Flash of Genius (2008) Poster

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Great film - sad story
bjones5 October 2008
It was great to see Greg Kinnear in another flawless performance; here as Dr. Bob Kearns, inventor and professor. To me, I think of Mr. Kinnear as sort of the cocker spaniel of American actors. Perfectly companionable for just about everyone. He just feels right in so many roles it's hard to imagine anyone else having done them. This is another instance of his having added immeasurably to what may have otherwise been a more uninteresting character. After all, it's hard to imagine anyone making an engineer or professor seem interesting; but in this outing Kinnear certainly accomplishes that.

Adding her own note of quiet grace and perfect screen presence, Lauren Graham as Phyllis Kearns gives her character both charm and great heart, not to mention that she looks better in a plain white nightgown that just about anyone I've seen... well, except for my wife, of course.

There are other great performances here too, like Mitch Pileggi as the bad guy from any corporation in America, Tim Kelleher as his greasier side-kick and Dermot Mulroney as a slightly smarmy friend of Kearnes'. Likewise the hoard of young actors playing the Kearns children added a perfect familial note to the vehicle.

But, more than any of these fine people, the focal point here was the story as it always is in these social consciousness melodramas. Yes, Virginia. The wheels of American industry is greased with the bones of the cheated and betrayed genius of America. That is so universally true it's a well known sub-plot to all of America's engineers and manufacturers. What is also well known is what happens when they try to find justice, let alone an iota of truth; which is so accurately and skillfully portrayed in this film.

Speaking as an engineer who has worked in American industry for over 40 years, I can say that I have seen this more times than I can count. It goes on every day right here under your noses, America, and no one ever does a thing to change the way America fails to protect her fragile genius. That is deliberately so. That is so because the laws America uses to define how these things are handled are made by lawyers, for lawyers. It would cease to be profitable if the laws were crafted to actually protect it's most precious resource - it's creative people. But it's not; the laws are instead crafted to provide fat and frequent paychecks to every leach that slithers through the "halls of justice".

Just as Kearns did, I had to learn the hard way that justice in America belongs only to those with a fat enough wallet to buy it through the local outlet. If you don't have the six figures to hire a lawyer then you have no rights and no freedom in this country. Like a Wildebeest grazing blissfully in the middle of the herd, you have only not been awakened to that fact yet because no one has yet decided to attack you, or steal from you.

This has been the long way around to tell you that the creators of the film got it exactly right, with one serious flaw... for every Bob Kearns who has eviscerated themselves to win a Pyrrhic victory of the sort we witness here, there have been thousands who have given up for being too shallow in pocket or too short of mental fortitude or too short of the desire for self-flagellation required to press through to an empty, moral victory.

And even here, we see unmistakably that this "victory" costs Kearns what he valued most in his life. He didn't even live to see himself depicted as "heroic" in this fine film.

Still, thank you Bob, wherever you are.
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It's About Giving Credit To The Right Person For The Effort And Hardwork
Chrysanthepop26 May 2009
I, for one, strongly oppose any kind of plagiarism because nobody has the right to steal someone else's work and claim it to be theirs. 'Flash of Genius' tells the heartbreaking story of inventer Dr. Kearns. While windshield wipers may sound like a small thing that hardly many give consideration to (as Kearns's friends have told him), it's not a matter of the object at hand but the effort that went behind it and why should credit go to somebody else? I admire Kearns for putting up a fight and keeping up the battle for justice and even though it cost him his family, he fought to the end. I'm surprised as to how little recognition 'Flash of Genius' received considering that the story is extremely relevant even for today's world.

The director does a splendid job in telling this moving story. Greg Kinnear delivers a heartfelt lowkeyed performance which is among one of the best of his career. Unfortunately, he remains an underrated actor but I hope he keeps making the wise film choices and gets his due soon. Lauren Graham is wonderfully restrained and marvelous but she's risking getting typecast (she's played supportive wife in two other recent movies 'Evan Almighty' and 'Birds of America'). Dermot Mulroney too stands out as Privick.

