Dennis the Menace started off as a comic strip in the 1950s by Hank Ketcha. Since a kid, I was always looked forward to the weekend newspaper my Dad will buy so I can find the comic strip section and read my selected favorites--which included Dennis the Menace. In the 80s I also tuned in to the comic strip turned cartoon and to me, the series was so-so as I wasn't into as much as the other cartoons running in that time. Then in 1993 Dennis the Menace is turned into a movie script. When anything goes from TV to movie or in this case, comic to movie, there are a lot of expectations as fans want a film that will stay true to the original in form of main characters, stories, setting, etc.
I didn't see Dennis the Menace at the theatres but got the chance to view it on TV and later on DVD I'd rented. As expected, Dennis is quite the character and you sometimes wonder, will poor Mr. Wilson ever get a break?
In a small quiet town, a small bicycle interrupts the silence with its little red wagon in tow, completed with noisy tin cans trailing behind. With his little dog Rusty by his side, he stops at his next door neighbor's house and yells, ‘MR. WILSON!' The kid in question is no other than five year old Dennis Mitchell. On the outside this cute blonde haired child is just simply adorable and innocent that it will never crosses anyone's mind that he could do no wrong. Of course with the exception of Mr. Wilson, the grumpy old neighbor who finds Dennis to be the most annoying little brat he ever seen.
Meanwhile Alice and Henry Mitchell, Dennis' parents is leaving town for business and in need of someone to baby-sit their son as soon as possible. It seems that most of the neighbors agree with Mr. Wilson about Dennis as they too had bad experiences with him. Their only hope is the Wilson's' and only Mrs. Wilson would welcome Dennis in their home with open arms. Bur Mr. Wilson isn't too happy about that.
Dennis enjoys spending his time with his dear ‘friend' but Mr. Wilson doesn't feel the same as one incident after another happens to the poor old man-- from Dennis shooting an aspirin to his mouth with a slingshot to his two front false teeth being replaced with Chiclets. The final straw came when Mr. Wilson took a picture with his best smile and he turns out looking like Bugs Bunny.
Mr. Wilson had it and boldly tells Dennis he doesn't want the kid around and to stay out of his life. Hurt and shocked by the rejection, Dennis runs and away and bumps into the town's crook, Switchblade Sam. Switchblade stolen some valuable coins from the Wilson's home; although Dennis isn't aware of it but Sam's time with the kid will be lead to some very interesting series of events.
Character/Actor- Mason Gable did quite well pulling off as Dennis Mitchell starring as the cute little boy most adores to a disaster waiting to happen. He kept Mr. Wilson on his toes although in his mind, he means very well than what Mr. Wilson expected of him. However he can get too antsy in this film where I can understand where Mr. Wilson is coming from in terms of wanting privacy as Dennis can just get under your skin and snoop around once too many times. Nonetheless he is just like your average kid, but with a slight tendency to push the wrong buttons to his subject.
Lea Thompson and Robert Stanton come in as good supporting actors in the film as (the Mitchells). The problem sets in when they are a bit too lenient to what Dennis does and do very little to correct his ways whenever Mr. Wilson raises concern about their child. I got the impression that the parents really can't raise their son right and let him do what he wants without consequence. One scene says it all when every single neighbor in the block refuses to baby-sit the child as it shows whatever they are or not doing is going wrong. Instead of going on vacation, it would have best to take their child to the doctor and diagnose the child with ADHD.
Walther Matthau fitted Mr. Wilson to the T-- the grumpy look, voice, behavior and short-tempered when it comes to Dennis. This grump is the type that most kids will not exactly run towards as oppose to the calm and sweet Mrs. Wilson (Joan Plowright) but there is something 'interesting' about Mr. Wilson that pulls him in and want to be his pal but fails at many attempts.
Christopher Lloyd plays Switchblade Sam, a bad guy sneaking around town stealing a tot's apple and getting into places where he doesn't belong--Mr. Wilson's house. In my opinion, Switchblade Sam comes as a test to Dennis since he supposedly the big bad guy and more dangerous than ever. With the scenes with Dennis and Sam, the guy will prefer the comfort of jailbirds and never seeing the light of day again if he ever in the presence of Dennis.
Aside from nitpicking the characters, I'd enjoyed watching this film as it is filled with laughter and just goes to show everyone that there is never a dull moment with Dennis Mitchell. Wilson and Mitchell may be polar opposites but if wither one faces adversity; you can count on the two being there for one another. This movie is good to watch when having a family night with your children. But let them know, never to become a menace like Dennis.