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Dennis the Menace

One-sheet poster.
Directed by Nick Castle
Produced by John Hughes
Written by John Hughes
Starring Walter Matthau
Mason Gamble
Joan Plowright
Christopher Lloyd
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) June 25, 1993
Running time 94 minutes
Language English
Preceded by Dennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter
Followed by Dennis the Menace Strikes Again

Dennis the Menace (released in the United Kingdom as Dennis to avoid confusion with an identically-named character) is a 1993 live-action American family film based on the Hank Ketcham comic strip of the same name.

The film was directed by Nick Castle, written and produced by John Hughes, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, which released the film under its Family Entertainment banner. It concerns the misadventures of a mischievous child (Mason Gamble) with a cowlick and a grin who wreaks havoc on his next-door neighbor, Mr. Wilson (Walter Matthau), and usually helping out with his friends, Joey (Kellen Hathaway) and Margaret (Amy Sakasitz), and being followed everywhere by his dog, Ruff.

The film premiered on June 25, 1993. It is known simply as Dennis in the UK to avoid confusion with an unrelated British comic strip, also called "Dennis the Menace," which debuted in 1951.

A direct-to-video sequel called Dennis the Menace Strikes Again was also released. The film was followed by a Saturday morning cartoon series called The Incredible Dennis the Menace.

This is not the first live-action Dennis the Menace film. The first live-action film to feature Dennis was Dennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter, which premiered on TV in 1987. The film involved Dennis and his friends and his dog continuing their penchants for mischief until they discover a dinosaur skeleton, which Dennis dubs as the "Dennissaurus".

Contents

Plot

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Situation

Dennis Mitchell (Mason Gamble), a five-year-old boy living with his parents next to hot-tempered neighbor George Wilson (Walter Matthau), is out of school for the summer. With both his parents working, they are forced to have various people babysit him during the day. As the summer progresses, he becomes more and more notorious among babysitters for being more than a handful, and his flagrant unwillingness to be babysat by Mrs. Wade (parent of his female nemesis, Margaret (Amy Sakasitz), proves a difficult situation when both parents are forced to go on business trips for their respective companies. However, they are unable to find a babysitter tough enough to take care of Dennis for such a long while. So they move to their final resort - by asking George and his wife Martha (Joan Plowright) (who loves Dennis like a grandson).

Meanwhile, a shady drifter named Switchblade Sam (Christopher Lloyd), having recently jumped a train into the relatively crime-free neighborhood, begins a silent assault on the community, robbing houses, as well as striking fear into the children that see him. Due to the absence of crime in the area, barely anybody in the community locks their doors.

Turning point

Mr. Wilson, becoming a winner of the community's garden association, holds a party, inviting the elder community to witness the blooming of a rare flower, whose forty-year existence will, in the light of a full moon, produce only ten seconds of a flowered life before withering away. However, due to a storm, Dennis's mother is unable to make it back home in time to look after Dennis, forcing the Wilsons to have him around while the banquet is running. Several incidents, which include the overturning of the dinner table (simply because he was curious about the black button, which he soon discovered was one that opened the garage), end with Dennis being sent to spend the rest of the evening indoors. That very night, Switchblade Sam stealthily enters the Wilsons' home. As the party is located in the backyard garden, with the host and guests awaiting the flower's bloom, they are unaware that Switchblade Sam breaks in, locates a hidden locker in George's bookcase, and breaks the combination (which is George's address, a fact that even Dennis himself had earlier guessed at), stealing a small collection of extremely valuable gold coins. When Dennis discovers the crime, he quickly forces the party's attention away from the now fully-bloomed (and rapidly decaying) flower.

Climax

Furious that he had spent forty years planting and tending to the now-dead plant, only to have it be ignored, George quietly, but sternly informs the child how much he has grown to despise him. Distraught, Dennis secretly rides away on his tricycle into the forest, while the police arrive and investigate the scene. Soon afterwards, Mrs. Mitchell shows up, only to discover that Dennis is missing. Parts of the community voluntarily search for him, while George reflects on the things he has said to Dennis and feels intense guilt and remorse. Now knowing that his house had been burglarized and that Dennis had only good intentions, he assists in searching in places where Dennis would likely hide.

Dennis, however, has come across Switchblade Sam, who intends to use the child as a hostage. Dennis's insistence to talk drives the criminal irate, to the point where he ties him up- or attempts to, in any case. Dennis demonstrates his skill in tying up a person to the criminal, who is actually interested in learning this tip. The lesson goes awry, however, when Dennis also uses handcuffs on him, and accidentally drops the keys in a pot of cooking beans. Unable to get to the keys (which are accidentally devoured in an attempt to find them), the criminal's temper grows rawer still, as he is knocked out, burned, forced to jump in the river (onto a discarded refrigerator), shot in the forehead with a slingshot-launched Marble (toy), and eventually stabbed in the buttocks with his own switchblade.

Luckily, Dennis's ability with ropes proves useful in extracting the criminal from the shallows. It is at this point that Dennis comes across the collection of George Wilson's coins. Realizing that Sam is the burglar, he turns around just in time to face Sam, armed with the switchblade (and still tied around the waist with a rope coming from overhead, where a train approaches). Intent on killing the boy, he is stopped short when the oncoming train catches onto the rope, pulling him up to the roof of the underpass and squeezing the breath out of him in cartoon fashion, until the rope snaps and causes the man to fall. His switchblade remains imbedded in the underpass roof and a moment after Sam falls, the knife falls out and stabs Sam in the buttocks.

Ending

The next morning, George Wilson, who has spent the entire evening looking for Dennis, awakens on his front porch. Dennis rides down the street on his trike, pulling along a wagon upon which lies a near-unconscious Switchblade Sam. Dennis is greeted by the community, especially by George Wilson himself, and the burglar is taken into custody by a slightly amused sheriff. The movie ends as Dennis, his family, and Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are grilling out. While the adults are chatting, Dennis becomes curious with a marshmallow that is being burned. He begins to swing the marshmallow rapidly to put the flame out but instead causes it to fly off past everyone and hit Mr. Wilson in the head who in turn just stares with an awkward expression that he is not amused.

Credits

Production Crew

  • Nick Castle Director
  • Freddie Hice 2nd Unit Director
  • Ernest Chambers Executive Producer
  • John Swallow Executive Producer
  • John Hughes Screenplay, Producer
  • Richard Vane Producer
  • William Ryan Associate Producer
  • Sharon Kaczala Assistant Production Secretary
  • Patty Willett Assistant Production Secretary
  • Lisa Ladek-Benoit Assistant Production Secretary

Cast

This film marks the fifth time that Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd have been in the same film.

Cameos

Veteran Hughes and actors Billie Bird, Ben Stein, and Bill Erwin.[1]

Behind the scenes

References

  1. ^ Credits @ Film.com Retrieved June 2009

External links


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