54 user 96 critic

Flash of Genius (2008)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 3 October 2008 (USA)
2:31 | Trailer
Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.


Marc Abraham


Philip Railsback, John Seabrook (article)
1 win. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Greg Kinnear ... Bob Kearns
Tim Eddis Tim Eddis ... Maryland Cop #1
Warren Belle ... Maryland Cop #2
Karl Pruner Karl Pruner ... Pete
Bill Lake ... Scott
Dermot Mulroney ... Gil Previck
Lauren Graham ... Phyllis Kearns
Landon Norris ... Young Dennis
Shae Norris Shae Norris ... Young Kathy
Steven Woodworth Steven Woodworth ... Young Tim
Victoria Learn Victoria Learn ... Young Maureen
Dylan Authors ... Young Patrick
Ronn Sarosiak Ronn Sarosiak ... Reverend
Gavin Kuiack Gavin Kuiack ... Baby Bob Jr.
Ben Kuiak Ben Kuiak ... Baby Bob Jr.


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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Remained in theaters for only three weeks. See more »


In the beginning of the movie, when demonstrating the delay wipers in the aquarium, that all glass plastic framed aquarium was not yet developed. 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

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


References Frankenstein (1931) See more »


Tennessee Waltz
Written by Pee Wee King & Redd Stewart
Performed by Aaron Zigman
See more »

User Reviews

The little guy takes on the big corporation for recognition of his invention... Heartwarming stuff
19 March 2010 | by ajs-10See all my reviews

I really enjoy a courtroom drama and I really enjoy watching the little guy get the better of the big corporation. So I was really pleased when I came across this film, which combines the two. Set in Detroit in the 1960's, it tells of one man's battle to get recognition from a large automobile manufacturer who, he claims, stole his idea.

Bob Kearns is a college professor who teaches engineering, he's also an inventor. He is married to Phyllis and they have six children (yes, six). One day while driving his family home from church in a rainstorm, he comes up with an idea for an intermittent windscreen wiper. He designs a prototype and, with the help of his long-time friend, Gil Previck, he gets it patented. Now Bob wants to sell his idea to Ford, the largest automobile manufacturer, but he also wants to manufacture it himself. They show the idea to Ford, being very careful not to show them how it works, and they are impressed. After a meeting with one of their top managers, Macklin Tyler, and with promises of contracts, Bob eventually lets them examine his prototype. Just as he's getting ready to go into manufacturing, Ford pulls the plug and Bob is left feeling let down. This is until the day he sees a new Ford Mustang in the street with an intermittent wiper on it. He is determined to get Ford to admit they stole his idea, so much so that it affects both his marriage and mental state. I'll leave my little summary there or I'll give too much away!

A really well made film that captured the world of 1960's Detroit very well. Great performances from both Greg Kinnear as Bob Kearns and Lauren Graham as his long suffering wife Phyllis. Honourable mentions go to Dermot Mulroney as Gil Previck, Mitch Pileggi as Macklin Tyler and it was nice to see Alan Alda as the lawyer Gregory Lawson.

The first half of the film is quite slow, there's a lot of character development and I felt it ambled along a little too much. However, the second half is much better, the story really starts to take off and there is a really good ending. I really engaged with the main characters and I found it a very enjoyable film to watch. It's slightly over long, but it's one I can certainly recommend.

My score: 6.8/10

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Canada | USA


English | Spanish

Release Date:

3 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flash of Genius See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,251,075, 5 October 2008

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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