Where the technical department is concerned, the director has used a lot of subtlety with the cinematography, soundtrack and visuals. It is only later that we realize what an important symbol rain is in this movie. The washed out colour adds to the tense, stressful and sad atmosphere. 'Flash of Genius' is definitely a worthy watch not only because it tells an engaging story but a very relevant one.
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You Gotta Give The Underdog It's Due
Seamus282919 October 2008
You just got to hand it to Greg Kinnear. He has certainly put all of himself in every role he has undertaken. From the host of E Entertainment's 'Talk Soup', onto such film roles as 'Little Miss Sunshine','Auto Focus' & this fine film. Kinnear plays a downtrodden Joe Sixpack from the suburbs, with his wife & six children. Here he is an engineering professor who has re-invented the windshield wiper (or did he just upgrade it?), only to have his idea stolen by Ford Motors. After 12 years of struggle that includes a nervous breakdown & the melt down of his marriage, he finally has his day in court. Does he emerge the victorious? I won't kiss & tell. This is a quiet,understated little film that deserved far better than it got. Alan Alda also shines as his attorney that tries to go to bat for him. This is one of those films that (hopefully)will have a second chance when it gets released on DVD. Slapped a PG-13 by the MPAA for some salty language,a moment of sensuality & some rather erratic behavior,due to a nervous breakdown.
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Good interesting movie
nuhc17 November 2008
This is another true David & Goliath story which pits a home inventor, Bob Kearns, who develops a working intermittent windshield wiper control, against the Ford Motor Company who stole his idea after he demonstrated it to them. The strain is at times too much for Kearns who eventually suffers a mental breakdown, but comes back to take on Ford in a monumental lawsuit despite the strains on his marriage & family.

While a lot of people probably won't be interested in true life stories like this, I enjoy them and did enjoy this movie. The acting is good, and since the story is set in the 1960's & 1970's, you really get a feel for that era. It's worth a watch.
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Is it Possible.. a Great movie without Sex and Violence??
chaitov4 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot believe how much I enjoyed this movie! There was NEVER a moment when I felt bored,uninterested,or confused about the plot.It is based on the true story of Dr.Bob Kearns from Detroit Michigan.

The casting,I felt was perfect and Greg Kinnear definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance as Dr.Bob Kearns, an engineer and inventor. His wife,played by Phyllis Graham,was the typical wife of the 50's. And her performance was also top notch..not over or underacted, but right on cue. I absolutely loved the clothes, decor and cars of that era..really brings back memories..the little blue "frigidaire", "mixmaster", and chrome kitchen set along with the rotary phones,and huge "boat cars."(we would call them that) Life seemed so simple then. Mom stayed home and looked after the kids, cooked,and took care of her husband while dad brought home the "bacon."

But things changed when Dr. Kearns stubbornly refused to give up his pursuit of justice when he felt he had been wronged by Ford Motor Company. The script is excellent and performances great. Even Alan Alda played the lawyer part very believable. I saw the movie a couple of hours ago and still feel so "Up' having finally seen a movie with No special effects,No digitalization,No remake, but just a GOOD,GOOD STORY that happens to be true.

Although Dr.Kearns died in 2005, he definitely made the case for following your instincts and seeking the truth.We CAN fight city hall and all the money in the world will not make up for that vindication, even though it is a tough road with many losses by the wayside.

Listen,if you are tired of all the Superhero,Violent,Sex-driven,and Mind-Numbing Stupid movies out today,this is a very refreshing change, and All Ages will appreciate the solid entertainment and heart-warming storytelling! Digital is great but a good storyline is something we can all relate to for sure!!
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Flags for a bit, but concludes beautifully
dfranzen705 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Flash of Genius is the true story of the man who invented the intermittent wiper blade - only to see the Ford Mother company swipe the invention for their own benefit. But of course, this being a Hollywood film, the little guy fights back against the big, mean corporation, losing his family, wife, and sanity in the process.

Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear) is an engineering professor who comes up with the idea of the intermittent blade while driving his family - wife and six kids - home from church one rainy afternoon. He puts together a prototype and shops it to Ford, which quickly warms to the idea. Then suddenly changes its mind, saying it’s just not ready. And then double-plus suddenly, there are all these Ford cars on the road with those very same wiper blades. This is probably not a coincidence.

What follows is your standard David/Goliath courtroom drama, without the courtroom (save for the finale). Bob fights back against Ford, but no one, not even high-powered attorney Alan Alda, really wants to help. Worse still, Bob doesn’t even want a cash settlement, he wants an apology from Ford, an acknowledgment that they stole his awesome idea. This might surprise you, but they decline to do so.

