Flash in the pan

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Greg Kinnear's Bob Kearns is an interesting sort of movie hero.

We root for the wronged inventor in his true-to-life David-and-Goliath battle against the big automakers who stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.

But at the same time, it's hard to feel sorry for a guy who puts his legal struggle above everything else, including his wife and six kids, for more than a decade. Not to mention somebody who turns down growing settlement offers to hold out for an actual apology.

He's not your typical movie inventor, either - those loveably wacky eggheads like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future or Rick Moranis in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. He's subdued and methodical, and a little brusque - qualities that don't seem like they'd transfer well to the big screen.

But Kinnear quietly and masterfully conveys the initial thrill of invention, the anger of realizing his idea had been stolen and the near obsession Kearns falls into as he seeks vindication.

The supporting cast is fine if a bit flat, including Lauren Graham as the wife who's as supportive as she can be and the always-leaden Dermot Mulroney as Kearns' sometime business partner. Alan Alda as a straight-talking lawyer is the one standout.

There's no doubt this is Kinnear's movie. It's a good role for him, and he makes the best of it despite first-time director Marc Abraham's less-than-urgent treatment of the story.

"Flash of Genius"

Opens Friday

Grade: B