The Lawnmower Man (1992) Poster

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Not an absolute masterpiece, but well worth the rental
millennia-212 April 2000
I got 'The Lawnmower Man' as part of one of those 'Buy a pizza and get a free movie' deals, and I put off watching it. And put it off more. And more, until finally I had nothing else to do, so I popped it in the VCR and sat back. Two and half hours later (It was the director's cut- don't see the normal version as it is not nearly as good) it instantly became one of my favorite movies, so I rewound it and watched it again.

To date I have seen it four of five times, as it has problems, it's not very fast paced, but is terribly engaging and Fahey is superb in the lead. The writing isn't great, but is passable, and the computer effects, though far from the center of the story, are excellent.

If you haven't seen it yet, or have only seen the normal version, it is well worth the rental, or even purchase.
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an early look at the coming power of computers
Lee Eisenberg12 July 2006
Stories about a simple person getting turned into something more seem pretty common in movies, but none are like "The Lawnmower Man". Portraying scientist Pierce Brosnan turning retarded Jeff Fahey into a super-genius (with unintended consequences), this is one movie destined to blow your mind. The visual effects were beyond impressive even for 1992, but they never dominate the movie. We might say that the movie deals with the dangers of people relying too much on technology, and also the dangers of militarism, but even aside from that, this is a movie worth seeing. Check it out.

Oh, and I think that we can all agree that the sequel needs to be avoided at all costs.
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Was a good movie at the time and it still is
Fusion-88 December 1999
I went to see this movie in the theater when it was released. At the time the graphics were not dated in any way shape or form. Where is VR today? I recently bought the DVD and after watching it and remembering that it was an eight (8) year old movie, I still enjoyed it. I have seen a few VR games in arcades and to be honest the graphics today aren't much better than they were in this movie. I have seen a lot of comments about the effects being dated and I think that should be common sense when watching an older movie. When I watch Tron I don't think that the graphics are dated, I just remember that the movie was made in 1982 and effects and computer animation weren't the same back then as they are today. Most older movies have that look when compared to today's special effects. I always take that into account when watching older movies. I enjoyed Lawnmower Man then, now and I will the next time I watch it. I will keep it in my DVD collection.
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A film to fuel the imagination.
martin-48714 August 2004
Forget the Stephen King connection. Their take on aspects of computers may be a bit off, but it's fiction, let it be fun. And for god's sake, lay off the special effects.

What you end up with is a fantastic film about the possibilities and dangers of technology in a hypothetical world. You see the hopes and dreams of a brilliant scientists, and the manipulation of a militaristic government. You get to see a great example of "power corrupting" a human being.

I've seen this film a lot, from 15 to 25 years old, and the last scene of the movie never fails to give me shivers.

But please, please, please don't watch the sequel. Really.
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Let's party like it's 1992
Red-Barracuda14 September 2010
This effect-laden sci-fi horror film looked pretty impressive back in 1992. But of course times move on, and such movies have a tendency to look dated quicker than most as technology marches on to new levels. I guess The Lawnmower Man is one of these films. But in fairness, it can be quite fun to look back at old special effects and see what was cutting edge back in the day. In truth, today if you were to give a 12 year old child a computer game with graphics similar to those in The Lawnmower Man, that child would turn around and laugh in your face. Such is the speed of computer technology. So yes, The Lawnmower Man no longer looks cutting-edge but neither does it look terrible, its effects work within themselves and are only occasionally atrocious, such as the burning priest.

As most people already know, the story is about a simpleton who is turned into a genius via virtual reality technology. The side effect of this method is that it turns the, otherwise good natured man into an insane evil psychotic.

The Lawnmower Man is neither a particularly good film, nor an especially bad one. There's certainly nothing special here, and the effects were by far its chief selling point. Without them this would almost certainly be a forgotten B-movie. Pierce Brosnan and Jeff Fahey are reasonable enough in their roles, but they were always going to play second fiddle to the CGI. At the heart of it all it's a simple clichéd story that doesn't really hold very many surprises to be perfectly honest. But it's still quite good fun in a silly kind of a way.
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"Different" plot, effective computer graphics, overall classic film
Tom16uk7 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
As you've probably seen, a lot of people have have seriously slagged off this film. In most cases, its because of the unusual plot. But I think that this is what makes this movie.