On the one hand, this is a straightforward story about the little buy fighting back against all odds, taking on the big automakers at a time when the Big Three reigned supreme. After all, Ford has all the time in the world to devote to defending itself against Kearns’ claims, whereas Bob has to scrimp and hope he can make some headway; they can outlast him as surely as a rock can outlast a summer storm. They have resources, and all he has is his devoted family.

Well, not so much. Devoted to a point, perhaps. The strain of the legal battles soon take their toll on Bob and his wife, Phyllis (Lauren Graham), as well as the various kids. Which brings us to the second, even more important, conflict in this story, that between Bob and Everyone Who Means Something To Him.

This is an innocuous, slight movie; it doesn’t grab you so much as kind of pull you along reluctantly, until the final, courtroom scene. The rule for courtroom dramas seems to be this: If the protagonist has been built up sufficiently but the audience does NOT tear up when the inevitable verdict is read, then the movie is a failure. I mean, it’s really not complicated. If there’s no payoff, then everything leading up to that point has been for naught, so everyone involved has to pull off that final scene. The nice thing is that pulling off that scene, otherwise known as manipulating the audience, is pretty elementary, high-school stuff. It’s tough to mess it up.

And they don’t. True to form, that final scene makes up for all the methodical pacing of the other 90 minutes or so. Kinnear’s earnest and well cast, and Graham is a delight as his doting, no-nonsense wife. Alda’s showy role doesn’t really amount to much at all, contrary to what the trailer showed. But all in all, it’s a well done, if somewhat forgettable, movie.
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Simplistic but Gratifying
two-cents5 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A beautiful story of honor, ethics, hard work and the American Dream. I believe the true story was a bit more complex; read somewhere that Kerns had at one time 12 lawsuits going simultaneously and several law firms on them. And I think his mental health problems were sanitized in the film. Nevertheless, the thread of maintaining integrity comes through in this film. And as far as being a true story, I wonder what role his victory has had for victories we occasionally read about today. (probably too few that end in victory but at least some do make it). Kerns certainly gave hope to many, and it seemed like the American justice system worked back then.

The film is interesting. It lacks the usual Hollywood melodrama--which I was glad some plot twists that I thought were so predictable did NOT turn out to happen, and it lacks the pace of fast action, special effects and sex. All of which contribute to a quieter, more thoughtful, and ultimately more touching film. It stayed with me throughout the next day.

I highly recommend it, for reasons of believing in what we were and what we can become again....maybe.
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David v. Goliath
crownek21 August 2009
I cherish this movie; a lot of this is for personal reasons. The film is well done; Greg Kinnear really impressed me with this and little miss sunshine.

I am a sales guy who sells to big companies. I recently gave ford a free education in a service we offer, and it took so much evangalizing, repetition, re-explanation and hitting them over the head. I was astonished that a business this big didn't have smarter people.

Then, when we gave them our price and offer, they said "no thanks were going to build this in house rather than use you".........I felt a visceral connections to Bob Kearns.

Suddenly, Ford is an expert on this. I would talk to anyone who would listen, and I put my blood into helping them improve their business. I have a new opinion of the buying and technology that Ford uses to run its operations. One of the reasons they might be the "least screwed up" of the auto makers" is their soul-less way of getting companies on their knees, and then kicking them down when you cry "uncle" for them.

