Time: the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. Father's Day is coming up this weekend, which means many dads will be unwrapping amazing gifts like $5 ties and macaroni art (if they're lucky). Of course, the greatest Father's Day gift of all is simply to spend time with their children, is it not? Your own creations gazing up at you in awe and admiration with their precious faces. Nothing beats quality time with the kids, unless your son is Junior Healy from PROBLEM CHILD. Or even worse, that wretched little shit from the sequel, Trixie Young, also known as Ivyann Schwan.
Well, isn't that just the most punchable little face you've ever laid eyes on? She looks like the first 7-year-old on her block to deal meth and carry around a switchblade. It's like Courtney Love and Jonathan Banks had a baby. Okay, so I believe it was Movie Fan Central user Scorpio77 who recommended Ivyann Schwan as a "Then & Now" candidate several months back. I'm just getting around to it now, because frankly, I was trying to prolong having to look at her stupid face.
Right back at ya', buddy.
Schwan also doesn't have a very extensive filmography per se. The only movie she appeared in, other than the obvious, was the Steve Martin comedy PARENTHOOD (1989). Ironically, her character in that film (Patty Huffner) is polite and brilliant, although socially awkward because she was home-schooled (by Rick Moranis nonetheless). Ivyann's role in that film was small, but she provided enough laughs to get the attention of some Hollywood producers. To this day, I still wonder what the hell they were snorting before they decided to cast Ivyann in her next, and final role...
I never quite understood why the original PROBLEM CHILD movie has a score of 4% on RottenTomatoes.com, while its sequel holds a score of 8%. Seems unjust, at the very least. I actually enjoyed the first PROBLEM CHILD. Sure, it's absurd, crude, teaches kids to do very bad things, but burried beneath all the chaos there's a message about being yourself, no matter who doesn't like it. Okay, maybe if you hospitalize a team of little leaguers, lure a hungry bear to a campsite filled with kids, and drive a car straight into a sporting goods store, you may need an attitude adjustment. I could go on about that movie itself for a while. Actually, I already have gone over it in Amy Yasbeck's "Then & Now" column.
Alright, moving on... I didn't mean to put first film up on a pedestal, but it's a Spielberg masterpiece compared to PROBLEM CHILD 2 (1992), one of the fastest-made sequels in history. It begins right where the first one left off: Ben Healy (John Ritter) and Junior (Michael Oliver) are heading back home from their big carnival escapade with Michael Richards, when they decide "everyone in our hometown sucks, so hey! Let's move to Mortville, Oregon!", a peacful city that doubles as the divorcee capital of the state. Most of the movie revolves around Junior's jealousy of his father's various flings with the women in the town, because he wants to spend some time playing catch with his dad. So he handles it with completely normal techniques, like calling their ex-husbands, publically humiliating them, and my favorite, electricution. However this is all TV-G stuff until we're introduced to this rollerskating, balloon-carrying c*nt.
Yeah, I said it.
I once went on a rant about how Pippi Longstocking was the most relentlessly evil child to ever exist. That still may be true, but at least it was all due to her ignorance and being raised by a pirate. Trixie from PROBLEM CHILD 2 is the daughter of Annie Young, a beautiful, friendly nurse (played by Amy Yasbeck), and is still a conniving, deceitful little disease. Some kids play with matches, some kids play with fireworks, but Trixie flushed a goddamn M-80 down her elementary school toilet and blew up the principal's asshole. That's just one of the many things from this movie that would not fly in today's Hollywood. Even with a PG-13 rating, I'm surprised they got away with Junior delivering lines like "no shit, Sherlock" and "the bitch must die!". Not to mention all the adult themes and boobs scattered throughout.
The most unsettling part of all is, with all the twisted adult themes throughout, PROBLEM CHILD 2 looks like it was designed to make an impression on young children. The script is fast-paced, every shot is extremely colorful, and the payoff of Junior and Trixie's violent antics often results in something from a Tex Avery cartoon. Perhaps the budget was too low for them to afford the buckets of fake blood necessary for realism, but they sure could afford fake vomit. Lots and lots of vomit. Fake dog feces, too. It's like a combination of horror movies disguised as a '90's cereal commercial for kids. Even those creepy-as-f*ck twins from THE SHINING make an appearance.
I liked the last pair of twins better.
Here's an amusing anecdote: On the set of PROBLEM CHILD 2, Ivyann Schwan entered a bathroom during the filming of a scene. Earlier she had been told to immediately come out of the bathroom, and continue her run.. but she never left the bathroom this time, leaving the crew and cast waiting... and waiting. The director called her name. No answer. He called again. Again no answer. As soon as everyone was ready to walk in, they heard a small voice - slightly irritated - return that earlier call. 'Hey I'm on the potty', she exclaimed (IMDB).
Picture taken directly after. (Too far? Too far).
PROBLEM CHILD 2 didn't make quite as big an impact as its predecessor, but it did get the ball rolling on the romantic chemistry between John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck. These two were one of my favorite Hollywood couples in history, just because of their grand sense of humor and their ability to have a good time. I think you'd need those qualities if you're working on a project as zany as this.
Obviously, and as I mentioned above, Ivyann's acting career ended rather quickly after PROBLEM CHILD 2. She made a quick appearance on the show that got me past the 3rd grade, "Bill Nye the Science Guy" in 1993, and that was about it. Clearly this is because once Ivyann grew out of her "cute with an attitude" phase, Hollywood execs no longer had interest. She was just a former child star waiting to happen. By the time 2000 came along, Ivyann probably started to resemble the genetical splice of Shrek and Pumba. And you know what? I'm glad. Let's all point and laugh at her now, shall we?
Awww.... shucks. She doesn't look bad... At all, actually. Why is it that every young actress I loathed as a kid, I wind up wanting to shack up with as an adult? First it's Pippi, then Cindy Lou f*ckin' Who, and now it's the girl who barfed all over the Crazy Dance ride. As you all know, we lost John Ritter in 2003 from an aortic dissection, which was caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Amy Yasbeck later started the John Ritter Foundation to promote knowledge of aortic aneurysm and dissection through research and education. Late last year, Yasbeck called members of the original PROBLEM CHILD cast for a reunion photoshoot to raise awareness of the foundation. That's where the pic above is from, as well as the ones below.
As you can see, Amy Yasbeck ain't looking so shabby herself. As for what exactly Ivyann Schwan has been up to lately, I honestly have but a damned clue. Seems to have picked up on the fact that her 15 minutes of fame sort of garnered a cult following over the recent years, so she occasionally keeps her fans up to speed on her Facebook page. Other than that, she seems to keep a pretty low profile. There was supposedly talk of her getting involved with the porn industry, but as far as I can tell, that rumor is complete bullshit. Although, it looks like Michael Oliver might've directed a few...
... from your bushes.
And if you're wondering what happened to those creepy-ass twins, Tiffany and Krystle Mataras, well, here they are...
I'd come play with them.
Ivyann Schwan was the greatest actress of her generation. She got snubbed at the Oscars in 1989 for her chilling work in PARENTHOOD, and then snubbed again in 1991 after picking us up by our feet and shaking us around with her tremendous acting skills in PROBLEM CHILD 2. Am I being sarcastic? NooOOOooo. In any case, I'm glad Ivyann appears to be doing well, and if she ever chose to get back into the hectic world of filmmaking, I'd say it's entirely possible. And if not, you know, I hear porn pays pretty well. Thanks to Scorpio77 for the suggestion, and happy Father's Day, everyone!