Your also bound to be confused with what the plot is, but its not complicated. Pierce Brosnan (Known as 'Angelo')is a scientist who works for a company that specialise in virtual reality and computer generation. Brosnan has been working on a project which enables people to become smarter, but has had tough luck finding volunteers. However, his luck changes when he realises that his friend 'Jobe', a lawnmower man who is slightly backwards could be the perfect specimen. Angelos tests prove successful, and things go great. But as in all films, there's a downside.. Jobe becomes too smart and takes revenge on people as his life becomes estranged with computer generation.

It would be cruel to tell you any more - the film is marvellous in the directing department. Jobe's frustration is well screened an some of the ideas are great. Even Brosnan plays a great part in this film and makes us forget he is 007 in years to come.

The CGI in this film is what makes it. OK, I have to admit, Terminator 2's special effects are in a different league, but the effects in this film are not supposed to be super realistic. They are supposed to be a vision (in most cases) of virtual reality - how a computer generated world would look. They are engaging, but dated. Still, I think there effective and entertaining. some people say this film is a thriller, an in ways their right. But don't get mis led and think this is a horror film - it isn't, its more psychological.

So, the final verdict. If your into films that are certainly different than the usual s**t we get these days, I would recommend this definitely. However, if you have no idea what virtual reality is or have no patience, then don't bother. Classic stuff!
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A movie well worth seeing
Reiver-2-229 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This movie truly impressed me. The special effects are pretty dated now, especially the scene where the *blocked to avoid spoiler* was caught on fire, and the computer effects are very colorful, almost like a cartoon. However, the plot was nice and satisfying, and watching Jobe change from a dumb farmer to a psychopathic genius was very interesting. It had a few niggling flaws, and is by no means a perfect movie, but it is very enjoyable and both Peirce Brosnan and Jeff Fahey give great performances!
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An enjoyable trainwreck
Brandt Sponseller10 July 2005
Given the absolute trainwreck that this film is in many respects, it's surprising that the story works as well as it does once it gets going. The middle of the film is actually somewhat engaging, there are scenes where odd flashes of competence shine through, and the beginning of the climax, at least, is pretty suspenseful, even though it peters out when it should be reaching a fevered pitch. Even with the plethora of problems, The Lawnmower Man is worth watching for fans of "so bad it's good" films (even though this isn't exactly so bad that it's good), just to witness the atrocious special effects (almost all CGI) and the bizarre concatenation of elements that it's almost impossible to imagine anyone thought would be a good idea if they weren't intentionally shooting for a comedy or an absurdist genre film. Yes, director/writer Brett Leonard, co-writer Gimel Everett and the production team were serious, and thought that they were producing a cutting-edge, hip and thrilling genre film--something like the Matrix of its time. That alone is funny enough once you've seen a few minutes of the film to make this worth a watch.

The story has two protagonists, one of which eventually becomes something of an anti-hero. The film begins with a text prediction about just how prevalent and influential virtual reality will be at the turn of the 21st Century. In retrospect, it underscores just how ridiculously inflated revolutionary or "savior" technology predictions tend to be. We then meet Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan before he was in a position to turn down starring roles), who is engaged in virtual reality research for the government (his superiors call their project/division "The Shop"). He's experimenting on monkeys, and per his superior's orders, the focus is on military uses--the monkey is being virtual reality trained in battle strategy while they're manipulating its aggression levels. As anyone who has seen at least two or three genre films could guess, this ends up backfiring. The monkey freaks out and runs rampant through the secret government facility, attacking employees.

Dr. Angelo semi-voluntarily goes on hiatus. He had wanted to eventually test human subjects for susceptibility to his virtual reality "mind expansion", without the emphasis on violence, but that seems a lost cause. However, after his wife leaves him, he decides that maybe he can do the research on his own. He decides that the perfect test subject is the titular lawnmower man--his neighbor Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey). Jobe happens to be developmentally disabled. Of course, things do not go exactly as planned with the tests on Jobe, either, especially once The Shop gets wind of what Dr. Angelo is doing.

The Lawnmower Man grew out of a Stephen King short story that most famously appeared in his Night Shift collection. The King story is only a few pages long, and it bears almost no resemblance to the film. The only scene that's at all similar is the one involving a lawn mower and Peter Parkette's (Austin O'Brien) father. It might be informative for those who have a less than consistently favorable opinion of King-oriented films to note that King sued to have any reference to his name removed. I actually like most King-oriented films, but I find the suit amusing, too.