Sorry for blabbing. It just hurts to know we really wanted to help them , and help us make a buck in the process. And we were treated like dogs.
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Needs more inventiveness . . .
jdesando4 October 2008
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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More than a 'flash' of Greatness!
Greatornot5 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was the proverbial big bad corporation taking advantage of a little guys talents. Excellently acted by all. I especially enjoyed the supporting acting in this film as much as the headliner actors. Alan Alda had a minor role as an attorney but he was excellent. This movie was about an idealistic guy that cared more about his place in history than anything else in the world. His ideals may or may not be misplaced. He seemed to care more about what is right but neglecting his family in the process. He was obsessed with an invention that was stolen from him by Ford originally and other manufacturers shortly after. I liked Greg Kinnear in this role and thought he was his finest. Truth be told , none of us know how we would feel, what our price would be if someone stole any one of our ideas. I , for one, would not judge Robert Kearns. As the years dragged on he seemed to show more appreciation toward his family , perhaps realizing they are worth more than anything. Thus, still pursuing his dream of going down in history as the inventor of Intermittent Windshield Wipers. All in all , the movie was a great experience and one I highly recommend. I know Intermittent Wipers are about as sexy as say an ice tray... but give the movie a try. It is highly informative and entertaining.
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Well acted and executed, but slightly mundane.
toniintc31 July 2008
Saw the very first showing of this tonight at the Traverse City Film Festival. It was a good movie and Greg Kinnear was very good. The film felt too restricted and hyper focused on the primary movie subject, Bob Kearns. It could have been made better by infusing a bit of side-story from the conflicting characters points of view. Bob Kearns low point in the movie also seemed to happen abruptly with no run-in to the plot twist, so much so that I felt like I missed something. Lauren Graham offered a fine performance, as did Dermot Mulroney's limited screen time. Overall I liked the movie but felt more could have been done to fill some gaps.
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Every Law Student Should Be Required To See This Film Before Graduating!
liberalgems13 October 2008
This is absolutely the best movie I have seen, so far, this year! I sincerely hope Flash of Genius gets a few Academy Awards! But one thing is for certain! People will be watching this powerful film a 100 years from now! It's that good!

When I left the theater and reached the safety of my car, I sobbed uncontrollably! Why? The reason is simple! I can identify with what Dr. Kearns went through, having had a somewhat similar gut-wrenching experience as a whistleblower.

I really don't think most people can begin to understand what it is like to stand up for one's honor and to confront a powerful institution, such as a huge transnational corporation, (or in my case a government agency) - no matter what the personal cost.

Making matters even more difficult is that many politicians with a conservative bent love to turn the issue of litigation awards into a political football! Oh, how rich and powerful institutions are the "victims" of shady lawyers and questionable plaintiffs, they cry! But what these unethical politicians don't tell you is the mind-boggling amount of work that goes into preparing your case before you can even find a lawyer willing to take it! Or, that no matter how serious the injury, there's no guarantee your case will ever see the light of day!

This true story is also about love & family! Dr. Kearns is so fortunate to have such wonderful children. It's amazing how much can be accomplished when a human being gets emotional and logistical support from those he loves! Ultimately, I think that's the bottom line, here!
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Admirable For Scientific Information
orglit15 November 2008
One of the outstanding virtues of this movie is the didactic sections, informing audiences a little about electrical circuits without interrupting the story. Inventor Bob Kearns and, later, an attorney representing Ford Motor Co. both talk about capacitors and resistors lightly. It enables lay folk to get a peek inside their electrical and electronic devices, even to "spark" curiosity in some viewers. Some of our general fiction literature but our general fiction films rarely are didactic about science, even though they have the capacity to teach--one thinks of John Steinbeck, of Herman Melville before him, and of some contemporary novelists, too.
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flash of Hollywoodization
aenthal14 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Though this is passed off as a true story, the details are so changed from reality that the only real thing left are the "blinking eye" wiper blades and the names of the characters and car companies. Dennis Kearnes was a far more unlikable, obsessed, and dramatic person than this movie lets on. Most glaringly fictitious is his David against Goliath legal fight against the big bad corporation, where he is portrayed as representing himself all alone (with the legal clerking of his kids). It isn't true. He WAS represented by lawyers in his suit against Ford Motor Company. Google his REAL life and you will find a colorful nut case, who could have made a great biographical figure. But he couldn't make a sympathetic figure. So Hollywood sweetened him up, taking away the drama and conflict to make him a hero for the plot. Just like you know when you see a movie about the Titanic, that the ship will sink in the end, there is no suspense to the court trial (last third of the movie). There would have been no movie if he lost the case.
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"Solid" is probably the nicest thing you can say about it
bob the moo29 March 2009
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.
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" It isn't so much they wanted to steal my invention, they wanted my life as well "
thinker169110 November 2009
Time after time, Anerican audiences have stood witness to the fact Inventors have created and continue to create some of the most important breakthroughs in history. As a result, America has become the Land of Opportunity for any young inventor to make his mark in history. However, there are those in high position who believe they are so powerful, they can reach out and steal anything they want with total impunity. This movie is a case in point. The worthy film is called a " Flash of Genius. " It is essentially the story of Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear) a college professor who in a moment of inspiration, invents a wind shield wiper with an oscillating program. A top executive of the Ford Motor company ( Mitch Pileggi) tries to plays the professor for a fool and disregarding the little man, steals his patents. Though it will take money, time, effort and patience to fight the industrial giant, Kearns risks all to fight for what he believes is the right thing to do. Alan Alda plays a wimp of a lawyer and tries to convince Kearns to take a tiny settlement and give up the fight. Despite the risk of losing his wife, his family and even his sanity, Kearns is determined and creates a wonderful David vs Goliath story. Highly recommended to anyone who believe in fighting with the best weapon of all; the truth. ****
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"Flash of Genius" Movie Review
manny-971 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The issue of ethics is front and center in "Flash of Genius," a film about one man who sacrifices everything for his principles. Based on real-life events, the movie is a strong morality play grounded by the performance of Greg Kinnear.

