Dazzling computer animation and special effects overcome The Lawnmower Man’s mundane story.
Loosely adapted from Stephen King, story has a mentally retarded gardener’s assistant (Jeff Fahey) becoming the guinea pig for a scientist (Pierce Brosnan) experimenting with ‘virtual reality.’ The concept involves creating a computer simulation that seems real to nearly all the senses and in all directions. As Fahey’s intelligence improves, he begins to rebel against those who have been abusing him, and eventually against the relatively benign Brosnan as well.
Tale has various literary influences from Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon (Charly) to Arthur C. Clarke’s Dial F for Frankenstein. The melodramatic elements are vintage King, and they are the pic’s weakest parts. When Fahey’s powers slip over into the extra-sensory, he wreaks revenge on his tormentors, and pic’s dangerously close to Carrie territory.
The stunning visuals for the ‘virtual reality’ sequences really put The Lawnmower Man over. The computer animation doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but it marks the first time it has been so well integrated into a live-action story.
The much ballyhooed animated sex sequence is imaginative and surreal, but all too brief, providing barely enough for a subplot.