on May 7, 2000
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.
on February 25, 2003
"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.
on March 30, 2000
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.
on February 20, 2001
This is a much more ambitious project than would appear at first glance. Given the benefit of hindsight, it would seem like a no-brainer to let Ben and Matt try their hands at writing a buddy movie with lots of male bonding and weepy emotion. But coming from two unknown commodities, it really is a startling achievement.
Their script goes down several paths that seasoned scriptwriters don't dare tread, for if they are not done perfectly they tend to collapse like a house of cards on a waterbed.
First, we get the working class buddies. Affleck, his brother Casey, Cole Hauser, and Damon have wonderful and believable chemistry together as a bunch of South Boston wiseguys. We see them cruising for burgers and chicks, picking fights, and going to work, with a habit of ease obviously built over years and years. Later on, someone says of Affleck's character's relationship with Damon's: "Chuckie's family, he'd lie down in...traffic for you." The line becomes superfluous, a validation of things we've already seen for ourselves.
Second, we get the tortured genius/prodigy. The credit here must be split in two places. First, the script takes great pains in its authenticity. Apparently the theorems that Will solves are as complex as portrayed, and are solved in the appropriate manner. Most movie portrayals of genius tend to fudge that part of the equation, hoping that the audience is dumb enough to not recognize that the guitar virtuoso is not really playing the song (a problem that I found distracting in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown") or that the great writer's words are not up to snuff (as is the problem in director Van Sant's later film "Finding Forrester"). Second, Damon himself does a wonderful job in showing both the ease at which this math comes to him, and the coiled frustration that it burdens him with.
Third, we get the mentors. Stellan Skarsgard, as the mathematician who discovers Will, could have easily settled for being a two-dimensional villain. But his Prof. Lambeau is believably flawed, and his displaced ambition never becomes cartoonish or unredeemably destructive. Robin Williams, as the psychologist Will is court-ordered to see, manages nary a moment of his patented over-the-top showmanship. Rather, his Sean is reserved, anguished, and powerful, but always in very subtle ways. Williams does his best work portraying Sean's grief, calling it up in a matter-of-fact way until it needs to boil over and lash out to protect itself, as it does in his first scene with Will. Their relationship ends up strengthening over time, culminating in one final scene of catharsis that if portrayed by lesser actors with a lesser script, would come across as schmaltzy, but here is very real and very moving.
Fourth, we get the girl. I remember when this movie first came out, Minnie Driver's character took a lot of flak for throwing herself so shamelessly at Will, who obviously wasn't capable at giving her anything back. On looking at the movie again, it is astounding to me that this act of courage could be criticized so. Her Skylar -- Driver does a wonderful job at portraying her joie de vivre, as well as her self-consciousness -- is set up for life, both in her education and in her finances, so she doesn't really need a hardship case like Will. And yet she loves him, and repeatedly tells him so, knowing full well that he's not going to say it back. Sure, for the most part it's borderline masochistic, and she puts herself through a needless amount of torture, but wouldn't an easier road be less satisfying? And wouldn't a less complex character for boy genius Will to be confronted with just become easy prey? Yes and yes, I say.
These four items, combined with its flair for solid and sometimes flashy dialogue ("How do you like them apples?"), make up a wonderful film. It makes good on all its promises, and manages to be entertaining, emotional, and assuredly worthwhile.
on March 1, 2002
Gus van Sant does a very nice job keeping this movie moving along briskly, something that might not be especially easy given the subject matter. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a natural genius with close to perfect recall, who has various relationship issues, and an unpleasant family history. Robin Williams plays Hunting's somewhat unwilling therapist with issues of his own, which Hunting expertly locates and triggers.
The chemistry between Williams and Damon *works* - the various power plays and tests seem very real, and felt deeply by both actors. The friendship between Ben Afleck and Damon is easy and familiar, which isn't surprising given that they grew up together. Damon and Minnie Driver don't have quite the right electricity between them, but Driver does an excellent job of portraying the slightly eccentric Skylar.
Van Sant's direction is outstanding, and resembles his work in "My Own Private Idaho" in bits, but has a maturity not as well-developed ten years ago.
Overall, a very good movie with powerful performances given unflinchingly.
on February 2, 1999
Surely to become one of the most memorable dramas of the 90`s, "Good Will Hunting" is a genuinely excellent film that is enriched with a rare, down to earth power. Surprisingly moving and effective, "Good Will Hunting" is basically about choosing what we truly want and need in our lives. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck`s script is incredible, and it goes perfectly with Gus Van Sant`s style of directing, which is this time a lot more "softer" than his previous works. "Good Will Hunting" is brimming with remarkable performances, and is constructed almost flawlessly. The publicity the film recieved is well-deserved. An unforgettable and highly satisfying movie.
The lead character of the film is Will Hunting(Damon). A cocky, rebellious but deeply troubled young man who is also a mathematical prodigy. But instead of using his gift, Will hides it, and mops floors for a living. But Will`s phenomenon is accidentally discovered one day by an MIT professor. He practically offers Will a ticket to exposure and fame, but he obviously refuses. Will would rather stick to his blue-collar roots and best friend Chuckie (Affleck). After several failed attempts to reach him with psychologists, the professor calls in his old roommate Sean Maguire. A wise and recently widowed psychiatrist played excellently by Robin Williams. Sean and Will seem to understand each other deeply, and they ultimately become each other`s inspiration to change themselves for the better. To add even more complication to Will`s life, he meets a vibrant Harvard student named Skylar (Minnie Driver). She quickly falls in love with him, but unfortunately evokes Will`s traumatic childhood and makes him more confused then ever. Between fame, roots or a true love, Will`s search for the answer is difficult, but slowly becomes clear in the end.
