she says this regarding him: "When someone has a bum leg, you don't shoot the patient; you just cut off the leg." In addition, her introduction scene has her having some people from a nursing home thrown out onto the street, and when her assistant brings this up, she goes "Oh, boo hoo hoo!" in an extremely unsympathetic tone.
  • Kids Driving Cars: Played with - in the wedding scene, Trixie crashes the party with a backhoe.
    • Junior himself takes over driving near the beginning when he and his dad are heading to Mortville, complete with him giving the "highway salute" to a driver who cuts him off.
  • Kids Play Matchbreaker: Junior sabotages Ben’s dates before LaWanda, one by phoning her Psycho Ex-Boyfriend, and another by getting her electrocuted. This ends up biting him in the butt later when LaWanda shows up.
  • Large Ham: LaWanda all the way. A man-eater and a scenery-chewer!
  • Loud Gulp: Ben Healy gives one of these when asking Nurse Annie on a date out of nervousness.
  • Loud Sleeper Gag: Junior is forced to share his bunk bed with his step-grandad, Big Ben, whom not only is an obnoxious Jerkass, but snores very loudly. Junior first puts a sock into Big Ben's mouth, but the old man gags, spits it and starts snoring even louder. Junior then pulls his blanket, making him fall down.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Junior tried to avert the wedding of his father and LaWanda by having her get plastic surgery to get the world's biggest nose on the day of the wedding. LaWanda woke up and discovered her new nose. Then, just a few hours later, she reappeared with her original nose and she said that she had some "last-minute double-overtime plastic surgery". So, she had two surgeries, on the same body part, in the same day, with no scars.
  • Make a Wish: The purpose of the Love Rock. Subverted when Trixie just fulfills the wish herself.
  • Mustache Vandalism: Junior, a little jealous of the attention his adoptive father is giving Annie Young, decides to deface her picture in this way. He's found by Trixie, her daughter (though he doesn't know it at that point) who is equal to him in being bad, who sternly warns him "I wouldn't do that if I were you." When Junior doesn't listen, Trixie floors him, says "Next time, you'll listen to me," and then draws a mustache on him with his own marker.
  • Mugging the Monster: In the opening scenes, as Junior and Ben drive into town, Junior uses a slingshot to pop a little girl's balloon, and lets out an Evil Laugh as they drive away. Unfortunately, that little girl was Trixie, and she'd make him pay dearly for that.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Subverted in the beginning when Junior calls out Little Ben's reminiscing of Cold River.
    Little Ben: "I used to have a lot of fond memories of this place."
    Junior: "Fond memories? What are you talking about? Everybody hated you! Your father, your wife, those horrible neighbors!"
    Little Ben: "You're right. Let's blow this joint!"
  • Not Me This Time: During a puppet show at the school, things suddenly take an insulting turn. Ben is certain Junior's behind it and storms the stage while yelling, but he discovers it was actually Trixie. Then he sees that Junior was sitting in the front row the entire time and just enjoying the show.
  • Off to Boarding School: "Whether you like it or not, I am going to marry your daddy. And when I do, you will be on the first plane to boarding school — in Baghdad!"
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Junior when he can't unfreeze Big Ben's dog. Nippy only gets unfrozen with the introduction of a new dog food called "Chow Down".
    • Trixie when her mother starts yelling at her for her stunt during the puppet show.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Trixie disrupts the wedding by using a bulldozer to move the Love Rock.
    Annie: Oh, how many times have I told you not to operate heavy machinery?
  • Parent with New Paramour: Junior actively resists any single women expressing interest in Ben, particularly LaWanda. (As noted above, his earlier stunts against the other women cause his very legitimate complaints about LaWanda to fall on deaf ears.) Trixie admits she's the same way with guys that approach Annie. The kids team up to get Ben and Annie together on the grounds that both are generally nice to them.
  • Persona Non Grata: For causing the massive food fight, Ben, Junior, Annie, and Trixie are banned for life from Pizzariffic. Ben snarks that's not nearly as severe as the waiter is trying to make it out to be.
