Problem Child (1990) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The story of a seven-year-old mischievous orphan boy named Junior. He is hardly a model child; mean-spirited and incorrigible. One day, he is adopted by a loving man along with his obnoxious wife named Ben Healy and Flo Healy. Ever since Junior comes into their lives, he turns ordinary days into full-scale comic nightmares! He also leaves a path of serious destruction in his wake, and is even pen pals with Martin Beck (A.K.A. The Bow Tie Killer, a notorious serial killer who kidnaps his faithful correspondent, along with Flo). And now it's up to Ben as he undertakes a rescue mission to get Junior back from Beck before he plans on hurting him.

  • The seven-year-old orphan Junior has been rejected thirty times by his foster parents since he was a baby because he is wicked. He worships the criminal Martin Beck and wears a a bow tie just like his idol. Ben is a good affectionate man that dreams on being a father. However his flashy wife Flo is infertile and he convinces her to adopt a child. The couple is lured by Mr. Peabody that manages an orphanage and they adopt the little devil Junior. When Ben's father Big Ben meets the boy, he immediately tells that Junior is evil. Soon Ben learns that his father is correct; will he call off the adoption?

  • Meet Ben and Flo Healy! They want a young child of their own, but Flo is incapable of having a child herself. Enter Junior, a little monster who has been to foster parents' homes since he was a baby and always made himself get thrown out so one day he goes to the orphanage and causes trouble for the poor nuns (although some of them deserved it). So Ben and Flo go to adopt a child and the administrator, Peabody, cons them into taking Junior off their hands. Junior goes home with the Healys to a nice house which includes a bedroom full of clowns! Ben takes an immediate love to his son, no matter what the horrible things he does, even though he injured his grandfather, a bigoted politician, really turned a birthday party into a "blast", sicks a bear onto campers on a camping trip, and even goes on a joyride with convicted killer Martin Beck!

  • A young boy is just short of a monster. He is adopted by a loving man and his wacky wife. The laughs keep coming as the boy pushes them to the limits.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Junior Healy (Michael Oliver) is not accepted by any parents because of his bad behavior. When the latest stunt involving destroying his trailer park home with a bulldozer, he is sent to the local orphanage where he continues his terror on the other kids and even the nuns. He also idolizes a notorious serial killer Martin Beck (Michael Richards) after seeing him on the local news being sent to prison for his latest stunt. At the same time, a childless couple, Ben (John Ritter) and Flo (Amy Yasbeck) Healy are frustrated that they cannot have a kid because of Flo's uterus and she refuses to even think about adoption. Ben has problems of his own because he has worked for his blowhard father, Big Ben Healy (Jack Warden), a sporting goods store conglomerate, as well as future mayor of the town of Cold River, for 10 years and stubbornly refused any raises or promotions. One day, he announces to Ben that he sold the store to a Japanese corporation and decides not to give Ben the property.

    Meanwhile, at the orphanage, Junior's behavior comes to a boiling point between the nuns and smarmy adoption agent Mr. Igor Peabody (Gilbert Gottfried). They threaten to leave the orphanage altogether, unless Junior is released, much to his delight. Flo eventually warms up to the idea and she and Ben decide to adopt him. When they invite Big Ben to the house to meet Junior, they see that he set his new bedroom on fire and when Big Ben badmouths him as they leave. Junior throws Fuzzball, the family cat on Big Ben and he falls down the stairs. He is sent to the hospital in an ambulance while Fuzzball suffers a couple broken legs.

    In prison, Beck is in a therapist's office undergoing a examination. Also present is the warden, who is subsequently ushered out of the room by the doctor after interrupting one too many times, but shortly after, while looking at an inkblot, Beck snaps and strangles the doctor. He escapes from prison by stealing his clothes, car, and even posing as him to a guard as he drives away. One night, Junior is caught by Ben rummaging through the drawers in the living room. They both admit that they're scared being a family, at first, but they are determined to make it work. The next day, they go for a weekend camping trip with another neighborhood family, the Whites, led by Roy (Peter Jurasik), Ben's seemingly so-called friend as they both coach rival little-league teams. That night, Junior plays a prank on the kids by luring a bear into their camping site and soon they mistake Roy, also dressed up as a bear, for the real thing. Ben smashes a frying pan on Roy's head, bot realizing it is him.

    When the Healys are invited to a birthday party, later, Junior gets revenge on the spoiled birthday girl for not inviting him to the magic show by throwing all the presents in the pool, replacing candy with canned pickles and peppers in the pinata and using firecrackers on the cake instead of candles. At this point, Ben realizes he will have to start laying down the law with Junior by taking away his allowance, but it seems Junior has not learned his lesson when he turns the annual Founder's day baseball game into a baseball bat melee. A fed-up Ben and Flo decide to take him back to the orphanage, but when they find out how many times he has been returned by other parents, Ben decides they should keep him, much to Flo's dismay, but Junior feels they do not want him and drives their car into Big Ben's store, destroying thousands of dollars of merchandise. He later receives a phone call from the bank stating that his father had to clean out his entire bank account to pay off the damages. Now crazed, Ben attempts to smother a napping Junior with a pillow until Beck shows up, claiming he is Junior's uncle. Flo thinks they should play along into thinking Junior is a good kid, but the next day Ben discovers that Beck has kidnapped her and Junior and is given until this afternoon to pay the $100,000 ransom. He streaks over to his father's store, who is in the process of making a live television appearance for the election. Big Ben refuses to pay his son the money, stating that both Flo and Junior's kidnapping was the best thing that happened to him as his father hates them both. To get revenge, Ben turns on the video camera as Ben rambles on about how he does not care about the voters or publicity and then moons the camera, causing him to lose the election.

    With the 100 grand in a duffel bag, Ben races to the circus where Beck is waiting. A wild chase ensues after Beck decides to both keep the money and Junior and eventually a car chase that ends when Beck's car overturns and Flo, who is stuffed into a suitcase, is catapulted into the air and lands in a farm truck with pigs. When the police arrive, a scuffle occurs between Beck and the arresting officers and he shoots Ben with one of the cops' guns. Thinking Ben has perished, Junior promises him he will be good from now on, Ben eventually wakes up and discovers the bullet when through a hardened prune that his grandfather gave him. The two happily walk away as Beck is hauled away by the cops. Before the credits, Flo opens the suitcase into the view of a pig's buttocks and flatulates at her.

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