What makes The Lawnmower Man such a trainwreck? The most prominent problem, because it is such a focus of the film, is the CGI. When Dr. Angelo is working with human subjects in The Shop's facilities, they wear "spiffy" spandex suits reminiscent of Tron (1982). That may be enough of a problem in itself (and just who made those suits if Dr. Angelo had never been authorized to work with humans?), but the bigger problem is that the CGI is also reminiscent of Tron. That's not to say that Tron isn't successful, but it had very primitive CGI. There, it was more excusable for three reasons. One, it was made in the late 1970s/early 1980s, when CGI _had_ to be much more primitive. Two, realizing this, Tron director Steven Lisberger aimed at creating more of a minimalist world. And three, once introduced to us, most of Tron took place in that world.

By the early 1990s, computer graphics had progressed quite a bit. Yet, Leonard allows The Lawnmower Man's CGI sequences to almost exclusively consist of brightly colored, low-resolution, simple geometric shapes floating around in a featureless world. Admittedly, The Lawnmower Man was a bit low-budgeted. But I'm not sure that excuses computer graphics that look like they were done on a Commodore 64 by someone working through a basic pixel animation book. And this stuff is supposed to "accelerate the evolution of the human mind?" It wouldn't matter so much if this were not the crux of the film. But the CGI is as important here as the scenes inside The Matrix are to that film. The effects work a bit better when they're integrated with cinematography. But Leonard avoids that more than he should.

And the CGI isn't the only problem. The story otherwise is extremely awkward. Most of it is unintentionally absurdist. Jobe lives in a little shack in an otherwise normal suburban neighborhood. A sadistic priest regularly flogs him. A beautiful widow seduces him. Peter's family is almost a spoof of the typical King family, with an abusive, alcoholic father. All of these people bizarrely live right next door to Dr. Angelo. I could go on and on, but there isn't room.

Still, there are aspects of the story that work. When Leonard finally gets around to death scenes, they're pretty good. The suspense stuff when Dr. Angelo is in Washington is good. And the overall arc about Jobe transforming, but getting out of control and seeking revenge is enjoyable, pithy and certainly a classic, archetypal plot. But this isn't anything if it's not a mixed bag. Watch expecting a trainwreck, and you should be entertained for an evening.
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Intriguing ideas, even for today
thelectrichair10118 July 2017
Many here have commented about being deterred by the film's dated CGI and "mundane story-line." To the contrary, I was quite intrigued by the film's premise and was excited by the film's early and revolutionary use of computer graphics within the still-novel concept of virtual reality.

The film's plot is essentially that of Frankenstein's with the concept of virtual reality sewn in. Seeing this film for the first time just recently, I was shocked at some of the ideas introduced in this film (not even considering virtual reality): the evolutionary relationship amongst humans and computers, the ethical dilemmas and consequences involved with the immediate acceptance of technology into the mainstream, the digitization of consciousness as a possible segue into immortality/domination... I don't think it's too far fetched to mention that some of the ideas presented here resonate with those of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists and computer theorists. Forget 1992, even today this is some really groundbreaking stuff.

The effects depicting the VR technology in this movie, while of course dated, are also fascinating to watch. Perhaps I'm biased since I'm very interested in the evolution of special and digital effects throughout film history, but watching the often surreal CGI abstractions left me amazed considering this stuff came out twenty-five years ago. There is something truly artistic about the free-form CGI in this piece, not at all bounded by the photorealism that all CGI produced today seems to strive for, that makes it extremely exciting and perhaps even enlightening to watch.

Does the movie present these ideas perfectly? Well, no. Towards the end of the film I thought the movie spun out of control to put it simply, and there was a romance that was little rushed,, but to me those are very minor complaints compared to what else the film DOES give us, in terms of groundbreaking ideas, pioneering and truly mind-warping visual effects, a novel yet traditional story-line, some heartfelt performances, and entertaining scenes. Perhaps this film was misunderstood in the pre-Internet days of 1992, but watching it again today it's clear that this film really sought to grapple with some pretty novel and complex ideas that most studio productions wouldn't dare touch today. And for that, I really admire this film.
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Value this movie as you live in early 90's
rdobber27 July 2005
I saw this movie in early 90's (1991?) and a that time I spaced out on the special effects. In Amsterdam where I lived at that time there were enough helpful "items" which influences the way of experiencing movies. So with a little "green" help this really was a great movie. Imagine that it is possible to alter your personality or intelligence by experiencing virtual reality. Scary, but interesting thought.

