Flash of Genius

by December Lambeth on October 3, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Flash of Genius
  • IMDB: link

I’ve got to admit I was really skeptical at first, who wants to go see a movie about windshield wiper blades? I think that these real life stories are great, but should be betrayed in small indie films instead of mainstream fare. There are so many stories of “the man” and “big bad corporations” beating the little people down and somehow the little people go out on their own, representing themselves in court and win.

My question is how the hell did they get by all those years that they spent every day, all day, fighting the corporate monster? What did they live on? You never, or hardly, see them work or have a 9 to 5, so how did they make it? Was it an easier time, era?

Most of these stories are set back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, was it easier to get disability, welfare, live off the lamb? Then you have to wonder why we don’t see these stories set in today’s time? What, from the 90’s on no one can compete, we all except being beat down and simply take being walked on by corporate America?

Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear), an inventor, family man and respected professor, in the 1960s created the intermittent windshield wiper. He created a device that would be used on every car in the world; Bob and his wife Phyllis (Lauren Graham) thought they hit the American Dream until Ford took it all away.

After a sweet story of being hit in the eye with a champagne cork on his honeymoon, Bob used that moment for his Flash of Genius. He kept the thought of the way the human eye works in the back of his mind from then on out. By the time he reached his mid-thirties and six kids later it hit him like a flood, why can’t wipers work at the speed you need them to, why can’t they work like an eye lid? He stayed up all night and came up with the solution.

Taking the advice of his childhood buddy, Gil Privick (Dermot Mulroney), Bob took his creation to Ford. Leary at first he kept it at a distance, but tricked into it Bob gave up the device and started to invest his livelihood and family trust into his future. Ford backed out and left Bob broke and broken. Later, after harassing everyone he could, Bob had a breakdown and spent a short 2-months in a mental institution.

After leaving the institution and getting home, Bob stayed drugged and complacent for a short while. Then he realized that what Ford did is wrong and he wanted credit, he wanted a retraction, he wanted justice. He hired a lawyer and went after Ford, but wasn’t happy with a small portion of the pot, he wanted to truth and he wanted the public to know it.

The law firm dropped him and he trucked on. His wife left him took the kids and he buried all his energy into researching patent laws, court rulings and fought to get his case heard. Finally getting his day in court Bob and his son faced the monster corporation. Twice Ford came at him with an offer, up to 30 million, but he refused. All Bob wanted was the truth and he wasn’t going to quit till he got it.

Flash of Genius is well told and tastefully done. However, with that said, if Greg Kinnear would not have been the lead, then the film might have suffered. It helped that he kept a light edge to his character and did an awesome job of adding just enough body language, facial expression and humor to his role. I would say he became Dr. Bob Kearns and truly brought him to life, made him intriguing and interesting to watch.

I really enjoyed the film, after all it is about the everyday guy standing up to the assholes who push us around like chess pieces.

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