World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Lawnmower Man (film)

Article Id: WHEBN0000672934
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Lawnmower Man (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Brett Leonard, The Mangler 2, Austin O'Brien, Virtual reality, List of adaptations of works by Stephen King
Collection: 1990S Action Films, 1990S Science Fiction Films, 1992 Films, 1992 Horror Films, American Films, American Independent Films, American Science Fiction Action Films, American Science Fiction Horror Films, Cyberpunk Films, English-Language Films, Films About Computing, Films About Technological Impact, Films About Telepresence, Films About Virtual Reality, Films Based on Works by Stephen King, Films Directed by Brett Leonard, Films Set in California, New Line Cinema Films, Techno-Thriller Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Lawnmower Man (film)

The Lawnmower Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brett Leonard
Produced by Gimel Everett
Screenplay by Brett Leonard
Gimel Everett
Based on The Lawnmower Man
by Stephen King
Starring Jeff Fahey
Pierce Brosnan
Jenny Wright
Geoffrey Lewis
Jeremy Slate
Dean Norris
Austin O'Brien
Music by Dan Wyman
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Edited by Alan Baumgarten
Lisa Bromwell (unrated director's cut)
Allied Vision
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • March 6, 1992 (1992-03-06)
Running time
103 minutes
141 minutes (unrated director's cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $32,100,816 (US)

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 American science fiction action horror film directed by Brett Leonard and written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett. The film is named after a Stephen King short story of the same name, but aside from a single scene, the stories are unrelated. The film stars Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith, a simple-minded gardener, and Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence Angelo, the scientist who decides to experiment on him.

The film was originally titled Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man, but King successfully sued the producers for attaching his name to the film and stated in court documents that the film "bore no meaningful resemblance" to his story.[1] An earlier short film, also titled "The Lawnmower Man", is a more faithful adaptation of the short story. It was directed by Jim Gonis in 1987.[2]

After the success of The Lawnmower Man, Leonard would later make another virtual reality film called Virtuosity starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in 1995.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
    • Box office 4.1
  • Sequel and other media 5
  • Home media 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Dr. Lawrence Angelo works for Virtual Space Industries, running experiments in increasing the intelligence of chimpanzees using drugs and virtual reality. One of the chimps escapes using the warfare tactics he was being trained for. Dr. Angelo is generally a pacifist, who would rather explore the intelligence-enhancing potential of his research without applying it for military purposes.

Jobe Smith, a local greenskeeper with an intellectual disability, lives in the garden shed owned by the local priest, Father Francis McKeen. McKeen's brother, Terry, is a local landscape gardener and employs Jobe to help him with odd jobs. Father McKeen punishes the challenged Jobe with a belt whenever he fails to complete his chores.

Dr. Angelo realizes he needs a human subject to work with, and he spots Jobe mowing his lawn. Peter Parkette, Dr. Angelo's young neighbor, is friends with Jobe. Dr. Angelo invites both of them over to play some virtual reality games. Learning more about Jobe, Angelo persuades him to participate in his experiments, letting him know it will make him smarter. Jobe agrees and begins the program. Dr. Angelo makes it a point to redesign all the intelligence-boosting treatments without the "aggression factors" used in the chimpanzee experiments.

Jobe soon becomes smarter, for example, learning Latin in only two hours. Meanwhile Jobe also begins a sexual relationship with a young rich widow, Marnie. However, Jobe begins to display telepathic abilities and have hallucinations. He continues training at the lab, until an accident makes Dr. Angelo shut the program down. The project director, Sebastian Timms, employed by a mysterious agency known as The Shop, keeps tabs on the progress of the experiment, and discreetly swaps Dr. Angelo's new medications with the old Project 5 supply (reintroducing the "aggression factors" into the treatment).

Jobe develops telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers and takes Marnie to the lab to make love to her while in virtual reality. Something goes wrong in the simulation when Jobe's virtual avatar becomes violent, attacking her mind directly; Marnie is driven insane, laughing endlessly at nothing.

Jobe's powers continue to grow, but the treatments are also affecting his mental stability, and he decides to exact revenge on those who abused him when he was "dumb": Father McKeen is engulfed in flames, a bully named Jake is put into a catatonic state by a mental "lawnmower man" continually mowing his brain, and a lawnmower invention of Jobe's runs down Harold, Peter's abusive father. Jobe uses his telepathic abilities to make the investigating police attribute it all to "bizarre accidents" in front of Dr. Angelo.

Jobe believes his final stage of evolution is to become "pure energy" in the VSI computer mainframe, and from there reach into all the systems of the world. He promises his "birth" will be signaled by every telephone on the planet ringing simultaneously. The Shop sends a team to capture Jobe, but they are ineffective against his abilities and he scatters their molecules. Jobe uses the lab equipment to enter the mainframe computer, abandoning his body to become a wholly virtual being, leaving his body behind like a husk.

Dr. Angelo remotely infects the VSI computer, encrypting all of the links to the outside world, trapping Jobe in the mainframe. As Jobe searches for an unencrypted network connection, Dr. Angelo primes bombs to destroy the building. Feeling responsible for what has happened to Jobe, Angelo then joins him in virtual reality to try to reason with him. Jobe overpowers and crucifies him, then continues to search for a network connection. Peter runs into the building; Jobe still cares for him and allows Dr. Angelo to go free in order to rescue Peter. Jobe forces a computer-connected lock to open, allowing Peter and Dr. Angelo to escape. Jobe escapes through a back door before the building is destroyed in multiple explosions.