Nowadays I still think it was a strong movie for that time. Just use your imagination and don't compare it to real life and Matrix kind of movies and you'll enjoy it.

If you have no imagination leave it in the box.
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One Version Good, One Version Bad
glamiss-113 October 2002
When many people (who have seen it) hear of Lawnmower Man, they immediatelycringe and think of a poor rendition of a movie and wonder why the actors who were in it... were in it. The Director's Cut fills in so many blanks left out by the "normal" version that it isn't even funny to think about the "normal" version anymore. The Director's Cut should have been the one to reach press, and the public... The show was done well with excellent storyline.
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Nice movie concept, good actors, good atmosphere, bad effects
netdoor31 August 2004
Its a good movie , one of those that keep you the whole time your attention on the screen. For this its deserve already a good rate. Then we could tell that the actors are quite good in their acting, that the visual effects aren't always perfect , but we were also in 1992!! Also its a good combination of Science fiction/Thriller/Horror movie , not many movies succeed in this. The supernatural that involve into the story sounds a bit strange but who knows effectively what could happen when certain barriers are broken?....and visual effects are not "all" in a movie, the audience fantasy should still play a rule... sorry for my English) *Frankie*
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If you consider the year of making you might see the real thing behind the now outdated FX. A must see for sci-fi lovers.
Prof_hu21 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie back in the early nineties when it became available in Hungary. (I think it was only a few months later than the original release.) I remember I was completely stunned by both the visuals and the concepts the movie offered. I think the idea of using computers (and especially virtual reality) as a tool for enhancing someones intellectual and mental capabilities was something that pointed very much into the future. Especially with VR and 3D graphics being really far from commercial use by that time. (And VR is still quite far from it, 13 years later.) Also it raised some all-time moral questions, for example the use of a new technology for bad (military) or good (educational) purposes. And no surprise, you'll find out that the decision is in the hands of the funding source, as always, In this case, the military. (As always?)

So, even if this movie is pretty much outdated now visually, it still deserves maximum respect from me. I recommend it to all sci-fi lovers, but it might make anyone thinking for a while who has a philosophic sense.
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The darker side of science
david-sarkies16 December 2012
This movie is just one purely awesome movie. From the cuts one would expect a movie that is simply showing off virtual reality, but it is much more than that. Sure enough, there are some brilliant virtual reality scenes, and it does explain things about it, but the explanation moves from a simple advertisement to the extent of the possible abuse of the technology.

Lawnmowerman is not a science-fiction movie, it is a horror movie. When I say horror movie, it is not horrible monsters chasing maidens everywhere and ripping people to shreds, rather it stretches reality to a point where we can see a possibility in what is being portrayed in the movie as actually happening. On the cover, the credits say "based on a short story by Stephen King." There are aspects of Stephen King in this movie, such as The Shop, which is a government research facility devoted to the development of almost occult powers with the purpose of waging war, but Stephen King did not give permission to make this movie, and when he sued the makers of the movie, they were forced to remove him from the credits.

This movie looks at man's basic obsession with power. Doctor Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) is really a naive scientist who has a romantic view of science. His romantic discoveries are corrupted by the Shop's desire to see how far they push the experiments in the development of a weapon of war. Angelo wants to create something that will aid humanity, but unfortunately he must go to the Shop as they are the only ones who have the facilities, but with their facilities comes the pressure to develop something they can use. Their interests are not in helping people, but in destroying people.

There are two sides to everything in this movie. On the simple level there is Father Macay, who is a kind priest that took Jobe in when he was young and abandoned. On the other side he is tyrant side, using his good deeds to enslave Jobe. Jobe's simpleness creates a dichotomy, as on one hand he is innocent and friendly, where as on the other hand he is ridiculed and easily manipulated. Doctor Angelo is a brilliant scientist who is working at the cutting edge of computer science, where as he is a man who is obsessed with his work to the point that he drives away his wife.

The project is what reveals the greatest dichotomy. This is a breakthrough in regards to healing the retarded. People that were once ridiculed because of their backwardness can now live among normal human society. When we look deeper we notice that Doctor Angelo really does not know what he is doing. He thinks he is helping Jobe but we notice that things are changing about him. Not only is he becoming like everybody else, but he is developing extra abilities. When Jobe is first operated on, we see symbols flashing at him. These symbols appear to be related to sorcery which suggests not only that Doctor Angelo is working with things he does not understand, it also raises the possibility of an evil, uncontrollable side to it.

