Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
Dennis the Menace
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Instead of painting Mr. Wilson as a meanie in this unexceptional movie, director Nick Castle makes him more complex -- the frustrated victim of Dennis's childish literal-mindedness. Matthau brings lovable grouchiness and wince-inducing pratfalls to the role, setting the stage for Dennis and Mr. Wilson's inevitable reconciliation. A 4-year-old was puzzled by the sometimes good, sometimes bad behavior of Dennis and Mr. Wilson. For her, the most easily understood character was the menacing Christopher Lloyd, a sinister scene-stealing presence. Despite the violence, the 4-year-old liked his scenes best, because she could cheer for Dennis and hiss at his enemy without feeling confused.
A 7-year-old relished this depth of characterization, and watched Dennis with a knowing smile, shaking her head over his innocence and wrong-headedness. The set-up and delivery of jokes are geared to this age group: Dennis helpfully refills a nosedrop bottle with mouthwash, and refills a mouthwash bottle with bathroom cleaner. Enter Mr. Wilson, who uses his nosedrops and mouthwash before bedtime. Older children will delight in every spill Mr. Wilson takes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.