Who’s In It: Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, Alan Alda
The Basics: The compelling true story of Robert Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. No, seriously, that’s really what this movie is about. Greg Kinnear plays the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. Look, his story is very dramatic, okay? He had to make sure it was precisely intermittent at just the right time intervals or everyone would hear that awful squeak of blades on not-quite-wet-enough glass. That’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for sensitive-eared people like myself.
What’s The Deal: It would have been a lot cooler if history hadn’t been so unkind to Kearns (at least at first—he got his due later) and turned his invention into TV movie-ready mulch instead of just allowing him to keep creating new modern conveniences like the kooky inventor he clearly was. Because like clockwork, the big automakers tried to steal his ideas and he had to go to court and be a sort of male, non-mini-skirt-wearing Erin Brockovich before there even was an Erin Brockovich. For him that meant time away from inventing things. What that means to you is that this is a typical courtroom drama, one whose results are easily Googleable. So that kind of takes the suspense out of it. Like, all of it.
Who Tries To Make It Work: Greg Kinnear is, weirdly enough, an interesting character actor. Weird because he’s got a kind of puppy-dog handsome face that he refuses to allow be used in bland leading-man role after bland leading-man role (examples of his selectivity: Autofocus, Fast Food Nation, Little Miss Sunshine). He could have made this guy into merely a noble, adorable underdog but instead he leans toward frustrated, eccentric and irritable. That’s admirable. It’s not enough to make the movie exciting, but he gives it a good shot.
Rejected Titles I Just Thought Up: I Totally Invented the Intermittent Windshield Wiper, Wiping for Non-Intermittent Justice, Blades of Glory