The uncontrollable side comes out when the project 5 formula is used on Jobe. This formula is supposed to be the formula used to reach the maximum mental capacity. It had been used of chimps with surprising results, but also there was another side to it. Where as it advanced the chimps mentally, it also made them more aggressive. The same is with Jobe. We see that he advances to an extraordinary stage, he is almost a god, but he also becomes incredibly aggressive, almost inhuman. Even though, there is still a very human aspect to him. When he confronts his enemies, father Macay and Jake, he gives them a chance to repent; when they do not then they are dealt with. He does not let on that he is incredibly powerful, but once they realise it, it is too late. When Peter is trapped in VSI, Jobe cannot allow him to die. He has a choice between trying to escape the mainframe, or letting Doctor Angelo rescue him. The pain of the choice, and the humanity that still does remain within him is represented by his icon becoming flesh.

An interesting event in the movie is with father Macay. Though he is a minor character, his character is developed well. He is portrayed as the typical hypocritical catholic priest. His quote "how can we let these godless creatures on the sacred altar" really outline his ignorance, especially how God created the ants. His comment on the sacred altar is meaningless because all it really is is a piece of wood with a piece of cloth on it. The sacred altar is an old testament concept, whereas Jesus' death wash all of this away. The book of Hebrews clearly outlines how these rites are no longer necessary. His ignorance is even more clearly seen when he says, "and he will bring the wrath of God upon him just like his namesake." All I can say to Father Macay, open your bible and read it. God was not angry with Job and did not punish him. Rather it is more about suffering. The bible is very clear that Job was a righteous man and that God was not punishing him. We also see the results of this ignorance when Jobe is doing his penance. He quickly finishes it off and immediately turns away from God and worships the lawnmower. This looks stupid, but it is something that really happens. The hypocrisy of many Christians drive people away from God and to other, stupid, idols, such as football.

The Lawnmowerman is an awesome movie, one that I have bought, and will watch again. I love this movie and would highly recommend it to others.
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A modern sci-fi/horror adaptation from the mind of Stephen King
kclipper3 July 2011
The first half of this science fiction horror tale (based on a short story from Stephen King's Night Shift Collection) is thought provoking and gripping, but the latter half decides to dive deep into an eccentric and confusing mix of special effects and pseudo-scientific mayhem. Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) is a brilliant but obsessed computer science specialist that is engaged in secret government experiments to create super-intelligent soldiers out of chimpanzees by using virtual reality simulations to stimulate the brain. When the experiment goes haywire, and a rogue chimp gets away, Angelo believes his destiny is to better mankind by using a human subject for his projects for the purpose of curing brain diseases and not warfare. His subject is Jobe, (played perfectly by Jeff Fahey) the half-wit lawnmower man that lives in the shed of a church next door. As Dr. Angelo's experiments progress, Jobe becomes an intelligent super-human genius whose powers eventually spiral out of control.

This film is triumphant on many various levels. Films dealing with a gradual transformation/disintegration of a central character are very intriguing to watch, and this is very much "Cronenbergian" in its portrayal of Jobe and how he develops into a telekinetic mad genius from a complete idiot and ultimately becomes a tragically vengeful and emotionless entity. The themes dealing with the unlocking of the human primordial intellect and controlling its power by wisdom and not impatient force work wonderfully. The performances are superb as well as the animation sequences, and director Brett Leonard (Virtuosity) is good at integrating them into a live action film. There are many sinister government character types that add suspense to the plot, and Jenny Wright is great as the sexy seductress neighbor who has her way with Jobe. The only time this fails is when Jobe gets revenge on the government goons and the characters that antagonized him by merging his powers with the world of virtual reality resulting in some far out murder sequences that just don't seem to make any sense. Jobe eventually infuses himself with the computer mainframe, and the climax becomes a bit too bizarre, even for sci-fi computer geek fans. Nonetheless, this is a well-made, above-average assault on the senses. If you can find the VHS unrated director's cut, it is much better than the DVD release which is cut by almost twenty minutes, losing most of its character development and style. This is highly recommended for fans of mind-bending sci-fi/horror.
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i love this movie
kanerocks1501 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
***may contain spoilers*** i just remember always wanting to see the movie ever since i was 4(seeing as i played the old computer game that takes place after the movie)all the time. of course i was too young then. when i saw it i was a little disappointed, but recently i bought the DVD which took out the stuff that wasn't needed like angelo's depression and caroline's death. instead she just left and never came back. the movie was faster paced with some scenes that were not needed in the film taken out. its definitely worth buying in my opinion. the VHS director's cut isn't as good at the DVD (which i don't know why they aren't the same) because they still left boring things in there. the plot is good and the acting is too. the movie began to become farfeched when jobe gets physic powers, but i still enjoyed it. the computer graphics are awesome and very enjoyable. i loved all of the virtual reality scenes. also, it doesn't have a happy ending, which i'm glad it didn't. it's just too bad they made a "sequal" that ruined the point of the lawnmower man...
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So bad it becomes good then becomes bad again, all within half an hour...
mentalcritic12 October 2007
It perplexes me, seeing people give this film ten out of ten ratings. I generally trust the opinions of people who do so to the extent that if they told me the sky was blue, I would look out the window and see for myself. Because no matter how you look at it, The Lawnmower Man was a film with a terrible script, based on some terrible ideas, trying to trade off the name of an author who was at the peak of his commercial success. Said author, one tall American by the name of Stephen King, liked the idea of his short story being used to bolster the bleak commercial prospects of this film so much that he took the producers to court and demanded they stopped using his name. Having read Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man for myself, I completely understand why. Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man is a surreal terror story that twists suburban convention in a manner that only Stephen King can. Brett Leonard's The Lawnmower Man has not an original or well thought out idea anywhere in its little head.

