Greg Kinnear (centre) gets to display flashes of Oscar clips.
FLASH OF GENIUS (Marc Abraham). 119 minutes. Opens Friday (October 3). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Flash Of Genius is the directorial debut of veteran producer Marc Abraham, who's worked on movies as diverse as The Hurricane and Children Of Men; unfortunately, he's borrowed more from his experiences with the former than the latter.
The result is a plodding, thumpingly obvious gloss on the decade-long efforts of Dr. Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear), inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, to be properly acknowledged for his efforts after Ford cheated him out of the money and the credit.
No disrespect to Kearns's ethics - which are depicted here as a simple desire to be named as the guy who came up with the idea and got it to work - but Abraham and screenwriter Philip Railsback seem to know they're working with an historical footnote here.
In order to pump Kearns's story up to heroic-martyr level, Abraham cranks up the cheap sentiment and the stirring musical score - every scene is framed as a possible trailer moment or awards-show clip - and Kinnear obliges by swinging for the fences on every take.
Kinnear's never been much of a fence-swinger, though. In movies like Auto Focus, The Matador and even Ghost Town, he's best when he's dialing it down rather than bigging it up. Here, it's like he's replicating Russell Crowe's showboating mania in A Beautiful Mind, practically begging us to love him despite his faults.
It's a strategy as ill-suited to Kinnear as it is to the Oscar voters.