Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck nabbed one for Best Original Screenplay, but the feel-good hit Good Will Hunting triumphs because of its gifted director, Gus Va... more »n Sant. The unconventional director (My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy) saves a script marred by vanity and clunky character development by yanking soulful, touching performances out of his entire cast (amazingly, even one by Williams that's relatively schtick-free). Van Sant pulls off the equivalent of what George Cukor accomplished for women's melodrama in the '30s and '40s: He's crafted an intelligent, unabashedly emotional male weepie about men trying to find inner-wisdom. Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a closet math genius who ignores his gift in favor of nightly boozing and fighting with South Boston buddies (co-writer Ben Affleck among them). While working as a university janitor, he solves an impossible calculus problem scribbled on a hallway blackboard and reluctantly becomes the prodigy of an arrogant MIT professor (Stellan Skarsgård). Damon only avoids prison by agreeing to see psychiatrists, all of whom he mocks or psychologically destroys until he meets his match in the professor's former childhood friend, played by Williams. Both doctor and patient are haunted by the past, and as mutual respect develops, the healing process begins. The film's beauty lies not with grand climaxes, but with small, quiet moments. Scenes such as Affleck's clumsy pep talk to Damon while they drink beer after work, or any number of therapy session between Williams and Damon offer poignant looks at the awkward ways men show affection and feeling for one another. --Dave McCoy« less
"There were few films in 1997 that enjoyed more publicity than Good Will Hunting. Most of the hype centered on the two tyro actors who penned the screenplay. It seems that they had been friends for years and in between college obligations, drinking and socialising, they had been toying with a script on the side. What started out as a rather average comedy, soon evolved into a sophisticated drama. In fact, it could hardly avoid getting better as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck must have received a ton of brutal criticism from every Hollywood executive that they approached. The true miracle is not that two actors, unknown for writing, could get a script accepted in Hollywood but that the script was so good that it put every other effort for the year in the shade. In my opinion, the motion picture academy was correct in awarding the Oscar for best screenplay to Good Will Hunting. Everything about the script suggested writers with a profound understanding of the human condition; even now I half suspect there was an element of that old saying about an infinite number of monkeys on typewriters. For those interested in this Cinderella story within a movie, you should listen to the director's track on the DVD. It offers a unique insight into the background of the writing and filming of Good Will Hunting. It becomes clear from Ben and Matt's reminiscences that they had a ball during every part of the process. Not only that, they took advantage of their opportunity, to offer support roles to friends and family; a situation that rarely occurs outside of independent film. Surprisingly, one of the best support performances was produced by Casey Affleck, who is Ben's cousin, (I think). The script took a bit of a risk by making the main character a super-genius. Not only is it difficult to portray a person with such talents but it is nearly impossible to do so while making him likeable. After all, the tall poppy syndrome is strongest when it comes to intellect. We can all aspire to wealth and with plastic surgery, even beauty is not unattainable but the brains you are born with is the most you're ever going to have. However, Matt Damon proved me wrong on both counts. Will Hunting was undeniably bright. The scene in the Harvard bar were he takes on an educational supremacist is worth watching again and again just for the superb timing that was employed. Will also manages to win our sympathy despite his I.Q. Not so much because he acts like "one of the boys" but because we discover early on that for every blessing he received in the brain department, he was given a matching curse in his life. An orphan who was raised by a series of abusing foster parents is unlikely to have much room left for pride. The catalyst which helps Will break out of his life is Gerald Lambeau, (Stellan Skarsgård). He is an award winning mathematician and professor at MIT where Will works as a janitor. Their paths cross when Will off-handedly solves a difficult maths problem which Lambeau had set for his post graduate class. But whilst there relationship is important, it is little more than a subplot; a segue toward Will's eventual meeting with Sean Maguire, a psychiatrist played by Robin Williams. Sean is invited by Lambeau to work with Will. The two are old friends but even so, Sean was only approached after four other therapists had been run off by Will's destructive insights and bitter insults. Sean is a bird of a different feather however. He shares a common background with Will, and if anything, he has had more pain in his life than Will may ever see. In a strange way, Sean becomes Will's mother to Lambeau's role as ambitious father. The film is rich with detail and is a wonderful medium for the support actors. Ben Affleck's role as Will's best friend is not as visible as Matt Damon's but he carries it off with just the right amount of fatalism and aggression. Will's Lady friend Skylar, is also worth special mention. Minnie Driver takes a seemingly token "love interest" role and breaths real depth into it. Without her efforts, Will's final choice would not have rung true and might have marred the whole film. Good Will Hunting is a tribute to the dreams of American youth. Both because two young men managed to reach the pinnacle of their craft on their first outing but more importantly, because it deals with one young man's struggle to overcome his troublesome past while reaching out to grasp life, love and happiness. It's touching, entertaining and at the same time inspirational."