Part of the problem stems from the basic story of the film. The central story involves a scientist attempting to use virtual reality to train simpler minds such as those of monkeys to perform tasks that any normal human being would regard as complex. When our bold scientist meets a man who is, to put it bluntly, quite retarded, a light goes on in his head. What if the virtual reality simulator could be used to accelerate the functioning of this gardener's brain to the point where at least nominal calculations are no longer beyond him? And therein lies one of the problems most critics never pick up on. The human brain is demonstrably more complex than an electronic board or an engine, and accelerating it or repairing it is a much more complex process than this film gives credit for. When you add to that the fact that if Albert Einstein had been born around the same time as I was, he would have been diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism, this film's conception of the difference between simple and god-like becomes very shaky indeed.

Not helping matters any is the apparent lack of research or planning that permeates the screenplay. In one memorable scene, we are told by the supposedly brilliant Doctor Lawrence that Jobe has mastered the Latin alphabet in a matter of hours, whereas it took him a year. This prompts the question of who is really retarded in this scenario, given that the Latin alphabet is something every child in the English-speaking world learns between their fifth and sixth birthday. At other times, the script seems to have been written by a twelve year old who has been listening to Black Sabbath songs like Iron Man a little too closely. Jobe's proclamation about how he will take over every computer system in the world being the best example. But the worst parts come when the script paints the characters into corners that they have no possibility of escaping, so the writers shoehorn in a convenient device. The writers here clearly had no idea of what a security backdoor is or how it works in the real computing world.

Fortunately, Hollywood productions tend to have at least one strength they can fall back on when all else fails. Since the Hollywood system attracts some of the best actors money can buy, it stands to reason that The Lawnmower Man would have some commendable performances in spite of the terrible screenplay. Jeff Fahey's performance as Jobe easily rings the truest in this entire film. Pretending to be retarded is enough of a challenge for an actor. Pretending to be retarded, then suddenly gifted with mental faculties that would make Newton or Tesla envious, then given over the megalomania, is quite an acrobatic act. That Fahey pulls it off so well in spite of the script he is working from is a credit to him. Pierce Brosnan is no slouch, either, even though his performance as a scientist has little to discern itself from his performance as a secret agent. Somehow, this matter-of-fact, questioning portrayal really suits the scientist a lot better. Brosnan's performance as the man wondering where he went wrong is the only real anchor this film has.

Much has been made of the virtual reality environments around which some of the plot is based. In 1992, simulating a self-contained environment within a computer was a frontier, and someone in the studio obviously thought this would be a good trend to cash in on. What they did not anticipate was that computing was becoming a very monolithic market, and a lot of the fantastic dreams we had about the future of computing were about to fall by the wayside. At the same time, the ability of computers to splice funky effects into films was growing at an exponential rate. A year prior, a little film called Terminator 2 had dazzled audiences with a combination of very simple computer-generated effects and practical effects that made the villain of the piece seem almost invincible. By comparison, the attempts to convince an audience that our characters had found their way inside a computer system were so half-hearted that it left audiences wondering if this were some kind of joke. Sadly, the end result has that Ed Wood touch of broadcasting a failure to think things through.

