Thursday, October 15, 2020

THE LAWNMOWER MAN (1992) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 14
Total First Time Views: 7
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $998.48

The Lawnmower Man (1992) d. Brett Leonard (UK/USA) (108 min) (2nd viewing)

Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) is a brilliant scientist obsessed with perfecting virtual reality software. When his experiments on animals fail, he finds the ideal substitute: Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey), a slow-witted gardener. Dr. Angelo's goal is to benefit his human guinea pig and ultimately mankind itself, but evil lurks the guise of "the Shop," a shadowy group that seeks to use the technology to create an invincible war machine. When the experiments change the simple Jobe into a superhuman being, the stage is set for a Jekyll-and-Hyde struggle for the control of Jobe's mind and the future of the world.

Originally billed as “based on a story by Stephen King” (before he filed a lawsuit to have his “credit” removed), this is less the brainchild of the bestselling author and more an update of Daniel Keyes’ novel Flowers for Algernon where a mentally deficient subject is enhanced by science to the point of genius and consequently becomes a menace to himself and everyone around him. Unfortunately, the script by Leonard and co-writer/producer Gimel Everett (who had previously teamed on much-beloved cult classic The Dead Pit) sports supremely tin-eared dialogue and the plotting boggy and sloggy, taking a seemingly interminable time getting to its not-surprising-in-the-least conclusion.

The groundbreaking special effects did in fact represent the high-water mark for computer-generated dazzlement in their time, but speaking as someone who was there, they were just as cheesy and ho-hum then as now. Without taking anything away from the technicians and their command of zeros and ones, it’s still just a tool and this particular tool is in service of a construction project with a shaky foundation.

To quote Tropic Thunder, “You never go full retard,” and it’s too bad that no one thought to tell that to Fahey or Leonard beforehand. In fact, in early scenes, Fahey’s Jobe (what is with the silent “e” anyway? It’s “Job,” people. It’s a Biblical name. Work with me here.) is a dead ringer for Ben Stiller’s Simple Jack character with his bleached blonde clown hair – one has to wonder if there was some inspiration going on here. Brosnan on the other hand should have been perfectly cast as the driven scientist but makes the mistake of being wildly emotional instead of coolly clinical – it’s a performance that goes all over the place and never in a good way.

There are numerous other familiar faces that pop up, the most welcome of which is Near Dark’s Jenny Wright as a sexpot widow who seduces Jobe only to end up his puppet once his brain catches up with his brawn. Also on hand is Geoffrey Lewis rendering a “jolly ol’ Irishman” accent for no good reason whatsoever.

What’s astonishing to discover is that Leonard’s original cut – presented here courtesy of Shout! Factory’s Collectors Edition release – was actually 142 minutes long. If there’s one thing I can’t imagine helping this dumbed-down morality tale’s cause is MORE of anything. I mean, we’ve seen this story a million time, folks – scientist messes with things best left alone, creates monster, monster runs amok, popcorn gets thrown, roll credits. What The Lawnmower Man really needs most is a closer trim. (Get it?)


DISC ONE – Theatrical Cut

NEW 4K Scan of the Interpositive
NEW Cybergod: Creating The Lawnmower Man – Featuring Interviews with Co-Writer/Director Brett Leonard, actor Jeff Fahey, editor Alan Baumgarten, Make-up Effects Artist Michael Deak and Special Effects Coordinator Frank Ceglia (51 min)
Audio Commentary with writer/director Brett Leonard and writer/producer Gimel Everett
Deleted Scenes (27 min)
Original Electronic Press Kit with Cast Interviews and Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Edited Animated Sequences (4 min)
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot

DISC TWO – Director's Cut

NEW 4K Scan Of The Interpositive With Additional "Director's Cut" Footage from the Original Camera Negative
Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Brett Leonard and Writer/Producer Gimel Everett
Conceptual Art And Design Sketches
Behind-The-Scenes And Production Stills
Storyboard Comparison

The Lawnmower Man is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:

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