Picks and Pans Review: Flash of Genius

updated 10/13/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Alan Alda | PG-13

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Next time it rains, when you switch on the wipers to clear your windshield, mutter a quick thanks to Robert Kearns. He invented the intermittent wiper, though it took him years and a Sisyphean legal battle to prove it. Flash of Genius, despite its title, is a workmanlike retelling of his story. Kearns (Kinnear, reliable as ever), an electrical engineering prof in Detroit, dreams up the device in the '60s, thrilled that he can now provide the good life for his beloved wife (Graham) and six kids. He takes his idea to the Ford Motor Co., which promptly swipes the technology but denies him credit (or a cut of the profits), and so begins his long, lonely battle for recognition. It's a fascinating tale but, as depicted here, not an especially compelling one.

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