Kinnear stars as inventor Robert Kearns, a passionate thinker, a loving husband and father, and a dedicated university professor. Aided by his wife, Phyllis (Lauren Graham from the TV show "Gilmore Girls") and their six kids, Kearns invents the intermittent windshield wiper – a device that would eventually be used by every car in the world.

Helping Kearns in his patent application is family friend Gil Previck (Dermot Mulroney). They develop the revolutionary product and market it to Ford Motor Company. The automotive giant embraces Kearns' invention at first, but unceremoniously takes his creation and rejects the man behind it.

Now, the stage is set for a David vs. Goliath story that will take decades before finding resolution. Kearns, who's been ignored and threatened by Ford, seeks counsel from attorney Gregory Lawson (the scene-stealing Alan Alda). Lawson is able to get some compensation for Kearns, but our fierce inventor does not want money – he wants Ford to apologize for his family's sufferings.

Veteran producer Mark Abraham ("Air Force One," "Thirteen Days") tries his hands at directing for the first time. When I interviewed him and asked about his career change, Abraham said, "I've always wanted to direct this David and Goliath story since I heard about it years ago." Based on the New Yorker article by John Seabrook, "Flash of Genius" is ably directed. The film flows and does not drag on, which I find very surprising because most biopic have tendencies to heighten the melodrama quotient of their real-life subjects.

That doesn't mean that screenwriter Philip Railsback ("The Stars Fell on Henrietta") avoided feel-good clichés. There are some moments, especially the family scenes, where you feel the script is trying mightily hard to tug at your heartstrings.

Kinnear succeeds in injecting humanity to the character. You may not agree with Kearns and his principles, but you will certainly share his triumph when he brings Goliath to his knees.

"I was attracted by the character," Kinnear says about his motivation for playing Kearns. "He's not heroic like other man against corporation movies; he struck me as a very human guy." That human guy and his well-told fight against the big machine are the reasons why I'm recommending this movie. You may wince at the idea of a film about the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, but you will stand up and cheer when his principles are finally honored. And for that, "Flash of Genius" gets 3 Genius Kisses
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Absolutely Amazing, be prepared for an emotional roller coaster!
dpaq1 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the Premier of Flash of Genius tonight... I don't know what I was really expecting, but the emotions this movie takes the viewer on are wild.

It's a common David vs. Goliath type movie, and it shows that a huge corporation will do everything in it's power to stomp on the little man. What is so emotional is the length one man goes to for something he invented. He sacrificed his family (marriage and all) to prove he was wronged, and ultimately, won. (But with a very high cost) I don't know about anyone else, but I don't think I will buy a Ford anytime in the future.

I think a best actor nomination is deserved beyond a doubt. Greg Kinnear has proved what an amazing actor he truly is.
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Sometimes Victory Comes At A High Price
sddavis6313 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When it was over, my gut reaction to this movie was one of sadness. Yes, in many ways it was inspiring. It's nice to see the little guy (in this case, Dr. Robert Kearns, played by Greg Kinnear) come out on top. Whenever you see a David vs. Goliath story it's always nice to see David win. But at what price? The scene in this movie that really sticks with me has little to do with victory. It comes at the end. Kearns has won his court case and been awarded over $10 million from the Ford Motor Company after a jury ruled that Ford had stolen his idea for an intermittent windshield wiper. It should be a time for a grand celebration. But the journey has been a long one and a hard one. It cost Kearns his wife and almost his family. He reconciled with his children, but in that haunting scene, his ex-wife (whom he did love, and who did love him) congratulates him on having achieved everything he wanted and then simply walks down the halls of the courthouse, leaving him behind. His obsession with victory over his marriage made a reconciliation impossible. Director Marc Abraham filmed that perfectly, and got the point across: Kearns won - and he won a lot - but he also lost - and he lost big time. The whole movie, to me, builds up to that question - at what price victory? How much should we be willing to sacrifice to win - even if the victory is an important one, a serious matter of principle? Is there a point at which we should decide that the price of victory is just too high, or was Vince Lombardi right - "winning isn't everything - it's the only thing!"

