It was hilarious, jaded, and wildly inventive in 1985, even despite its rather thin story; decades later, it's still all those things, but it's also been proven far-sighted and sadly predictive. Watching in 1985, audiences were pondering such questions as: Will Sam's best friend Jack, the nefarious torturer/family man (played with gleeful abandon by Michael Palin), get his comeuppance? Will Sam win the heart of his beloved, misfit damsel? Will Sam's mother and her hapless friend survive the catastrophic series of plastic surgeries they've signed up for? Will the real Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro in his small, awesome first comedic role) stand up?
Today's audience will be in awe of how what seemed to be a ridiculous depiction of governmental eavesdropping, information gathering, militarized police forces, and general paranoia makes real headlines almost daily. Countless websites are devoted to the willing victims of bad plastic surgery. Gilliam's silly technical behemoths have given way to streamlined, compact technical products. Still, those electronic wonders are even more pervasive than the director imagined them to be. All of the above makes this film thought-provoking, meaningful, and undeniably rich for modern audiences. However, caution is advised. The violent scenes and images, though exaggerated in most instances, will be disturbing for most kids and some teens.