Flash of Genius

(2008) ** 1/2 Pg-13
120 min. Universal Pictures. Director: Marc Abraham. Cast: Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Alan Alda, Jake Abel, Bill Smitrovich.

/content/films/3233/2.jpgThe little guy battles corporate malfeasance in Flash of Genius, based on the true story of Robert Kearns. Kearns was the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, and despite the precautions he took with his patented invention, he found himself left out in the cold as Ford reneged on their promises and apparently stole his technology without properly acknowledging or compensating him. Greg Kinnear plays Kearns with the sincerity, edginess, and ordinary American charm of Jimmy Stewart circa 1960. Philip Railsback’s script hews closely to the meat and potatoes of John Seabrook’s fascinating New Yorker article “The Flash of Genius” though the film simplifies the intellectual muddle into a somewhat less fascinating good versus evil morality tale. Unfortunately, the film’s editing creates a confusing chronology and awkward pace, but it’s easy to see why producers saw a satisfying audience experience in Kearns’ moral crusade.

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