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Flash of Genius

138 customer reviews

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(Feb 17, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Academy Award nominee Greg Kinnear stars in this inspiring true story about an ordinary man and his extraordinary fight against one of the most powerful corporations in the country. Dr. Robert Kearns (Kinnear) and his family are on their way to achieving the American Dream when he invents a device that can be used in every car in the world. But when an auto giant steals his idea, Robert does the unthinkable: He takes on the corporate titan in a battle nobody thinks he can win. Co-starring Alan Alda, Dermot Mulroney and Lauren Graham, it’s the remarkable, feel-good journey critics are calling “hugely entertaining!” (Pete Hammond,

In the early-1990s, Greg Kinnear was just another amiable talk show host. After As Good As It Gets, however, Kinnear confirmed he could act. If Flash of Genius isn't as harrowing as the Bob Crane biopic Auto-Focus, Kinnear digs just as deep to play a man possessed, in this case taking on Bob Kearns, a Detroit physics professor who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. Supported by his wife (Lauren Graham) and best friend (Dermot Mulroney, making the most of an underwritten part), Kearns aims to align himself with a Motor City auto maker to manufacture his device. Ford expresses interest, so Kearns secures a warehouse, but it all falls apart when they abruptly pull the plug. Then he finds out that they've added automatic wipers to their latest line. Though he patented his invention, the company denies they're using his blueprint, so Kearns takes them to court, a process that drags on for three decades. Meanwhile, his support system starts to collapse as Kearns loses interest in everything except the credit he feels he deserves. If the film succumbs to some of the pitfalls of the genre, i.e. the win-lose-win structure, producer-turned-director Marc Abraham never paint Kearns as too much of a hero. Through the inventor's brilliance, the world's streets are safer, but his tenacity also drove away some of those he held most dear. Hence, Flash of Genius serves as an inspirational story, a cautionary tale, and the perfect opportunity for Kinnear to make a potentially off-putting character sympathetic. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Stills from Flash of Genius (Click for larger image)


Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Marc Abraham
  • Feature Commentary with Director Marc Abraham

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, Alan Alda, Bill Smitrovich
    • Directors: Marc Abraham
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Dubbed: Spanish
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
    • Run Time: 120 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B001LM64S8
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,900 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Flash of Genius" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pandolfi on October 8, 2008
    Format: Theatrical Release
    I don't know how accurately "Flash of Genius" portrays the real Robert Kearns. If he was anything like Greg Kinnear's representation, he may be one of the most relatable people I know of. In the film, Kearns is passionate, determined, stubborn, and cursed with a one-track mind. He was a college engineering professor and an independent inventor with an absolute sense of right and wrong, and because the Ford Motor Company wrongs him, he puts all his energy into making it right. We may not all be inventors, but I think it's safe to say that most of us understand why he does what he does, and that's because we've all been passionate about something. This isn't to say that we can completely side with him; as admirable as his intentions are, he ends up neglecting his wife, his children, and his job, and he unfairly drags his family through a twelve-year legal nightmare. One wonder whether or not the journey was worth it.

    The Kearns character is the lifeblood of "Flash of Genius." He holds everything together, and that's because the filmmakers develop him far more than any other character. This was done on purpose, I suspect. This is his dream, his effort, his obsession--everyone else is either along for the ride or left standing at the curb. The film's structure is just as narrow-minded as Kearns is, which will be problematic if you want a story that develops all of its characters. I wasn't bothered by it, and that's because I wanted to see things from his perspective. I wanted to understand why he believed so strongly when others didn't. I wanted to be convinced that he was doing the right thing by fighting a gigantic corporation that ripped off his windshield wiper design.
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    43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Danny G. on October 13, 2008
    Format: Theatrical Release
    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!

    See: Patent Law Essentials: A Concise Guide Second Edition, and A Civil Action/The Insider
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Yee on April 21, 2009
    Format: DVD
    Despite my aversion to trite David-and-Goliath stories that end with a courtroom battle, I was drawn to the idea of an extraordinary tale behind an ordinary object (in this case, the intermittent windshield wiper). In the film, there is a line to the effect of "A new invention doesn't have to consist of new parts. It just has to arrange those parts into a new pattern." Under that definition, I wouldn't consider this movie a new invention, but it's certainly an old invention done very well. Greg Kinnear is captivating in his first leading dramatic role (that I can think of, at least). After "The Matador" and "Little Miss Sunshine," he's quickly becoming one of the great "everyman" actors.

    I admire how the film doesn't shy away from the fact that Kearns's obsession cost him his family, his mind, and a good chunk of his life. What he did was undoubtedly courageous, but the movie doesn't really decide whether it was right or wrong. Is integrity and truth more important than family? Should you stand up for yourself even if it means pushing away the ones you love? I don't know the answers. It's this thought-provoking dilemma that sets the film slightly apart from others of its type.

    Bottom line: Unoriginal and formulaic, but well-made, well-acted, and even a little provocative.

    Richard Yee, author of Deliveries: A Collection
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David R. Eastwood on October 16, 2009
    Format: DVD
    FLASH OF GENIUS is a based-on-fact film that presents one more instance of a big company stealing from a lone inventor. Perhaps you already know how Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio, was ripped off? Or Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television?

    Usually big companies are able to get away with their thefts. Their executives and employees are often willing to lie, they can afford lawyers who can tie cases up in court for decades, and sometimes they can even buy congressional support. Remember what disastrous things happened to Preston Tucker in Francis Ford Coppola's TUCKER: THE MAN AND THE DREAM starring Jeff Bridges?

    In this film, in an unusual turn of events, the little guy wins. Bob Kearns (played earnestly by Greg Kinnear) is a college physics professor who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, demonstrated it to Ford Motors (who agreed to let him supply his new wiper to them)--and then found they were manufacturing intermittent wipers for themselves using his design.

    After years of frustration, heartbreak, and battles with Ford Motors, Kearns earns a heartwarming victory in court--but at great cost to himself and to his family. This is a film that will simultaneously fill you with admiration for the little guy--and disgust for the unethical behavior of money-hungry business executives.
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