With slingshot, marbles, wagon, and dog Ruff in tow, DENNIS THE MENACE is a disaster waiting to happen, and he is headed for his favorite next-door neighbor, George Wilson. Walter Matthau is literally on the defensive as the cranky old Mr. Wilson, running for his life from the baby-toothed, tow-headed “Menace,” brought to inexhaustible life by newcomer Mason Gamble. Although a bit spoiled and undisciplined, Dennis is a lovable little rascal who sets out to explore and conquer his summertime surroundings while his mom is off at work. Mr. Wilson usually ends up paying the price for Dennis’ out-of-control curiosity and quest for new knowledge. He even brings a few consequences on himself as he foolishly attempts to stay a step ahead of “the Menace.” Things aren’t improving when Switchblade Sam (Christopher Lloyd) arrives in town looking for trouble of his own. However, he doesn’t know what trouble is until he meets Dennis. It takes near tragedy to show Mr. Wilson that even though Dennis drives him crazy, he gives him a reason for living.
DENNIS THE MENACE is a harmless, entertaining, fun summer treat for children of all ages. The film portrays a way of life where children are still allowed to be children, happy and safe, neighbors look out for each other, and people and relationships are valued and important. Christopher Lloyd is great as the nasty villain and Joan Plowright (Mrs. Wilson) is anyone’s dream of a grandmother.
(B, C, V, M) A biblical worldview complete with biblical principles, neighbors helping each other, families intact & functional & respect for authority, friendship & responsibility. The film is marred by mild, slapstick violence (tacks in fingers, people falling down, but nothing serious) & a little rowdiness (at one point, little Margaret asks Joey to close his eyes & she fools him into kissing a doll's behind); and, one character smokes & steals, but answers for his crimes.