The Daily Stream: Why Do I Still Remember Every Punchline In Dennis The Menace?

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Dennis The Menace"

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: Loosely based on the popular Hank Ketcham comic strip of the same name, "Dennis the Menace" tells the goofball story of five-year-old Dennis Mitchell (Mason Gamble), a mischievous little boy who makes the life of his neighbor George Wilson (Walter Matthau) a living hell. Trouble follows Dennis at every turn, mostly due to his own childish curiosity and helpful schemes that inadvertently make things worse. When Dennis' parents are both required to leave town for work and struggle to find a babysitter for their kiddo, George's wife Martha (Joan Plowright) agrees to take in the boy, much to the chagrin of Mr. Wilson. Unfortunately, after a grifter named Switchblade Sam (Christopher Lloyd) robs the Wilson home, he takes Dennis as a hostage and now Mr. Wilson and the rest of town must join forces to safely bring him home.

Why it's essential viewing

The 1990s frickin' loved a good kid protagonist movie. Some films, like "The Sandlot" and "Home Alone" are considered cinematic classics, while films that meant the world to me as a kid (like "Heavyweights") are written off as childish fodder from a bygone era of cinematic slapstick nonsense. Considering the state of *gestures wildly* everything, I made it a point this weekend to watch movies that would allow me to give my emotions some time to decompress, and really smooth out my brain. "Ah, yes," I thought to myself, "Watching 'Dennis the Menace,' a film I haven't watched in 20 years will surely be my ticket to dumb b**** -ville." Reader, I was wrong.

For every silly physical comedy setup, every sight gag, and every punchline, I was immediately inundated with existential and psychological questions. Why doesn't anyone actually tell Dennis why his behavior is harmful? Why is everyone surprised that a five-year-old is rambunctious? Why are all the parents in this town so chill with their kindergarteners exploring the woods on their own? How did this movie get made? Why do I remember all of the lines from this movie? Why am I laughing so hard? Oh my god ... do I love "Dennis the Menace?!" Spoiler Alert: Yes, yes I do.

The team behind Dennis the Menace is ridiculously stacked with talent

First things first, "Dennis the Menace" was directed by Nick Castle, director of "The Last Starfighter," writer of "Escape from New York," and OG Michael Myers, himself. If that fact alone isn't enticing enough, the film was written by John Hughes — after "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" but before "Baby's Day Out." The film's score comes from legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith, the man who gave music to beloved faves like "Star Trek," "The Omen," "Planet of the Apes," "Poltergeist," "Gremlins," "Rambo," "Basic Instinct," and "Patton." The cinematography? I'm glad you asked. The film was shot by Thomas E. Ackerman, famed cinematographer of films like "Beetlejuice," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," "Jumanji," "Rat Race," and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."

Considering I was 3-years-old when this movie came out, I had no concept of how impressive this filmmaking team was until I noticed the opening credits and lost my mind. Perhaps more mind-blowing, "Dennis the Menace" made over $117 million at the box office, outperforming "Nightmare Before Christmas," "Hocus Pocus," Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey," and yes, "The Sandlot." Yes, "Dennis the Menace," the movie where Walter Matthau wears dentures with Chiclet teeth, Natasha Lyonne has a babysitter-couch-makeout session with Buzz from "Home Alone," and Christopher Lloyd tries to stab a child in the heart, made just under what "The Batman" pulled in from opening weekend (when adjusted for inflation).

The Home Alone movie you can watch year round

It's pretty obvious that the success of "Home Alone" is what allowed "Dennis the Menace" to exist in the first place, and while young Mason Gamble never quite reached Macaulay Culkin's heights, he still delivers a really solid performance as one of the most easily hateable yet utterly adorable kids in movie history.

Margaret Wade: You know why men are so lousy when it comes to taking care of babies?

Dennis Mitchell: They have better things to do.

Margaret Wade: Like what? Play golf and drink beer?

Dennis Mitchell: No, like hunting, having wars, driving cars, shaving ... cleaning fish.

Hughes' writing is clearly the result of "precocious child written by an adult" syndrome, but I can't help but laugh whenever Dennis has a weird observation about life, like the importance of bringing your own pillow to a sleepover so you don't get spit all over theirs when you drool. Kid protagonist movies like "Dennis the Menace," "Richie Rich," or "Blank Check" don't get made today with a studio backing, unless they're based on already super-popular IP like "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" or "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." For the most part, kid protagonist films are given less-than-stellar budgets and sent directly to streaming in the hopes that the flashy, algorithmically designed icon for the film will motivate families to watch after their 700th viewing of "Encanto." I'm desperately trying to stave off my impending "Old Lady Yells at Cloud" years, but the fact I'm getting sentimentally defensive over "Dennis the f***ing Menace" is a sign that these years are closer than I am comfortable with, and that's okay.