Critics like/don’t like/like Flash of Genius, a movie about the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. “Go ahead, groan,” writes Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, but the movie works thanks entirely to star Greg Kinnear. The perennial supporting actor here takes the lead and “ignores all the ‘caution’ signs,” making a milquetoast engineer into a compelling, dark, and borderline insane character worth cheering.
Otherwise, the film is mostly a formulaic biopic, “moderately inspiring in the way such true-life stories of ‘the indomitable human spirit’ are always constructed to be,” says Todd McCarthy in Variety. It is “indifferently filmed,” and directed with what Travers calls “a timid TV approach.” And yes, says Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it “has its corn, its conflation, its composite characters.” But sometimes “it's downright Capraesque” and Kinnear “floors you.”