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Published June 07, 2008

As summertime revs up, people have been clamoring for Merchandise to finally take a break from entertaining the youth of America with cat puppet shows and step up to the streets, dance and then kindly recommend something to watch inside

It’s getting altogether too pleasant outside so Katy bar the door, close the blinds and fire up the ol’ VHS player.  It is time for… THE Trilogy. 

Yes, all three movies of the Problem Child franchise.

Problem Child
Problem Child 2
Problem Child 3: Junior in Love

It’s no coincidence that the first Problem Child came into our collective consciousness as the Cold War was ending.  The United States had a “problem child” of our own in the Soviet Union.

Many wondered after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 if the Cold War was really over.  As usual, it fell to the world of art to put a period at the end of the long paragraph that was the CCCP.  Duty called for the savants/creators of Problem Child to help us turn the page.  We were given meaning in the story of an adopted orphan that wreaks havoc wherever he goes.  We were supplicated by the saga of a “brow-beaten yuppie” and his search for spiritual completion, only to be saddled with a mean-spirited, incorrigible and literally redheaded stepchild.  It told our nation that we must “adopt” Boris Yeltsin and his cohorts, no matter how often they got into unbelievable situations.  In short, democracy could exhale.

And then the gift kept on giving with Problem Child 2.  Luckily, we only had to wait a year for this sequel in which a second inveterate child was given forth for the world to intellectually dismantle.  Alas, Problem Child 2 was only a mezzo-mezzo affair as it lacked the overall historical significance of the first.  This disappointment was grappled with for years as Americans were left to wonder aloud, “Where’s the beef Problem Child franchise makers?  Where’s the beef?” 

Luckily, the beef was found, savored and then quickly devoured in 1995.  Again, the bat of artistic expression met the ball of antiquity with Problem Child 3: Junior in Love.

If a movie is to be truly successful on all fronts, it must hold up a mirror to society at large.  Problem Child 3: Junior in Love accomplished this goal by functioning mainly as a disguised deconstruction of the Croatian battle against Serbian forces in Krajina (with, don’t forget, the full cooperation of ARBiH or Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovena).

Now, some in the Problem Child Franchise Fan Community (PCFFC) have disagreed with this assessment, calling it an “utterly elitist elucidation.”  They’d have you know that Problem Child 3: Junior in Love was really a simple love story based on the Julia Roberts, Lyle Lovett nuptials.  Well, “Phooey” to that simplistic underestimation.  If we are to use common sense, then Problem Child 3: Junior in Love is clearly and unequivocally a reflection of Croatia’s own “problem child”, Serbia (with the Serb capital of Banja Luka standing in for Dr. Peabody, played by Gilbert Gottfried).

NOTE:  Although Problem Child 3: Junior in Love is not considered canonical by the purists, it can be seen as a rightful continuation of the heady ambition of the original Problem Child, therefore rendering it canonical in the truest sense of the word.

So, go ahead, treat yourself with “The Tantrum Pack.”  Spend a summer day reliving art imitating life imitating art imitating… I’m not sure which one to end that on.  Which should tell you something about what you’re getting yourself into.  You’re getting yourself into greatness, my friends.  Greatness.

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