Flash of Genius The true-story premise of Flash of Genius peddles inspiration in our time of giant, bullying corporations and despairing little guys: A despairing little guy takes… Flash of Genius The true-story premise of Flash of Genius peddles inspiration in our time of giant, bullying corporations and despairing little guys: A despairing little guy takes… 2008-10-03 PG-13 PT120M Drama Lauren Graham Greg Kinnear Alan Alda Dermot Mulroney Universal
Movie Review

Flash of Genius (2008)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
BOOK SMART Little guy Greg Kinnear takes on the big corporations in Flash of Genius
Image credit: Kerry Hayes
BOOK SMART Little guy Greg Kinnear takes on the big corporations in Flash of Genius
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Release Date: Oct 03, 2008; Rated: PG-13; Length: 120 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Lauren Graham and Greg Kinnear; Distributor: Universal

The true-story premise of Flash of Genius peddles inspiration in our time of giant, bullying corporations and despairing little guys: A despairing little guy takes on a giant, bullying corporation for patent infringement and wins. (Oops, did I give away the ending? Sue me.) Played with becoming mildness by Greg Kinnear, Robert Kearns was an engineering professor at a Michigan college who devised the intermittent windshield wiper — the mechanism that allows the driver to adjust the interval between blade swipes. After patenting his plans, he shopped them to the Ford Motor Company without reaching a licensing agreement, and later determined that Ford had stolen his invention. Kearns' Bleak House-obsessive pursuit of justice — in which he sometimes acted as his own counsel — took 12 years. (The real Kearns, who died in 2005 at the age of 77, sued General Motors and Chrysler, too.)

The individual components of director Marc Abraham's David-and-Goliath drama are roundly unexceptional; the script, soft and teach-y; the performances, earnest (including Alan Alda as a fair-weather lawyer who bails on the case). But that hardly matters. The product is concept, not execution, and the delivery techniques bear standard Hollywood patents. B–

Originally posted Oct 01, 2008 Published in issue #1015 Oct 10, 2008 Order article reprints