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Flash of Genius

4.4 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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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, Hollywood.com)


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 (141 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B001LM64S8
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,105 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Flash of Genius" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    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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    2 Comments 28 of 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    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
    28 Comments 43 of 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    If you build it, they will steal it. No "Field of Dreams" for Dr. Bob Kearns. Most people are unfamiliar with the case involving the "intermittent wiper" or may have heard of the settlement when it took place. Some law students may be familiar if their professor discussed this one along with the mandatory McDonald's hot coffee. Suffice it to say this is an interesting story if you like to see David taking on the giant. Here Ford is the giant and Dr. Kearns plays David. Kearns patented the first "working" intermittent wiper, but Ford thought they could claim they made it after seeing his working model because they built all the parts. This is as much or more about the impact the drawn out case has on Kearn's family as anything. Sometimes getting justice does not mean getting a happy ending. Great drama. Good quality DVD with good replayability. If you enjoyed this catch "Tucker".

    CA Luster
    Comment 3 of 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    In this case, the movie promos might have truly said "Kinnear IS Kearns." Greg Kinnear turns in a wonderfully nuanced performance in the role of Robert Kearns, the man who battled the Ford Motor establishment in order to gain recognition as the rightful inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. He shows himself to be both heroic and stubborn - a good family man and frustratingly oblivious to those closest to him - intelligent and obtuse. All this at once. Kinnear embodies all these contradictions, without appearing to "act."

    Then the scenes used to dramatize Kearns' struggle are well chosen. His legal embroilment spanned more than a decade. Only a small fraction of his confrontations could be dramatized. But the film doesn't feel episodic. The years interlock neatly, without giving the viewer a sense of being yanked abruptly from one incident to another.

    Nevertheless, the DVD was somewhat difficult to watch on my TV. For some reason, possibly to achieve some arty chiaroscuro effect, a lot of the action must have been shot through heavy ocher filters. Most of the time, the main characters' faces appear indistinct, half eclipsed in deep shadow against almost totally blackened backgrounds. In scenes where there are groups of onlookers, such as the jury listening to Kearns plead his own patent case in court - the faces of these jurors come across as slightly smudged, glowing thumbprints.

    Actually, this sort of obscurantism has become common in films. But "Flash of Genius" presents a particularly irritating use of the technique, because it isn't a thriller or a mystery calling for some menace to be only half-seen, only guessed at as it creeps up on its victims.
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