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.