  • The Scream: Principal Peabody lets one out upon seeing Junior enter his office.
  • Senseless Phagia: Two examples:
    • Junior urinates into a pitcher of lemonade and passes it off to an unsuspecting bystander.
    • Junior sets loose a cockroach army into his family’s dinner.
  • Shipper with an Agenda:
    • Big Ben is pressuring his son to marry LaWanda so they can live off her money. He doesn't care when Ben realizes who he actually loves since the marriage could get them rich.
    • To prevent the marriage, Junior tries to set up Ben and Annie. In his defense, Annie is actually a nicer person, and Trixie's mother.
  • Skewed Priorities: While looking for their missing kids, Ben apologizes to Annie for Junior dragging Trixie into any trouble. Annie insists that Trixie causes plenty of trouble herself, leading to an arguement over who the bigger problem child is. They both soon lampshade how this is a very silly thing to argue about, especially at a time like this.
  • Sleep Cute: Junior and Trixie, at the foot of the Love Rock.
  • Speak in Unison: The twins Dolly and Madison speak like this, with a few exceptions when only one of them talks.
  • Squashed Flat: Subverted. The Love Rock rolls over LaWanda and seemingly flattens her, but she was merely pushed into the ground and the only injuries she suffers are to her pride.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: After the Vomit Chain Reaction resulting from the Crazy Dance going out of control, the machinery begins to smoke before breaking down in a spectacular shower of sparks and explosions. All in a day's work for Junior.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Both families go there and a Food Fight breaks out.
  • Toilet Humor: The scene where a teacher rushes through the hall to the bathroom to take a dump, and it just so happens Junior just flushed Trixie's M80 down the drain.
  • Too Dumb to Live: LaWanda tries pulling a You Shall Not Pass! on a rolling boulder and gets crushed. She only survives by sheer luck.
  • Villainous Breakdown: "Oh... Oh... I'M PINOCCHIOOOOOOOOO!"
    • Her real breakdown comes later when Trixie crashes the wedding with a backhoe carrying the Love Rock, which is when the mask concealing her Child Hater nature finally slips.
      LaWanda: I hate children! They've ruined everything! If I had enough power...I'd wipe them off the face of the earth! [Ben looks disgusted behind her]
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: The Crazy Dance sequence combines this with Covered in Gunge.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Crazy Dance incident turns this up to eleven. (You should have a strong stomach for that scene.)
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Invoked by Trixie when she hijacks the puppet show. (The bald eagle puppet: "I had to scratch my balls!")
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: One of Ben's dates, Emily, gets electrocuted when Junior rewires the doorbell to Ben's house. When Ben answers the door, Emily's hair is standing straight up, she's giving off sparks, smoke is coming out of her mouth and her dress is in shreds. She manages to stammer out an apology, turns around, and then falls face first onto the front walkway of the house seconds after Ben closes the door. At no time does Ben appear to realize Emily is in need of medical attention, and nothing is ever said about what happened to her after she collapsed in Ben's front yard, or even if she survived.
  • Win-Win Ending: Everybody pretty much gets exactly what they wanted or needed in the end: Ben and Annie hook up, Junior and Trixie are best pals (and maybe even step-siblings, eventually), LaWanda finds herself a more suitable new hubby in Big Ben, and Big Ben gets a sugar mama to punch his Meal Ticket.
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: During the fair scene, Junior tries to get on the Crazy Dance ride, but is told that he has to be as tall as the tentacle, which he just barely isn't ("But it's only a millimeter!"). To add insult to injury, Trixie, who's much shorter then him, manages to get in by putting on platform shoes.

    Problem Child 3 
  • Ambiguously Gay: Corky. And if that wasn't enough, the actor who played him, Blake Mciver Ewing, later came out as gay!
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Dr. Peabody's nurse, Kiki, who seems to get just as much enjoyment from torturing patients as he does.