Four for the movie, Five for the DVD
M Darrow | everywhere at once | 03/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The angry one star reviews for Good Will Hunting demean the legitimacy of the angry one star reviews for films such as Titanic, which are truly terrible. Good Will Hunting is not a lavish hollywood blockbuster that cost 70 million to make and trippled that at the box office. It did well and garnered critical praise but it's still a (relatively) art house film handled well by Van Sant who has constructed good, small, location and lifestyle specific American movies. This movie is the same. I actually agree with some of the legitimate criticism that this movie is predictable and over wound up at the end. The other criticism about how Will shouldn't be a genius and that the film is generally "trite" seems like silly prejudice.Take my perspective... I'm a young writer of screenplays and saw the silly looking trailers for this movie written by two young guys. I was sort of furious on the inside that these two were being lauded as great and I've never seen a Robin Williams movie that wasn't over sentimental trash. Then I go to the Angelica in New York, fuming and ready to hate this movie. But I couldn't... it was too well done, well acted by all three of my nemesis and genuinely funny and emotional. Those below who say that Matt Damon's performance is bad are one of two things - without any clue about acting or jealous (and stupid because honestly I'm jealous yet I think he was great).In addition, the features here are definately good for a couple of days watching and paint a vivid picture of how this film came to be."
One Of The Best Contemporary Dramas Available!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 07/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie goes off the charts in all the most important ways, in terms of storyline, ensemble acting presented, contemporary humor, revealing truths about life and the problems associated with a young, brilliant, but emotionally troubled young man trying desperately to make sense out of a crazy world. What is so amazing and so remarkable about the film is that it was the handywork and dreamchild of two relatively unknown (at least up until then) actors and screenwriters in the persons of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, boyhood friends and denizens of the greater Boston area. Add to this superb screenplay the support of wonderful actors like Robin Williams, who won a best supporting actor oscar for his role as the psychiatrist who unlocks the secrets to the protagonist (Will Hunting)and allows him to grow and mature. Minnie Driver is also excellent as the love interest drawing Will Hunting toward his beckoning adulthood. She is also the occasion for the single best line in the film; "You like apples? I got her phone number! How do you like them apples?" This film works so well on so many levels that it is really a shame that it lost the Oscar for best picture to "Shakespeare In Love", for this is a far more powerful, enduring, and worthwhile film experience. if you haven't seen it, I recommend you RUN to the nearest video store and rent it. And after you swoon before its magic, you'll want to come back to Amazon.com and order a copy for your personal video library. Enjoy!"
Canadian release of Good Will Hunting is great!
Jeff C. | Seattle | 02/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie and got it today on Blu Ray. This is not made in the states but I was lucky enough to see it listed on Ebay and got it for only $15. It was made in Canada and has cover act that has some info in both English and French. Even though its not a high action movie that would really benefit from the Blu Ray upgrade, I think the upgrade is very noticable and I am glad I decided to upgrade. GWH is one of my favorite films of all time and having it in Blu Ray is awesome!"
""Good Will Hunting" was one of the best films in 1997 thanks to a combination of excellent direction, brilliant writing and superb acting to create an engaging drama for the audience to embrace. Being the first film ever written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, director Gus Van Sant (who also directed "My Own Private Idaho" in 1991 and "To Die For" in 1995), created a very plausible atmosphere for the unusual story to unfold:A young genius named Will Hunting (Matt Damon) never attended college, but read mathematical, scientific and literary books on his own for many years. Severely abused as a child in an adoptive home, Will now prefers to exist as a manual laborer living in a condemned house in a dilapidated Boston neighborhood. While working as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) one night, he solves a heretofore unsolvable mathematical problem written on a classroom chalkboard. The professor who originally transcribed the problem, Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård), is shocked to find the problem solved but doesn't know who solved it. He eventually finds Will, but Will was arrested and jailed for his involvement in a beating while on a night out with his best friend Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck), who is a true manual laborer. Determined to save Will from himself, Gerald enlists the aid of a former friend & college roommate, Sean Maquire (Robin Williams), who now works as a community college psychology teacher, to provide psychological therapy for Will. To be released from jail, Will agrees to regular counseling sessions with Sean and to work for Gerald. The initial therapy sessions between Will and Sean are very intense (more so for Sean than for Will, as Will uses his genius to tear into Sean's core and has had a lot of previous psychotherapy experience), but Sean finds ways to work with him. Complicating matters, a mutual attraction develops between Will and a female MIT student, Skylar (Minnie Driver). Though some that watch this film may be disturbed by the violence depicted when Will relentlessly beats a man, it helps to demonstrate how deeply troubled the character is. Other well acted supporting characters in the film include Morgan O'Mally (played by Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck's younger brother) and Billy McBride (played by Cole Hauser). Ben Affleck did a good job with his portrayal of Will's friend Chuckie."Good Will Hunting" earned Matt Damon and Ben Affleck the Oscar for Best Writing for a Screenplay and Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Other Oscar nominations received include Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Original Music, Best Song, Matt Damon for Best Actor, Minnie Driver for Best Supporting Actress and Gus Van Sant for Best Director. Overall, I give "Good Will Hunting" a rating of 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a well-acted, gripping, psychological drama."