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Flash of Genius (2008)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 3 October 2008 (USA)
2:31 | Trailer

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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


Based on a true story. 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 »


As the Kearns family is proposing a toast in the diner (celebrating his invention), you can see a white 2008 Acura pulling out of the garage across the street. 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.
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Crazy Credits

Today there are over 145 million automobiles on the road with the Intermittent Windshield Wiper. See more »


References Frankenstein (1931) See more »


Praise to the Lord, The Almighty, The King of Creation
Public Domain
Performed by Marlowe Brass Ensemble and St. George's Chapel Choir, Windsor
Courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source/Q
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Needs more inventiveness . . .
4 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Just imagine over 30 years ago inventing something as useful as the intermittent windshield wiper, a device everyone uses when it rains. Now that's immortality for inventor Bob Kearns, professor and engineer.

What is more astonishing is he was almost forgotten after the Ford Motor Company usurped the design and promoted it as its own. The dramatic tension is Kearns' fight for recognition involving years of personal and familial losses. The two moments of inspiration, the "flash of genius," one a personal eye injury and the other driving in the driving rain, are dramatically satisfying if not downright underplayed (appealing to my minimalist sensibilities).

The film is exciting when Kearns is developing the device with those design inspiration moments fleshed out and the partnering with Ford slowly materializing. The film slows down as if in a school zone when at least a third of the Kearns' time is spent struggling with wife Phyllis Kearns (Lauren Graham) over the cost to them in time and trauma to go after Ford. The dutiful wife suffering the ambitious husband has been played in American cinema and theater too much to be fresh, no different here. The scenes with family, especially his wife, evoke my usual response: All right, already, I get the point. Now get on to the good stuff.

Similarly, Kinnear plays Kearns so low key as to be soporific. Although I don't doubt Kearns was an introverted geek, a dramatic rendition would have enlivened the character without compromising his essence.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Karma is a bitch. mtgentry81
Intermittent wipers are useless aland-16
Engineer's must have been idiots back then aland-16
Reminds me of what Edison did to Nikola Tesla.... Roadghost69
100 Things I learned from Flash of Genius paschel-jd
Modern car in the background..lawl danat86
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