It doesn't take a Flash of Genius to figure out that this movie about an engineer was the product of some highly intelligent design; everything about it feels calibrated to perfection, and its quality of craftsmanship is difficult to deny. It's a movie that comes decked out with all the features necessary to win over its audience. It's a tale of a lowly David taking on corporate Goliath, a portrait of a marriage on the rocks, and a tit-for-tat courtroom drama. It's got a tortured genius whose brain power is challenged only by his inner madness, and it's got his loving, long-suffering wife who sees in him what others may miss. It's a 1960s period piece, it's based on a true story, and hey, it's even got mental illness. Awards, please!
And yet, for all this smart craft, it's hard not to wonder if the film's designer hasn't handed off a big mess to his marketing guys. Because as solid as the movie is—and truly, its professionalism cannot be impugned—one wonders exactly who or what this particular vehicle was made for. On the one hand, it feels way too slick for the Academy, and yet it also seems like it isn't quite flashy enough to bring in big audiences. It's a crowd-pleaser through and through, yet it's questionable as to whether anyone will want to rush out and see it. Maybe a bit more fine-tuning was due after all.
Greg Kinnear stars in the lead role—a job that one can easily imagine going to Tom Hanks, or a Hollywood funnyman trying to prove that he can play it straight. Thankfully, though, the casting didn't go in that direction, as Kinnear is wonderful in the kind of leading role he's long deserved, playing the smart and socially awkward college professor and amateur inventor Robert Kearns. Dr. Kearns ...1