Dir. Marc Abraham, US, 2008, 119 mins
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, Alan Alda
Review by Joyce Dundas
There is nothing more gripping and exciting than a good David v Goliath story where the little guy goes after the huge corporate machine for some justice. Unfortunately, though this film is based on a fascinating story it is not as well told as it could be. The depth of The Insider or the fun and games of Erin Brockovich , or the daddy of them all The Verdict , all have those wonderful turn-on-a-moment narratives that make you just sing for the underdog. This one makes you hum, under your breath, a little.
The two likeable leads Kinnear and Graham, as Bob and Phyllis Kearns are just that unfortunately, they just do not engage enough. Unlike the great, if simple, invention Kearns was responsible for. When Robert Kearns took on the Ford the carmakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper. That flash of genius that has probably saved countless lives.
The performances are good, Graham is particularly noteworthy, but at a long 119 minutes it is hard for even the strongest performances to hold the one premise together.
There are also several holes in the film's plot, that have been well-documented, of the patent's filing and the time that lapsed between certain events. Those sorts of lapses are not really forgiveable in a film that is all about a stolen patent. The historic facts should be spot on, even to the point of geekdom. This is a car film after all and car lovers do know their stuff.
The film is engaging enough, but don't expect the big courtroom scene with the histrionic moments, though Alan Alda's short turn as the lawyer with depth is electrifying, and you can see the ending coming through a clean and clear windscreen.