Frankly, this isn't an exciting movie. It isn't going to lift you out of your seats at any point. The courtroom scenes don't have any "You can't handle the truth!" dramatic revelations or admissions. It's actually pretty simple and straightforward; some might even call it dull at times. But this isn't a movie that you watch for excitement. It's a thought provoking movie. It's a movie about principles and values. It's a movie that makes you wonder just how far you would go to fight for what's right, even if you had to give up the most important thing in the world to do it. I'm not saying Kearns was right or wrong. He answered those questions for himself. I'm just not sure that I would have answered them in the same way. But a movie that raises such a thought provoking issue - even if it isn't the most exciting movie you'll ever see - is worth at least a 7/10.
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Better on TV then in cinema.
neacorp25 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'm an inventor and an engineer at hart and wanted to see this movie as addition to my experience.

Did you know Robert Kearns died in 2005 before seeing this movie? If you did some background search about him, the movie will be different. Yes, it will be the same "David vs. Goliath" but you will see a different David. So you might want to see this movie twice and stop reading revues NOW.

Yes, he wins in the end. Hollywood won't make a movie where David looses in the end. The story of inventing the intermittent wiper in 1953 was great, but a tad long. In my opinion there were too many scenes to make Robert more compassionate before we get the actual trial. His family life is shown mostly from Roberts perspective alone. At some brief points I did believe the entire world was against him. But the lawsuit itself is short for an "epic" fight. And the ending wasn't really an ending - he got a lot more cash after that.

Everyone's acting is good for a history reenactment. Tim Kelleher looks like dramatic Jim Carrey at some angle in this movie. Nicely edited to see on TV if it ever comes out.

OK, now about the story that follows and THIS is the part where you STOP reading if you haven't seen the movie yet.


Robert Kearns is listed as #3 in "7 People Who Never Gave Up (But Absolutely Should Have)". See the phrase for more info on that, but I'll tell it short. He was crazy, probably partly because of the propaganda lifestyle at the times. He set his primary goal to get justice, like some superhero, that he was THE inventor. Though he won, he lost his family in the process. And after that he set ALL his cash into (are you ready?) more lawsuits. Yep, he didn't invest the money, nor did he retire. He went for the name of THE inventor of intermittent wiper. It wasn't ever about the money. He became his own lawyer AFTER the Ford trial. In 1991, a federal judge dismissed all his outstanding lawsuits because Kearns' patents had expired. Kearns retired to a big house in the country to devote himself to a new hobby: trying to reclaim his patents.

His craziness wasn't a mental breakdown – it was his way of life. Knowing this you will not see a man with some problems, you will see some crazy guy going for god knows what and slowly loosing his family in the process. Good thing he died in 2005 or he would have used this film for his crusade. A crazy David vs. Goliath? Now that's an interesting movie.
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Ellen Kimball Reviews: Flash of Genius for KGW.com
Radio_Lady6 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There's an old expression that states, "It's not the money, it's the principle of the thing." Robert Kearns fought for that ideal for more than three decades of his life.

"Flash of Genius" – presumably an expression inventors use to explain the moment of genesis of an idea – is the true story of Detroit engineer and inventor Bob Kearns. On his wedding night, he had an unfortunate accident. He was removing the cork from a bottle of celebratory champagne. The cork flew up and hit him in his left eye. The resultant scene was bloody but somehow prophetic – Bob Kearns came out of that incident legally blind in one eye.

His marriage survived and the man went on to father six children. Meanwhile, Kearns was keenly sensitive to the workings of the human eye. Kearns observed the pattern of the blink and he had a fascinating revelation. Kearns postulated that our brains introduce a discontinuous pattern whenever the eyes blink – quickening and slowing as necessary.

While driving in the Michigan rain, he observed that the windshield wipers on vehicles of that era only had two positions: ON and OFF. Quite often, the wipers ran too swiftly for light rainfalls, and too slowly for downpours.