As a result, this production of The Lawnmower Man ends up being a classical one out of ten film. Film school students can look at it for examples of when an ambitious effect or series of effects are not done well.
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okay, people....
releasethebats7627 April 2002
i'm kinda weary of the stephen king references to fuel the dislikes of this film, not to mention those who thought this was a lame attempt at horror. THIS IS A SCIENCE FICTION FILM!!! this is stephen king by character names and simple, skeleton basis only!! i have seldom ever seen better character development/evolution better handled in a film. this is a true credit to the world of science fiction. we have a disgruntled, anti-war, but corporately suppressed, scientist with a vision for bettering the world who regrets what he creates due to the direction he was forced to take. we have a slow, simple-minded underdog who gets ridiculed and taken advantage of who is used as a lab rat and eventually becomes what could easily be an Anti-Christ figure- a hero turned anti-hero. this, to me, is drama and then some. the slow pace of this is intentional as every frame of every scene is imperative to the development or eventual development of a key character. this has all the intensity and thought that '2001-a space odyssey' ever had, not to demean kubrick by any means. his film was visionary, yet practical and a well recognized piece of true thought. this is how i view 'the lawnmower man.' one really needs to look at this as a study in character interaction and development, rather than just basic horror or an insult to stephen king. to those who appreciate a good story with interesting twists that is over all intelligently told, yet intentionally disturbingly concluded, this is for you. for those looking for a book on film or a horror flik for a date, avoid it, because you probably won't understand what this film is trying to get across. along with the obvious 'frankenstein' like story, it could also be like Einstein and his eventual leading to the atomic bomb.

in short, please see this film if you have any interest in a well told story with intelligent thought and especially if you love sci-fi. avoid it if you're in the mood for horror if you recognize the title as being stephen king. >
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When sci-fi envisions worse technology than the the ones present at the time
KineticSeoul29 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is a campy sci-fi horror movie that just isn't that horrifying or entertaining to watch. And despite the title, it doesn't have almost anything to do with the Stephen King's novel of the same name. As a matter of fact I was bored when I saw this flick. I gotta admit the main reason I decided to check this movie out is because of the release of the movie "Transcendence". Maybe this flick was actually really good when it came out, despite the crappy CGI even for when this movie came out. Although it's worse than Saturday morning TV shows now. The plot in this is about a scientist that believes that virtual reality is the wave for the future for human enhancement, testing it out on a mentally handicapped guy that mows lawns for a living. And it alters his brains to the point he becomes super smart and able to use telepathy, telekinesis and soon other ridiculous powers. Watching this movie was like watching "Flowers for Algernon" with virtual reality. There is parts with a Roman Catholic priest, but I still don't know why he was in this flick since it just didn't have much relevance to the plot. Who knows maybe I just missed something. I give this movie some credit for it's symbolism to represent technology as more than the means of sending and receiving information. Despite the fact that I found it ridiculous when it came to the movie's perception of technology. How the movie is pointing to the notion that we are dealing with higher dimensions that we can plug into on a mental and spiritual level and our physical bodies don't matter anymore. That people can transcend and enter into the virtual world and live forever as bits of data. Interesting idea though and I guess when it comes to the perception of technology, it's ahead of it's time because people are still trying to find the means to do that. I actually feel like trying the Oculus Rift now.

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Not even so bad so good
andycted29 March 2014
Saw this when it came out, because I was curious about the cgi and a bit about the theme. I hazily remember not being too enthusiastic about it, but the theme was at least futuristic.

I felt I had to watch it again today, especially because I was curious about why, with VR in tech news constantly, no reference was made to this "precursor".

I know why: the movie is so crap, it has no possible redeeming qualities. It actually fails so badly in most respects, on multiple layers, in a way that it doesn't even capture that feeling of "so bad, so good", like some carpenter's movie (or even a lot worse movies).

Brosnan is atrocious, like he's been in many other movies, the plot is totally lost halfway through the movie, acting from the guys in suits is so beyond insulting, it can't even be amusing, the evolution of the story and the ending feels like a bad B movie.

I'd say the only redeeming quality is the imaginative VR CGI, which today obviously looks like crap, but for the time it was a fair potpourri of pop tech ideas. Hit or Miss, but it does convey a sense of vintage tech that is actually study maybe.