  • Brats with Slingshots: Junior uses his on a horse that Corky is riding. The horse goes bananas when it gets hit, rearing and dumping its rider fully-clothed into the pool.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Corky is so popular that his face is on the Krazy Krunch cereal box. His commercial states that said cereal has twice the sugar the other brands do.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: The Scoutmaster (he even calls his own son a sissy boy).
  • Evil Counterpart: Tiffany to Sarah as both Junior and Ben respectively try to win their affections throughout the movie. However, Tiffany's true nature isn't what Junior imagined whereas Sarah is genuinely nice.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Junior drives Dr. Peabody and his bombshell nurse insane by poisoning them with their own nitrous oxide (i.e., "laughing gas") and then tying both of them up in braces and dental floss. He even hung Peabody by the braces on the (moving!) ceiling fan!
  • Inkblot Test: After Junior and Ben get in a car accident, because Junior didn't want to see a shrink, he undergoes this test to prove that he's perfectly normal.
  • The Jeeves: Corky, of course, has one of these, named Rupert. Although, he listens to Corky and actus “nice”, it’s quite obvious that deep down, he has little to no respect for the kid. And who could blame him?
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Many.
    • Blade getting beaten in his hockey game after his team brutally beat Junior earlier in the film.
    • Duke and Phlim throughout the race.
    • Tiffany getting stripped.
  • Lighter and Softer: This film is a bit softer on the violence and language compared to the original two.
  • Karma Houdini: Junior. Sure, Duke, Corky and Blade were mean to him, but the way he dealt with them was pretty violent and brutal; especially with Corky. Motivation? Jealousy about the girl!
    • With Corky, it is particularly played straight. Duke and Blade were actual bullies who harmed Junior physically multiple times. Corky, while not the nicest kid, never actually harmed Junior yet he was probably injured the most seriously. And what happens to Junior after that? Eats ice-cream with his dad! Perhaps one could argue Tiffany being a bitch was his comeuppance, but even then he seemed pretty content with it, even pranking her when he finds out.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: Unlike the previous films, this one was made for television.
  • Naked People Are Funny: When Tiffany's dress is ripped off. Lampshaded by Junior when he throws in this remark:
    Junior: "Hey Tiffany, you forgot your dress."
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Tiffany; see "Shaggy Dog" Story.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Corky McCullum is a parody of Macaulay Culkin.
  • No Indoor Voice: Aside from Dr. Peabody, Duke and his father seem to have this.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Both Duke and his father Eugebe have little respect for women, especially how Eugene is very possessive about Sarah and is willing to hurt Ben over her, and treats her as a “prize”. And the way he mentions Duke’s mother, it’s pretty obvious he didn’t treat her well. Like Father, Like Son indeed.
    • And Big Ben continues being one like in first two movies.
    • And Corky also displays this. He is a rich spoiled kid and clearly looks down upon people of lower class status, especially the way he treats Rupert. And once when he says to Rupert “English”, implies he also looks down upon non-Americans.
  • Rearing Horse: When it gets hit in the flank with Junior's slingshot, Corky's horse ends up in this stance, throwing its rider into the air and into the drink.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The whole film sees Junior's effort to gain the attention of a love interest and competing with three bullies to do it. After he finally overcomes the opposition, he finds that said girl is a snooty control freak. But it works out in the end as he meets a much nicer girl shortly after.
  • Shout-Out: Dr. Peabody is wearing, of all things, a Watchmen smiley-face-with-bloodstain button on his coat, though the blood looks slightly different in that it is covering the left eye instead of above it.
  • So Long, Suckers!: Junior's last line of the whole franchise here.
  • Tunnel King: Big Ben digs his way out from a closet to the front yard.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Annie and Trixie from 2 are neither seen or mentioned (by name) in this one.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Junior explains everything about his new life, drawing style.


Igor Peabody

Becoming principal because you hate kids? Alright...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / ChildHater

Media sources: