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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Comedy meant to entertain rather than educate.
Ultimately the takeaway is positive about neighbors caring for each other, the importance of family, and the value of friends helping you stay true to yourself, but they're not emphasized very strongly. Sexist and old-fashioned messages are repeated often, like girls are gross (except Gina), and that girls and women need to manipulate to get boys and men to do what they want, and that aging is bad and it's better to be young. One of the kids says that half the fun of having a club is keeping other people out.
Positive Role Models
Dennis is a good kid at heart who's usually trying to be helpful, kind, and thoughtful but who accidentally causes chaos and destruction no matter what he's trying to do. His friends Gina, Joey, and Gunther are loyal and determined to help him. Mr. Wilson is gruff, grouchy, and gullible, but deep down he's genuinely fond of Dennis. All other characters are cartoonish caricatures, especially the villains and Margaret. The villains, both White, wear many disguises, and one uses brown face and a terrible accent pretending to be from South Asia.
Violence & Scariness
A punch in the arm. Some cartoonish, slapstick physical comedy like falling down stairs, belly flops, and being hit in the backside with a dart have yelling and groaning, but no injuries are shown and everyone's fine. A scene with fake doctors conducting a physical exam is dark, has scary sounds, and distorted and startling images.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some romantic dynamics from Margaret, who talks about marrying Dennis someday and uses exaggerated femininity to try and manipulate him.
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"Hell," "poo-poo brain," "poop-head," and "shut up."
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Products & Purchases
Part of a franchise based on the Dennis the Menace newspaper comic. Oreos mentioned as Dennis's favorite cookie.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Dennis's father is frequently seen with a pipe, either holding it, or putting it in or taking it out of his mouth. No smoke comes from the pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dennis the Menace Strikes Again! is a slapstick comedy from 1998 based on the newspaper comic franchise. There's some body-part humor like a closeup looking up someone's nose and getting hit in the backside with darts. One kid punches another in the arm. A few potty insults like "poo-poo head," and one use of "hell." Dennis's father frequently has a pipe, but no smoke comes out of it. Stereotyping messages abound: girls are gross, the super-feminine Margaret openly wants to manipulate Dennis into liking her, and that getting old is bad. Worst of all, the White villains wear many disguises, and one puts on brown face and uses a terrible accent pretending to be from South Asia. A scene with fake doctors conducting a physical exam is dark, has scary sounds, and distorted and startling images. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's a nugget of a fairly entertaining family movie in here, somewhere, but there are just too many shortcomings to make it enjoyable to viewers outside of the target age group. Dennis the Menace Strikes Again! has all the pratfalls, potty and body-part humor, giant bugs, belly flops, and ooey-gooey messes that kids will find hilarious. And there's a little bit of heart in this version of Dennis as a good, friendly kid who's trying to be helpful but who always manages to cause chaos and destruction by accident. The kids in the cast are pretty cute, but except for a very young Alexa Vega as a standout, they aren't yet very strong actors.
Unfortunately, it's also got more than enough cliches and stereotypes, even a cringe-worthy White actor in brown face, to drive older viewers away. They may also be put off by a 7-year-old character using her "feminine wiles" to catch her (also 7-year-old) man. Little kids may be confused by the subplot with the con men, and possibly a little frightened by the scary "doctors' exam" scene.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.