I'm stunned at how good this 1997 starter movie for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck looks on this 2012 American Miramax/Lionsgate BLU RAY (which is now cheap as chip). It's beautifully clean and a revelation after all these years of so-so DVDs.
There's barely a hair on any scene - no glitches - no wobbles - the colour is beautiful - and as it's defaulted to 'Widescreen' so it fills the entire screen naturally (without bars top or bottom). There's English and German 5.1 DTS-HD Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH - and English, Spanish, French and German subtitles.
It's also REGION A and 'B' - which means the States, the 'UK and Europe'. So British and European film fans can buy this great movie with confidence that it won't give them compatibility issues.
You also forget how good a film "Good Will Hunting" is and was (9 nominations) - a really great script by the boys full of life observations from the real Boston (won for best original screenplay), Stellan Skarsgard as the snotty obsessed Maths teacher and Robin Williams as the hurt but earthy shrink (both shining like diamonds - especially Williams who is a wow and rightly won his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) and the lovely Minnie Driver with such a lightness of touch. Younger brother Casey Affleck as one of the boys while Matt and Ben took the world by storm - so brilliant for such a young age.
The EXTRAS are shockingly substantial: also
A 4-Part Retrospective:
Reflecting On A Journey: Good Will Hunting 15 Years Later
The Era Of Good Will Hunting
Cast And Crew Spotlight
Academy Awards: A Winning Season
Life Goes On
Matt Damon Remembers Good Will Hunting
Audio Commentary by Director Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
11 Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary
Academy Award: Best Picture Montage
Miss Misery Music Video
Intimate, funny and wise (in a good way) - "Good Will Hunting" still stands up.
A great 'US' BLU RAY we can enjoy - and now at a dirt-cheap price. Dig in.
Why do they do this??? I have the VHS of this movie and now have the DVD. The school yard fight scene has a different sound track on the DVD!??? Why?? What really makes me mad is that it ruins the scene. The first time I saw this movie and heard the mellow(Gerry Rafferty?)song playing while the boys are duking it out in the school yard....I thought...WOW! what a cool choice of music for such a violent scene! Now In the DVD version, they have replaced the song with some audio effected bells??? Weird and exasperating!! 5 stars for the movie, but one star deducted for the cruel joke they have played on me! Boo.....
****Blu Ray update****
The Blu Ray looks and sounds much better than the DVD version, but they have changed the school yard music for a third time. This is an improvment over the DVD, but not as good as the original VHS. The original song used has now been re-inserted, but it has been altered with echo and has been faded down in the mix. It's really strange that there are so many versions of this scene. The original version with the song playing straight through is by far the best and it should be corrected.
****End of update****
on January 6, 2000
My Rating is based on video quality, sound, features, and the movie itself.
Video quality: I thought it was excellent but what I liked most about this dvd was the anamorphic view. This means a wider than usual widescreen which means a bigger picture for most of us.
Sound: Great, nothing to report.
Features: I made the mistake in buying the regular version of this dvd. Features-wise it only has a music video as an added extra. A little poor on the features but thats why they have the collectors edition.
Movie: The movie itself is a great movie. Set in Boston, the movie caught me by suprise because I usually like action movies and not drama.
Overall, I think it is worth it to the COLLECTORS EDITION Dvd. Do not get the regular dvd because for a couple bucks more you can get a whole lot of features.
on September 14, 2014
THE FILM: GOOD WILL HUNTING, even though there really aren't any narrative surprises, is filled with wonderful dialogue and bolstered by strong performances. The story is about Will Hunting (Matt Damon), who is a bit of a hard case when it comes to his personal life, but is also a mathematical genius. Together with the help of an MIT professor (Stellan Skarsgard) and a psychologist (Robin Williams) he comes to understand his true potential. The best parts of the film are the many dialogue scenes, some emotionally deep and others biting, that add so much depth to the characters. This was a passion project for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and it shows. The dialogue felt natural and true to life, which adds to the authenticity of the overall experience. Though everyone (including Ben Affleck) turns in an excellent performance, Matt Damon and Robin Williams are especially good. Matt Damon is the hard-headed young adult who is afraid to let people in, and Robin Williams is a professor with experience and insight that he uses to get to Will. Even though the narrative structure wasn't the tightest, there was something to enjoy about every scene, and all of them added something to the overall picture. I should also mention that Minnie Driver does a great job as Will's girlfriend, and Casey Affleck has a few of the best lines. As far as other aspects go I enjoyed the score, which was never intrusive or told the audience how to feel. There was also a rather eclectic soundtrack which fit the moods of various scenes perfectly. Overall, it was a superbly written film with equally good performances.
THE DISC: The audiovisual quality is spectacular, as would be expected from a Blu-ray. What sets this apart from other titles is, befitting the many awards it won, a plethora of extra material which enrich the overall experience. The two best extras are a feature-length commentary with Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and an hour-long, multi-part retrospective feature on the making of the film. There were a number of anecdotes which were interesting and insightful, probably most of all by Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) who was a co-producer. Among the other extras are 11 deleted scenes with audio commentary, a production featurette, and a music video.
OVERALL: Highly deserving of all the awards it received, the writing and acting is spectacular, and it gets the royal treatment on Blu-ray. While a lot of Oscar-winning films don't stand the test of time, this one deals with universal themes in an honest and realistic way. If you haven't seen it (or bought it), you owe it to yourself to get this definitive edition.