Their marriage was affected deeply by his tinkering and the aftermath of the invention process. It was a single-minded effort that eventually took over Kearns' entire life. At one point, it brought him to the edge of madness. Kearns swept aside his involvement with his loving wife, Phyllis, and his six young children as he became more and more obsessed with designing and marketing a windshield wiper that paused during its sweeping motion, as the eye pauses during blinking. By rearranging the already-existing mechanical and electrical circuitry, Kearns invented and patented the "Blinking Eye" windshield wiper. His goal was to manufacture these wipers and sell them to the automotive companies.

At the time, the behemoth Ford Motor Company engineers had already begun their own investigations into concocting an intermittent wiper system. Kearns was invited to show off his invention and given a Ford car on which to install it. Initially, the game plan appeared to be that a Kearns family business would indeed be born and Kearns would realize his dream.

That, however, was not to be. This movie documents what followed when the Ford Motor Company suddenly quashed its deal with Kearns, and surreptitiously began installing its own version of the intermittent wiper. What follows is the courageous but truly demented tale of how Kearns' was left with a single life purpose -- to get the Ford Motor Company to acknowledge they stole his idea – his greatest work. It may only have been a windshield wiper system to others, but to him, it was a work of art on par with the "Mona Lisa."

First-time director and former producer Marc Abraham read the original story by John Seabrook in the New Yorker magazine and decided to make it into a movie. A script by Phillip Railsback followed. Eventually, actor Greg Kinnear received a copy with the unlikely working title of "Window Washer Man." Kinnear quipped on TV last week that the property sat on his desk for months while he avoided reading it, thinking it would involve some kind of a caped superhero with a squeegee!

I thought the movie was profound but some moviegoers might also find it quite grim. Anyone who has had dealings with large corporations knows the scope of their unyielding grasp – you just have to look at modern companies and trace their history. Some have met their demise because of poor decisions. However, I don't believe it is "bad karma" that finds the large automakers in difficult straits these days.

My impression is that Greg Kinnear has never had a better part and I honestly hope he will be noticed for it. He has already won the Best Actor Award at Boston's Film Festival. Actress Lauren Graham plays Kearns' long-suffering wife Phyllis, and Dermot Mulroney (with a mane of dark hair over his forehead) is fine as a duplicitous and self-serving partner named Gil Privick. Alan Alda has a small but significant role as Kearns' lawyer Gregory Lawson. The various young actors who play Kearns' children at different ages were quite natural and believable.

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada stands in for Detroit, Michigan in this film. Visiting family members from the Detroit area told me there is a lot of recent film activity in Michigan. Unfortunately, this movie was apparently not part of a trend that is said to be bringing films back to US locations. As a reviewer, I support that completely.

I give this movie a "B+" on Ellen's Entertainment Report Card.

Universal Pictures Official Website: http://www.flashofgenius.net/

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Runtime: USA:119 min Country: USA Language: English
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tedg7 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
There are all sorts of fabulous interminglings between film and life. At a general level, I study these things.

But when "life" is meant in the sense of historical truth, and the film purports to represent that, then the examination gets a bit boring. Okay, so we have a movie where Napoleon went somewhere that we know he did not; does it matter? Sometimes we take "life" as fictitious life, so when Heathcliff does something not in Bronte's words we rebel.

Well, here we have an ordinary movie: a triumph of the will of a little guy who earns the justice he deserves. Superficially, we follow along dutifully. We have the requisite big bad corporation who serves as the life-smashing inevitable. It plods along and we are released into the light with a relatively poor feel-good movie. Okay. Another way to fill an empty life.

But the problem that this movie has, is that it is about innovation. That sets it apart from the similarly offensive "Erin Brockovich" and "The Insider."

Here is the story. I will tell you so you do not have to see the movie. College professor and mechanical engineer in Detroit gets an idea for what we now call an intermittent windshield wiper. Ford steals his idea and he toils through court at substantial cost and gets a huge reward.

One problem with this story is that it is not true, not the facts anyway. He did make an electrically controlled windshield wiper which allowed intermittence and several speed settings. The second of these was what he originally thought was useful. At the time, all wipers were driven by the vacuum created by the engine and were not controllable. Small electric motors were common but just becoming feasible from a cost and reliability perspective.

