Flash of Genius
Based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns’ (Greg Kinnear) 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 (Lauren Graham) 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 his family and their future. He becomes a man obsessed with justice and the conviction that his life’s work–or for that matter, anyone’s work–be acknowledged by those who stood to benefit. And while paying the toll for refusing to compromise his dignity, this everyday David will try the unthinkable: to bring Goliath to his knees.
Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear) is a likable man in the beginning of the movie. He is a good husband and father, and he is quite intelligent to boot, as he is a university professor. One day he comes up with an idea for an intermittent windshield wiper. He presents the idea to a major car manufacturer (hint: think Detroit, Michigan) and his future seems bright. Then he doesn’t hear back from them for a time. The next thing he knows they use his idea and he is given no credit. The credit means more to him than money, and he goes after them. At the same time his obsession puts a serious strain on his marriage.
Kinnear is quite good in playing this complex man, who is likable yet who becomes limited in his vision when he is wronged. The film deals with themes such as putting your family first or leaving them in the background, dealing with an injustice, and how decisions have repercussions. The film is based on a true story and the picture is well made. Unfortunately, it is the language which dooms this movie from receiving our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal. It is possible some young kids wouldn’t have enjoyed this story as much as older children and their parents, but still, it is sad that a few strong words had to ruin what could have been a good experience for movie-going families who are careful about what they watch and hear.