Flash of Genius (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  3 October 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 13,868 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 45 user | 98 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Eddis ...
Maryland Cop #1
Maryland Cop #2
Karl Pruner ...
Landon Norris ...
Shae Norris ...
Steven Woodworth ...
Victoria Learn ...
Ronn Sarosiak ...
Gavin Kuiack ...
Ben Kuiak ...


Based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns' long battle with the U.S. automobile industry, Flash of Genius tells the tale of one man whose fight to receive recognition for his ingenuity would come at a heavy price. But this determined engineer refused to be silenced, and he took on the corporate titans in a battle that nobody thought he could win. The Kearns were a typical 1960s Detroit family, trying to live their version of the American Dream. Local university professor Bob married teacher Phyllis and, by their mid-thirties, had six kids who brought them a hectic but satisfying Midwestern existence. When Bob invents a device that would eventually be used by every car in the world, the Kearns think they have struck gold. But their aspirations are dashed after the auto giants who embraced Bob's creation unceremoniously shunned the man who invented it. Ignored, threatened and then buried in years of litigation, Bob is haunted by what was done to ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They had the power. He had the truth. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

3 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un éclair de génie  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,251,075 (USA) (3 October 2008)


$4,234,040 (USA) (17 October 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Kearns received many offers from Hollywood for his story over the years but he rejected them all as he didn't trust anyone enough to tell his story properly. Eventually he was won over by Marc Abraham's passion and his promise to keep to the facts as much as possible. The family provided documentation, photographs, home movies and anecdotes, while eldest son Dennis - now a lawyer - represented the family's interests. All in all, the process of getting the Kearns story up onto the big screen took 9 years. See more »


The 1969 Lincoln Mark III he drives to Ford, with the invention installed, had variable-speed hydraulic wiper motors running off the power steering pump. They were used on Mark IIIs and Thunderbirds because Mercedes used them, and they were very quiet. It wasn't until the 1972 models that they had electric intermittent wipers on them. See more »


Bob Kearns: Whatever happened to this little thing called justice we talked about?
Gregory Lawson: This is justice, Bob. This is how justice is dispensed in this country - with checkbooks. There are no brass bands, you know, there are no ticker tape parades, the mayor doesn't give you the key to the city and call you a hero. You get a check, and that check makes the lives of you and your family a little easier... a little more pleasant. It's that simple.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There's a typo in the end credits, listing Bill Smitrovich as 'Bill Smitrovitch', although his name is spelled correctly in the main cast credits. See more »


References Frankenstein (1931) See more »


Green Onions
Written by Steve Cropper, Al Jackson Jr., Booker T. Jones & Lewie Steinberg
Performed by Booker T. & the M.G.s (as Booker T. and The MG's)
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film and TV Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Solid" is probably the nicest thing you can say about it
29 March 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

OK, so, on paper you must confess that any film that dramatises anything involving windscreen-wipers runs the risk of being pretty darn dull. But then at the same time maybe it is one of those films that sounds dull but is actually thrilling by way of drawing the viewer into the subject. When you thing about it, ignoring the part of the car that it involves, this story of the little man put down by a heartless corporation is pretty well timed with the strength of feeling towards our economic ruling class nowadays. So maybe Flash of Genius could ride that wave and deliver an impacting and uplifting story of overcoming at the same time – full of tension and emotion. Well, yes, I guess it "could" but the question is "does it?"

Unfortunately the answer to that is "no" and at best the film could be described as "solid". Contrary to my preconception the film is not dull because of the subject or because it gives lots of detail on engineering but rather because it seems to drag everything out and offer the viewer very little reason to care. It doesn't appear to focus on forward motion because if there is an opportunity to go over old ground or get into a rut then you best believe that it takes it. It is not a grind though, don't get me wrong, it is not a bad film, but just one that seems happy to do very little other than the basics. The courtroom scenes are where it should have come to life but even these fail to thrill or engage – OK they are there and they are "fine" for what they are but how am I the viewer supposed to be excited by what I am watching if the film itself seems all very underwhelmed by it.

I won't say that the cast are the problem but they are certainly part of it. Kinnear tries to deliver the character with real emotion in a way that will draw sympathy from the audience but his drab performance and repetitive delivery is part of the film being slowed down and not allowed to fizz. Graham doesn't help because she is part of this aspect of his character. In fairness she is quite lively and real but she cannot lift the film when the rest of it seems so intent on being average and sluggish. Alda turns up to offer the viewer hope as he enters the film with his custom delivery and energy, having several good scenes before disappearing again. Pileggi is a good solid "baddie" in the corporate sense and perhaps it would have helped to have allowed him more room to play with his character. Sadly none of the cast really gets to do this other than Kinnear, who has to take his scenes down into "despair" in a way that deadens the film and robs it of pace. Perhaps this is an accurate telling of the story but in this case it comes at a price and that price is the film's effectiveness and entertainment value.

This leaves Flash of Genius as a film that is far too worthy for its own good. It plays like a solid TVM and it certainly offered me nothing to justify why it was in the cinema with me when at best it was a DVD release. It has little in the way of drama or tension to it and it is hard to emotionally buy into the film in the way I needed to be able to in order to stick with it. If "solid" is what you are after then this is an OK film but the only remarkable thing about it is just how unremarkable, sluggish and frankly dull the whole thing is.

13 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
I stopped watching the movie after the scene... blam_web
Intermittent wipers are useless aland-16
Karma is a bitch. mtgentry81
100 Things I learned from Flash of Genius paschel-jd
Reminds me of what Edison did to Nikola Tesla.... Roadghost69
Modern car in the background..lawl danat86
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