Ford had working electric wipers for decades before. Everyone did. Once you do that, many sorts of speed and frequency issues are manageable. I know of a project that was to coordinate the wipers with the beat of the music over your radio. The radio, by the way was the reason for modernizing the electrical system in cars so they could shift many controls over that way.

What Kearns did was what had already been done before and documented. Moreover, it was trivial. He submitted a patent which was granted and then several subsequent ones. These were granted too, since the patent examiner did not have access to internal documents from the car companies. When shown copious documentation, the patents were revoked. Kearns soldiered on, delusional. What paid off what that delusion. The real story was not that goodness was rewarded, but that nuisanced craziness was.

Which brings us to the reflective part of the comment: the movie is like the event. It pretends to be useful, novel and true, presents itself as worthy. But it is fake, derivative, a copy, a theft from something done somewhere by someone who really did invent.

Don't reward this nuisance by watching it.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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A Very Decent and Underrated Movie
dancemacabre20 March 2009
I started to watch this movie after a hit Seven Pound, with a Will Smith in main role. That movie was so bored and predictable for me and I decided to watch Flash Of Genius with Greg Kinnear. I haven't know anything about this movie and in few minutes I've been noticed that this work is ten times better than the popular Seven Pounds. FOG has only 1,500 votes on IMDb and SP has a 35 000 votes. OMG, Flash Of genius is so damn underrated movie. It isn't bored, it very good directed and interesting and almost better than similar movie A Beautiful Mind. But in this movie role of Greg Kinnear isn't that genius as Russel Crowe role but he isn't also crazy and schizophrenic as Crowe role. FOG has no pathetic music and in some scenes is heart touching and enjoyable and I must say Greg Kinnear is very god actor in this role - he perfectly fit into family man who has invented a car viper, but soon Ford Company stole his invent. Greg is so depressed by that act so his starting to work on court trial. I was so happy he get lawsuit on his side and get a lots of money for his family.

What can I say more? This movie is very good in my opinion and I have no complaint to it. For those who don't know, this movie is a based on actual events in the 1940's. I give it a 9/10 because it deserves fully. Don't miss this, you won't regret it for sure.
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It's well made, but Greg Kinnear's character is incredibly hard to root for.
callanvass22 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Flash Of Genius was almost unbearable to watch, due to how selfish and relentlessly stupid Bob Kearns was. Yes it's a great performance, yes the acting is good, But who would deprive there family of what they need or a huge amount of cash just to get recognized? I mean sometimes you know when it's enough. I felt Kearns deserved his fate, due to his selfish actions, and everything else, even if he was right.

Bottom line. Flash of Genius is a well made movie, but a torturous experience to sit through. They build him up as an underdog, but they don't realize how awfully annoying Bob Kearns truly was. If you really wanna see for yourself, go ahead it's a well made movie, but be prepared to be yelling and screaming due to Kearn's selfishness and stubborn actions.

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If its a Hollywood movie, you never get the whole story
Ajtlawyer29 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Flash of Genius" tells the story of the travails of Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent window wiper and his battle against Ford Motor Co. which swiped his invention without compensating him.

The story's told in a workmanlike way and Greg Kinnear does a good job as Kearns although much of the time it's hard to root for Kearns. He comes across as obsessive, he's abrasive, thinks that reading some law books makes him a lawyer, etc. He is justifiably upset that Ford has taken his invention and used it without compensating him but the man lets his obsession with justice ruin his life.

As usual, a movie takes liberty with the real story. Kearns represents himself in the Ford lawsuit although in real life he had lawyers represent him. He represented himself in his later suit with Chrysler and in many other suits (many of which he lost because he wouldn't/couldn't comply with court procedures).

What does he win though at the end of this movie? He gets about $10 million, but you don't know that he was actually suing for nearly $400 million. The audience doesn't realize that the jury's verdict didn't say that Ford had deliberately stolen his patents but that they had more or less accidentally infringed on his patent. He still won, but not the apology that he always wanted from Ford. Also, before the final arguments and verdict, the Ford representative goes to him and offers him $30 million to drop the whole thing. Nope, Kearns and his children are going for broke---and instead of getting $30 million as a settlement he gets $10 million, no apology from Ford and even the jury doesn't say that Ford stole his ideas. In truth? Kearns comes across as an arrogant chump who gets in way, way, way over his head and thinks he's won something when in fact he really hasn't.
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