Steven king proves again to be a cheap shot.

If anything, it remembered me extremely crappy movies were aplenty in the 90s too.
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When The Author Hates The Movie, Well.....Still, It Had Its Moments
ccthemovieman-112 January 2008
The film is supposedly based on a short novel by Stephen King. I say "supposedly" because when he saw what they did to his book, King demanded his name be removed from any association of this film! When an author does that, it's kind of a tip-off that someone has made a bad movie.

I also wonder if Pierce Brosnan ever looks back and winces when he recalls being the star of this film? Actually, maybe he shouldn't because it's not that bad a premise. The film is no award-winner, but it is intriguing in its originality. I mean, how many films deal with a slightly-retarded gardener who becomes an experiment with a into-your-brain video game? Jeff Fahey is pretty interesting as "the lawnmower man." Being someone who is fascinated with special-effects, I watched the film probably normally would have considering some of the bias (see below).

What I objected to - and nobody else ever seems to - is another cheap shot at a cleric, where I see in almost every Stephen King story, whether he authorizes it or not. In this movie, we see a priest let the wandering mower-man live in a little shack in back of his church, and then he whips the man! Rule number one in a King adaptation - or in the movies, in general, seems to be: always show a Christian figure as a villain. At that point, I joined King and disavowed any association with this garbage.
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Must see the uncut film to enjoy
redrum6-617 February 1999
This film once had the great master's name (Stephen King) on it, but he did right to sue them, as it has nothing to do with his story.

It is a good film all the same but you must see the uncut film to enjoy it as it is almost 40 minutes longer. There are some great efects in the film and, like always, the end leaves room for part 2 which is out now and not great. So this film is worth getting, but if you are a Stephen King fan this film is not a King movie
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Not bad, especially the second time around
gknuth17 November 2001
I saw this movie when I was 13 or 14, and didn't understand it at all. I was enamored by the visual effects. This time around, I'm 22, and have an electronics background, so I understand some of the concepts a little more. It really isn't a bad movie, it speculates what the world will become in 2001, which is obviously a little innaccurate, considering it's almost 2002, but still. The concept is completely science fiction, and, for all we know, could be a sign of things to come. Maybe not now, but in the future. It won't be as obvious as a mainframe with open I/O ports letting a purely electronic being out into the world's data networks, but it could be a precursor to some AI developments. In 50 years, people may think this movie was worthless, or they could think that it was a vision into the future.

Either way, the movie makes you think, and that is more than can be said for a lot of movies (i.e. Dude Where's My Car). Good movie. Rent it or watch it on the Sci-Fi channel.
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Worth a second look
Grant-291 November 1999
Last week I had occasion to see this movie again, and I was surprised that it wasn't as offensive as I remember. The Lawnmower man came out in 1992, the year before the Internet hit the big time. Now that these 'VR futurists' have been shown wrong (and you can tell from the interviews that they were serious), one can watch it as a fantasy, rather than science fiction. In this respect it holds up: the computer graphics are beautiful, if a little dated, and a couple of restored scenes (in the director's cut or the DVD) make the story more compelling. Perhaps VR will deliver on its promises someday; meanwhile, there's a fairly good story here.

p.s. Stay far away from the sequel. It was just plain bad.
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A man makes a movie, called "The Lawnmower Man".
Crowbait15 March 1999
It's not often one can say sincerely, "This is the worst movie I've ever seen." I thought that when I saw this film in the theatres, and seven years later it's still the champ. Basically, it's a riff off of Flowers for Algernon, except the characters are unsympathetic, the geniuses are not especially bright, and the things they do are not very interesting. When the movie came out, its sole redeeming feature was the computer graphics, which were technically impressive but not very pleasing to the eye. (That is unfortunate, given the large amount of screen time they get.) Now, of course, a $1000 home computer does a much more impressive job. The acting is bad, the pacing if awful, and there is exactly one professionally looking shot in the entire movie: a backlit shot of Fahey, as he comes over a hill. Unfortunately, the image itself was a cliche even then, and it's the most successful aspect of the movie. There is a modicum of an attempt at a suspenseful ending, via a "chase" as Dr. Frankenstein tries to prevent his monster from destroying humanity, however, if you're still watching at that point, and you're actually in suspense, then I envy you: the SECOND movie you watch in your life, whatever it happens to be, is going to be much better than this one. So, don't give up on this "movie" thing just yet.
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