|Movie: Flash of Genius * IMDB Page||In Theaters: Oct. 17, 2008|
|Runtime: 99 minutes||Directed by: Marc Abraham|
|MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language||Gecko Rating:|
Under tight security, I had the opportunity to screen this film at the Traverse City Film Festival today. The official theatrical release isn’t until Oct. 17, 2008, so we were pretty excited to be the first to see it.
Because of that, though, the balcony at Lars Hockstad Auditorium was closed off, and anyone with even a hint of a cell phone light was told they’d be ushered from the venue. Piracy issues are a Really Big Deal, and I think everyone was on their best behavior to show that we could handle early premieres such as this one. Hopefully, they’ll be a regular event at the Traverse City Film Festival.
Based on a true story, Flash of Genius chronicles the events which led Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear) to sue the Ford Motor Company in the 1960s. At the time, there were no intermittent windshield wipers we all take for granted now, which meant either turning them on and off manually or putting up with that annoying drag on the windshield.
So Bob, both an inventor and an engineering professor at a local university in Detroit, figures out how to create one. He and his friend, Gil Privick (Dermot Mulroney), take the idea to Ford, who leads them to believe they’ll buy all the units that Bob can manufacture. Bob thinks he’s struck gold, since he and wife Phyllis (Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls) have six kids to support.
But once Ford gets their hands on the invention, they steal the idea and tell Bob to take a hike. He becomes obsessed with justice, and after going through a couple of attorneys, including Gregory Lawson (Alan Alda, who gets better with age and still has that Hawkeye sparkle in his eyes), Bob decides to do the unthinkable — represent himself and take the case to trial. In the process, he loses just about everything he holds dear, but he can’t bring himself to give up the fight. He won’t stop until Ford admits their thievery.
I’ve always been a huge Greg Kinnear fan, and he does not disappoint in this role. He has this every-man quality that makes you want to stand up and cheer for him. And I love movies where the regular joes take on the corporate giants, despite massive odds.
Graham, Mulroney, and Alda are commendable in their supporting roles, but this movie is really all about Kinnear.
The kids are also excellent, especially Jake Abel as the teenaged Dennis Kearns. Keep your eye on him.
Watch the trailer:
Images: Flash of Genius, Universal Studios, 2008