This was a time where the internet was capable of everything, and virtual reality was the wave of the future, which is what “Lawnmower Man” banks on to tell its yarn about the dangers of mind expansion. “Lawnmower Man” for a movie allegedly based on a Stephen King novella is really just a pastiche of other Frankenstein tales and tech gone bad stories from the past. It’s infamous, also, for being “based on” a Stephen King novel in name only (leading to a very notable lawsuit). Instead of a King tale, we get Jeff Fahey turning in to a computer and knocking boots with a very delectable Jenny Wright.
Pierce Brosnan plays a work obsessed Dr. Lawrence Angelo, who is working on a program that can advance the intellect of its subjects. While he wants to use it as a means of expanding minds and opening communication, his financers have other plans hoping to engineer it in to a war machine. After his experiment involving a chimpanzee fails, Dr. Angelo takes advantage of local mentally disabled lawnmower man and caretaker Jobe. Jobe is a nice enough guy whose only friend is a young preteen boy named Peter, and the owner of a gas station (Geoffrey Wright) he works for. After tricking Jobe in to getting in to his machine, he begins to reprogram his brain using the VR technology and a brain enhancing serum. When Jobe begins to transform, he begins to corrupt the tools for his own use and for his own grand scheme.
Director Brett Leonard doesn’t introduce too much original or innovative insight in to the idea of technology expanding our mind, thus much of is muddled pseudo-spiritual babble and clunky Christ allegories. It doesn’t help that the main character’s name is Jobe who is prey to just about everyone in his life. The more he evolves the more he views himself as a potential God, and this is where the movie basically falls apart. From there it’s basically just another revenge story where Jobe wreaks havoc on his enemies through really bad CGI. Even for 1992 the CGI is terrible to the point where it’s kind of laughable. In the VR landscape presented you can excuse it, but once he starts disassembling the atoms of his enemies or invading their minds, it’s distracting. Back in 1992 we didn’t know better, did we?
You can essentially predict where Jobe’s transformation will go and how his enemies will fare thanks to clunky foreshadowing and it’s all fairly mediocre PG-13 fare. You can lump “Lawnmower Man” in as a movie that takes from the pages of superior works like “Frankenstein,” “Carrie,” “Altered States,” “Deadly Friend,” and “Village of the Damned,” all superior. Brosnan can play a role of this ilk in his sleep, and comes off more like an opportunist even in the very end, while Jeff Fahey plays Jobe less as mentally disabled and more like someone with a social awkwardness. “Lawnmower Man” in its own right is an okay film despite being thirty minutes too long. It might even entertain you if you can lower your expectations and appreciate it as one of the many mediocre cyber thrillers from the nineties.
After spending years in discount bins and clearance sales, Scream Factory grants “Lawnmower Man” some TLC with a 2 Disc Blu-Ray Edition. The first disc features the original theatrical cut, as well as an audio commentary with writer/director Brett Leonard and writer/producer Gimel Everett. “Cyber God: Creating the Lawnmower Man” is a fifty minute exhaustive look in to the making of the film, from grabbing the rights from the short story, to making its own movie. There’s also looks at casting, the then groundbreaking special effects, and how New Line Cinema cut a lot of the film to tighten the pacing.
There are twenty seven minutes of deleted scenes, and the original Electronic Press Kit, a four minute bit of interviews with Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan. There’s the four minute edited animated sequences, the original theatrical trailer dropping Stephen King’s name, and the original TV Spot. The Second disc features the Director’s Cut of “Lawnmower Man” which garners over thirty extra minutes of added footage, not to mention a lot of re-cut sequences to change the pacing. There’s another audio commentary with writer/director Brett Leonard, and writer/producer Gimel Everett. There’s an HD slideshow of conceptual art and design sketches, Behind the scenes and production stills, and finally Storyboard comparisons, all of which are HD.