Kerry Hayes

Flash of Genius

Movie Details
type
Movie
Genre
October 03, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

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?

Flash of Genius

type
Movie
Genre
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
120 minutes
director
Studio
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Flash of Genius

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