Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Nostalgic '90s Movie Everyone's Watching On Netflix

Even though Netflix has exciting new movies and TV shows arriving on the regular, sometimes a blast from the past is in order. That's clearly the mood some Netflix viewers are in at the moment. After it arrived on the streaming service on August 1, the 1993 family comedy Dennis the Menace has sling-shot its way onto the list of the top ten most viewed movies on Netflix.

The movie is an adaptation of the long-running comic-strip of the same name about a rambunctious child who is known for getting into trouble, especially with his cantankerous neighbor, Mr. Wilson. Although the film got pretty lousy reviews when it was released, it did well at the box office and spawned two direct-to-video sequels. And based on its popularity on Netflix, it looks like Dennis' brand of adolescent mischief got the last laugh in this case.

Whether viewers are watching for a potent hit of pure nostalgia, or just looking for some good-old-fashioned family entertainment, Dennis the Menace appears to be the late-summer film of choice for many Netflix subscribers.

What is Dennis the Menace about?

The original comic-strip that Dennis the Menace was adapted from began running in newspapers in 1951, and drew heavily from the comedic fountain that is "young children behaving badly." The series, which is still running today, follows Dennis on his neverending childhood adventures. Per the title, his antics usually end up terrorizing his parents or his neighbor, Mr. Wilson, who is perpetually aggravated by Dennis, despite the fact that Dennis only wants to be his friend.

The 1993 film adaptation used that basic framework, but beefed up the narrative to ensure a theatrical run time and added some Home Alone style Rube Goldberg inspired set pieces, for good measure. In the movie, Dennis isn't the only menace the residents of his neighborhood need to watch out for. There's also a burglar on the loose named Switchblade Sam (Christopher Lloyd). When Dennis witnesses him stealing Mr. Wilson's (Walter Matthau) coin collection, Dennis has to bring him to justice to prove that the theft wasn't just another one of his pranks.

All in all, it's pretty light fare. However, just because it's a broad, family-friendly, movie doesn't mean there isn't some serious talent in its cast.

Dennis the Menace has a stacked cast

While a live-action adaptation of a syndicated comic-strip might not seem like a very prestigious project, Dennis the Menace managed to attract some top-notch actors. Walter Matthau, the Tony, Oscar, and Golden Globe-winning actor who was best known for The Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men, stars as Mr. Wilson. His wife, Martha Wilson, is played by Tony and Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Joan Plowright. That's a lot of accolades for an on-screen couple who spend most of the movie being bullied by a five year old.

Iconic character actor Christopher Lloyd plays the film's villain, Switchblade Sam. Lloyd is perhaps best known for playing Doc in the Back to the Future movies. In fact, Dennis the Menace provided a reunion for Lloyd and his Back to the Future co-star, Lea Thompson, who appears as Dennis' mom. To top it all off, the film was one of the earliest credits of Orange Is the New Black and Russian Doll star Natasha Lyonne, who appears briefly as Dennis' babysitter.

The titular menace was played by a then-unknown child actor named Mason Gamble. After an exhaustive audition process, Gamble beat out more than 20,000 other child actors for the role, according to the Greensboro News & Record. Legend has it that he cinched the role as the troublesome Dennis when he pulled a live worm out of his pocket during his audition.

The 1993 movie Dennis the Menace isn't the first adaptation of the comic

Although 1993's Dennis the Menace is one of the more well-known adaptations of the classic comic strip, it was hardly the first. A popular sitcom version aired for four seasons on CBS starting in 1959. That was followed by a live-action 1987 TV movie titled Dennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter, which sees Dennis inadvertently turning his street into a tourist attraction when he discovers a rare fossil in his backyard.

The '80s also saw the premiere of an animated series, also titled Dennis the Menace, that ran for 78 episodes. Another cartoon version, All-New Dennis the Menace, premiered in 1993, the same year the live-action movie was released. There was even a side-scrolling adventure video game  that served as a loose adaptation of the live-action movie.

In a strange twist, Dennis isn't the only menace on the scene. A popular British comic-strip of the same name and a similar premise also debuted in 1951 (via BBC), although it eventually became known as Dennis the Menace and Gnasher or just Dennis and Gnasher. That comic also has a number of adaptations, but none of those are on Netflix's top ten list, so it looks like we know who the top Dennis the Menace is.