Back at home with Peter, Dr. Angelo and Peter's mother Carla (who has become a romantic interest) are about to leave when their telephone rings, followed by the noise of a second, and then hundreds of telephones ring, all around the globe.



The plot of Stephen King's 1975 short story "The Lawnmower Man" concerns Harold Parkette, who hires "Pastoral Greenery and Outdoor Services Inc." to cut his lawn. The serviceman who arrives to do the job has a lawnmower that mows the lawn by itself while he crawls, naked, behind the mower, eating the grass. The serviceman himself is actually a satyr who worships the Greek god Pan. When Parkette tries to call the police, the mower and its owner ritually kill him as a sacrifice to Pan.

The film's original script, written by director Brett Leonard and producer Gimel Everett, was titled Cyber God and had nothing to do with King's short story. New Line Cinema held the film rights to King's story, and decided to combine Cyber God with some minor elements of King's "The Lawnmower Man". The resulting film, originally titled Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man, differed so much from the source material that King sued the filmmakers to remove his name from the title.

After two court rulings in King's favor, New Line still did not comply and initially released the home video version as Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man. A third ruling granted the author $10,000 per day in compensation and all profits derived from sales until his name was removed.[3][4] On King's official website, the film is not listed among the films based on his work. The Lawnmower Man was released in Japan under the title Virtual Wars; Fuji Creative's Masao Takiyama is also credited as a co-producer.

References to the short story include the scene where Jobe kills Peter's father with the lawnmower "Big Red", the aftermath in which the police state that they found some of his remains in the birdbath, and the name of Terry McKeen's company, Pastoral Greenery.

The film has several elements in common with the 1959 Daniel Keyes novel Flowers for Algernon, which also deals with a mentally disabled man whose intelligence is technologically boosted to genius levels.[5]

The computer-generated imagery (CGI) was created for the film by Angel Studios,[6] who later became Rockstar San Diego, and Xaos Inc. The supervising sound editor was Frank Serafine, who was hired as a result of his sound creation work in the 1982 film Tron.

Some of the computer-generated scenes were used in Beyond the Mind's Eye, a video in the Mind's Eye series.


The film garnered mostly mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 34 reviews with the consensus: "The Lawnmower Man suffers from a predictable, melodramatic script, and its once-groundbreaking visual effects look dated today".

Box office

The movie debuted at #2 at the box office with $7.7 million in its opening weekend behind Wayne's World.[7][8] It went on to gross $32.1 million domestically, making it a moderate financial success against its $10 million budget.

Sequel and other media

A sequel Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace was released in 1996. It was retitled Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War for its video release. The film received negative reviews from critics and fans of the first movie.

This film had spawned two video games, The Lawnmower Man in 1993 and Cyberwar in 1994.

Comic book writer Grant Morrison said in an interview[9] that he was contacted by the owners of the Lawnmower Man franchise in 1995 and asked to write treatments for Lawnmower Man 2 and Lawnmower Man 3. Morrison claims he was asked to "bend the Lawnmower Man series in an X-Men superhero-type direction." Neither of Morrison's script treatments were used and Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace was produced without his involvement.

Almost all of the CG footage of The Lawnmower Man were featured in Beyond the Mind's Eye.

Home media

The assumed theatrical version of the film was initially released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1992, with an unrated director's cut, shown in theaters on VHS and Laserdisc shortly afterwards. It was the success of the unrated version that alerted King to New Line's continued defiance of the order that his name be stricken from the film's credits and all marketing for it. It would take a third court order to force the studio's compliance. As before, the court upheld the two prior judgments, but it took the extra step of imposing a penalty of $10,000 directly payable to King for every day New Line remained in contempt by defying the order. Additionally, the studio would have to forfeit all profits earned on the film during that same period.

The DVD, released in December 1997, contains only the cut assumed to be theatrical cut, with scenes from the unrated edition, being presented on the DVD as merely deleted scenes.

The director's cut was released on DVD on October 25, 2010 in the United Kingdom.[10]

As of 2014, Blu-ray versions of the film are still only available in Italy through Minerva Pictures[11] and in Germany under the Alive brand.[12] The Italian release contains edited Italian credits at the beginning, which are taken from the DVD version as you can clearly see the difference in quality with the rest of the movie (interlaced framing notably).

See also


  1. ^ "Stephen King suing producers", The Prescott Courier, 29 May 1992. retrieved on April 18, 2010
  2. ^ The Lawnmower Man at
  3. ^ Jones, Stephen. Creepshows: the Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide, Titan Books, 2001, pp. 75.
  4. ^
  5. ^ " 
  6. ^ "Ultra 64 'Dream Team'".  
  7. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (1992-03-17). "'"On the Ropes Columbia Execs Under Fire Over Costly Flops 'Gladiator,' 'Radio Flyer.  
  8. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-03-10). "Weekend Box Office 'Lawnmower Man' Cuts the Mustard". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  9. ^ Grant Morrison interview at
  10. ^ The Lawnmower Man Director’s Cut at
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.