This week we are covering movies based on works by Stephen King. Lawnmower Man is currently available on instant Netflix.
AVOID: The Lawnmower Man (1992) – Rated R for language, sensuality and a scene of violence.
“A developmentally disabled landscaper named Jobe (Jeff Fahey) crosses paths with an obsessed government scientist (Pierce Brosnan) who has something to prove. Thanks to brilliant lab work, the mad doctor unlocks his test subjects potential for genius — and for evil. As Jobes intelligence grows, his pent-up rage begins to boil over. Based on Stephen Kings short story of the same name, the film is a knockout vision of high-tech horror.”
“This technology was meant to expand human communication, but you are not even human any more! What you have become terrifies me. You are a freak!” – “Your naive idiocy makes me VERY ANGRY!”
Bwahaha! I hardly know where to begin with this review.
Okay first let us cover the Stephen King connection. Stephen King wrote a short story titled The Lawnmower Man. The film claimed to be based on the short story. Hysterically it only has a slight tangential connection to that story in that the events that take place in it are mentioned briefly in the film.
Naturally, Stephen King sued (successfully) and had his name removed from the film. This however has not stopped Netflix and others from describing this as a Stephen King flick.
The opening scene where our scientist has used “aggression drugs” on his lab monkey is absolutely hysterical. The monkey apparently had too much because, while wearing a goofy virtual reality outfit, finishes the program, escapes, and grabs a handgun from the holster of a guard and blows his head off.
Brett Leonard is responsible for this unintentional laugh fest. He not only directed but co-wrote it with producer Gimel Everett. Keep in mind when watching this (if you must) that the King story was not even about virtual reality.
Strangely this is a virtual reality update of the classic science fiction story, “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. Only in addition to becoming more intelligent, Jobe also becomes EVIL!
This is because apparently giving someone the ability to learn Latin (or anything else) in two hours is not enough of a military operation. This causes the military to switch the drugs they are giving Jobe into the “aggression” ones they gave the monkey that worked out so well in the opening scene.
Not content with botching this movie about virtual reality, Brett Leonard would go on to make Virtuosity, another bad virtual reality movie.
Pierce Brosnan is actually pretty terrible here as the scientist. I think it might be because he was embarrassed by the script. Perhaps real cutting edge techno-scientists do not have a game room/laboratory that looks dated even for 1992. Thankfully Brosnan caught his TV-to-movie career break when he was picked as the new Bond for Goldeneye.
Jeff Fahey is fun as Jobe. He definitely does not give the heartfelt performance that Cliff Robertson gave in Charly (the real adaptation of Flowers for Algernon) but he has a keen grasp of B-movie acting. He is in really good shape here and has quite a stare with those striking ice blue eyes of his. Currently Fahey can be seen as Frank Lapidus on Lost.
Also having fun here is a very attractive Jenny Wright as the sexually adventurous Marnie Burke. Veteran character actor Geoffrey Lewis plays Terry McKeen, a sort of father figure to Jobe.
The plot makes almost no sense. They throw in every possible lawnmower reference they can even though that did not really have anything to do with the King story.
Apparently as soon as you become halfway intelligent, you realize that maybe you want to cut the hair BLOCKING YOUR VISION! After that when you become evil, you apparently acquire a new hairdo as well.
The final act is ridiculous beyond comprehension and I mean literally beyond comprehension. There are a dozen or so guards armed with shotguns just standing in the open doing nothing. When their heads begin bothering them, they cannot think clearly enough to shoot the approaching vehicle but apparently have the presence of mind to move out of the way. Immediately after that they have no problem shooting at something else.
Is there any cliche more hackneyed than the bomb on a timer? Seriously does no one use remote detonators? Heck even a length of fuse would work better.
Later Dr. Angelo (Brosnan) does something inexplicably moronic BECAUSE THE SCRIPT TELLS HIM TO. Unfortunately this too close to the end for me to discuss without spoilers.
People Watch: Doug Hutchison has a small role here as a Security Tech. He would later play the uber-creepy Eugene Victor Tooms on two episodes of X-Files and Horace Goodspeed in seven episodes of Lost.