Saturday, September 5, 2009
Flash of Genius. B-
I would have liked 'Flash of Genius' more if it had had not taken such an orthodox approach with the story. It's a respectable piece of work, but when looked upon closely, is nothing we haven't seen before. People will be attracted to the movie by the unusual subject matter: Robert Kearns, and his battle against the Ford Motors company for stealing his invention of the intermittent windshield wiper. Greg Kinnear, who has been great in such comedies as 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Ghost Town,' takes a dramatic turn as Kearns and does a superb job. He's helped by strong support from Lauren Graham as his wife and Alan Alda as a sleek attorney. The movie is essentially told in two parts: one, when Kearns is a happy man, and two, when Kearns is a sad a desperate man. Obviously the former segment is caused by Ford's thievery of his invention. The movie begins nicely, as Kearns, a family man, decides to invent a pair of automatic windshield wipers. It would have been nice if the movie had gone a little deeper into how he actually does it, but it's intriguing nonetheless. Then when his idea is taken, the movie becomes another David and Goliath story, as Kearns fights against all odds to get his name by his invention. "It's not about money," he says. "It's about right and wrong." You can see exactly what's coming once Kearns enters court, and we are disappointed because the movie went the formulaic, easy route instead of creating something truly inventive and creative. Hollywood picked up the right ingredients, but they just hired the wrong cook.