The Lawnmower Man (Brett Leonard, 1992, UK/Japan/USA)

The Lawnmower Man (1992) is noteworthy for being the first and only Stephen King adaptation that the author was able to successfully remove his name. Supposedly New Line studio head Robert Shaye acquired the rights for King's short story "The Lawnmower Man" at the height of King mania. Given the nature of the story, a feature-length adaptation was deemed impossible. Shaye tasked Brett Leonard to turn a spec script named "Cybergod" into The Lawnmower Man, keeping only a scene of someone getting attacked by a lawnmower. The rest of the film bears no resemblance to King's story, a fact which King was able to successfully argue in court.

So how does the film hold up, despite having nothing to do with King? The Lawnmower Man is a batsh*t crazy cyberpunk film that thematically predated a lot of the themes that would be covered in The Matrix almost ten years later. The plot involves a scientist named Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) who uses virtual reality to make a simple lawn man named Job (Jeff Fahey) a super genius. This Frankenstein story gets out of hand as Job becomes a dangerous maniac intent on leaving his physical being and becoming a cybergod.

The Lawnmower Man was a decent theatrical success in 1992, becoming the highest-grossing independent feature of that year. Leonard's ideas are interesting, and while the execution is extremely flawed and much of the writing is bad, The Lawnmower Man is among the most interesting "bad" Stephen King adaptations. While the CGI is bad by today's standards, the film held the record for the most CGI footage in a feature film up until 1995's Toy Story. The film even had multiple computer and console games inspired by it, not to mention tee shirts at local malls. An interesting curio in the King universe.



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