The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 science fiction horror film directed by Brett Leonard, written by Leonard and Gimel Everett, and starring Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith, a retarded gardener, and Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Angelo, a scientist who decides to experiment on him in an effort to give him greater intelligence. The experiments give Jobe superhuman abilities, but enhance his aggression, turning him into a man obsessed with evolving into a digital being.
This film was adapted from an original screenplay entitled “CyberGod”. The title comes from a 1975 short story by Stephen King. Both stories involved a gardener who operates a lawnmower, but the film has little similarity to King’s story, which involves a satyr who makes human sacrifices to the Greek god Pan. Originally titled Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man, King successfully sued to have his name removed from the credits. He won further damages when his name was included in the title of the home video release.
Dr. Lawrence Angelo works for Virtual Space Industries and runs experiments using psychoactive drugs and virtual reality to enhance cognitive performance, using chimpanzees as test subjects, in an experiment labeled “Project 5”. Angelo has benevolent aims, but VSI is funded by “The Shop”, a clandestine group hoping to find military applications for Angelo’s research. One of the chimpanzees, gifted with new intelligence, warfare training, and increased aggression, escapes.
Angelo consequently decides to recruit simpleton gardener Jobe Smith as a test subject, telling the man he will become smarter. Angelo redesigns the intelligence-boosting treatments to remove the “aggression factors” used in the chimpanzee experiments. Jobe’s intelligence is enhanced and he develops psychokinesis and telepathy. He continues training at the lab until an accident forces Angelo to abort the experiment.