A ChucksConnection Film Review

Justin Cooper wears black high top Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars in the film.

Dennis the Menace Strikes Again

by Hal Peterson


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Dennis the Menace and his friends Gina, Gunther, Joey, and Margaret.

Dennis the Menace Strikes Again is one of the better efforts to bring the famous comic strip to the screen. Always the significant factor in this kind of a film is how Dennis is presented. He can’t be portrayed as an obnoxious brat, because the true Dennis always was trying to pursue a sincere kind of friendship with Mr. Wilson or whoever else came his way. Instead it is his intent to please and offer his version of friendship that causes all of the various calamities to happen in the typical Dennis the Menace plot. The opening scene in the film is a perfect example of this. It is Mr. Wilson’s birthday. As the scene unfolds, we see Wilson (Don Rickles) getting up in the morning for a perfect birthday while Mrs. Wilson (Betty White) is making him a fancy birthday cake. He wants to know if she has breathed a word of his birthday to Dennis (Justin Cooper), to which she replies, “No, dear.” But of course Dennis knows all about it, and has been planning to bring Mr. Wilson a special gift. He can’t decide which one of his prize lizards, frogs, snakes, or insects he should give him, so he loads them all up in his red wagon and drags them upstairs to Mr. Wilson’s bedroom while he is taking a bath. You can guess the rest: the wagon is spilled, and all of the creatures escape to run around the Wilson house and torment Mr. Wilson. Eventually Wilson falls down the stairs and his beautiful birthday cake falls on top of him.

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Dennis and his dad talk about Mr. Wilson.

Dennis the Menace Strikes Again offers a new variation on the relationship between Dennis and Mr. Wilson. Dennis has a new interest besides Mr. Wilson when his grandfather (George Kennedy) comes to the Mitchell household and announces that he is going to live with them full time, so that he can spend more time with Dennis. This leads to a rivalry between Wilson and grandpa that is played for laughs as they face off in various ways. Another element in the story is the arrival of two con men, the Professor (Brian Doyle-Murray) and Sylvester (Carrot Top) who try to take Mr. Wilson for his savings as they first attempt to sell him a fountain of youth machine, and then as phony contractors con Wilson into all kinds of unneeded repairs on his house. But the con men haven’t reckoned with Dennis.

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Dennis hooks up the hose to Mr. Wilson’s car washing machine.

Besides the adult goings on, you also see the other kid characters in this film. Joey (Danny Turner), Gunther (Keith Reece), Gina (Alexa Vega as the ultimate tomboy), and Dennis form a boys only club with the sole object of keeping Margaret (Jacqueline Steiger) out, but she quickly figures a way to outsmart them by coming up with her own fancy bug collection. Dennis the Menace Strikes Again is real light family fare, but it will provide you with a chuckle or two as you watch Dennis deal with the world. The film is well cast, with Justin Cooper offering a fine performance as the calamity prone towhead. Don Rickles works out very well as the ever aggravated Mr. Wilson, and the other adults and kids seem believable in their roles.

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Dennis and his grandfather visit the Grand Canyon.

Best Chucks Scene

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Dennis and his frog look for Mr. Wilson in his bedroom.

Throughout the film you see Dennis in either his basic attire of red overalls, black and white striped t-shirt, and black chuck high tops, or in his cowboy outfit. Again this is exactly the way he is portrayed in the comic strip. The best chucks scene is probably the opening sequence when Dennis drags his red wagon full of critters into Mr. Wilson’s bedroom, so Wilson can pick one for a birthday present. As Dennis looks for Wilson after the creatures get out, there are some good close up shots of his chucks.

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Dennis peeks into Mr. Wilson’s bathroom.

Once in a while you see another kid wearing chucks, and there is one quick cutaway where you see a kid on a bicycle wearing red high tops drive by the Wilson and Mitchell houses.

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Kid wearing red high top chucks rides his bicycle by Dennis’ house.

Dennis the Menace Strikes Again. (1998) (Made for Video) Justin Cooper, Heidi Swedberg, Dwier Brown, Betty White, Don Rickles, Brian Doyle-Murray, George Kennedy.
Directed by Charles T. Kanganis. Categories: Comedy, Family.
ChucksConnection Rating: 3 chucks ratingMPAA Rating: G

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