Dennis the Menace Movie Poster Image

Dennis the Menace



Contrived movie is not true to its origins.
  • Review Date: June 25, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

All the female characters wear dresses only. Margaret is obsessed by girlish things, such as turning the boys' fort into a house with curtains. Some bathroom humor and mean-spirited gags.

Violence & scariness

When Christopher Lloyd takes his lumps, the result is a bloody, swollen face. Dennis is kidnapped by a hobo.

Sexy stuff

Dennis and his pals discuss how babies get into a mother's stomach (the mother's belly button opens up so the baby can enter). Dennis tells Mrs. Wilson how his parents "wrestle" on Sunday mornings, by themselves and with their shirts off.


Mr. Wilson says the initials "G-D" out loud when he's really upset.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although the hero is 5, this movie comes with caveats for those who are squeamish or easily scared. Also, parents should know that the contrived story is unnecessarily sinister, neither true to its comic-strip origins nor suitably updated.

What's the story?

In DENNIS THE MANACE, 5-year-old Dennis is on summer vacation from school. After various babysitters find him too challenging, Dennis' parents turn to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson to watch their difficult child.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between Dennis and Mr. Wilson. Why can't they get along? How do you get along with someone who is difficult?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 25, 1993
DVD release date:October 2, 2002
Cast:Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Walter Matthau
Director:Nick Castle
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:comedic mischief

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byC77 June 16, 2012

A little racier than you would think

Mr.Wilson at one point says "where's the GD lamps", referring to the explenative. Dennis' babysitter is making out with her boyfriend on the couch. Not exremely vulgar, but more than you would think with noises and sighs. Other than that, it is a cute movie.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old October 1, 2009

everyone should see it

I loved this movie i cracked up thru the whole thing i think it is great for all ages and everyone should see it
Teen, 16 years old Written byUSCTrojan June 30, 2012


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