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203 of 216 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film crafting
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...
Published on May 7, 2000 by Anthony Hinde

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Timid but reasonably good
Reasonably good movie about the role of the genius in our world. Although the film was at times timid and hampered by the Hollywoodian necessity of the happy ending, it raises some interesting questions about the status of intellectual perfoarmance and the associated system of rewards in our society.
The fact is that the guy is a genius. The revelation of his...
Published on January 20, 1999

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203 of 216 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film crafting, May 7, 2000
Anthony Hinde (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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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.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Story, Intelligent Script & Superb Acting, 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.
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55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four for the movie, Five for the DVD, 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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively ambitous in concept, near perfect in execution, February 20, 2001
This review is from: Good Will Hunting [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall good Dvd, January 6, 2000
Neil Moreton (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Good Will Hunting (DVD)
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.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two scenes elevate this movie from simply good, to brilliant, May 27, 2004
Byron (Palo Alto, CA) - See all my reviews
Many reviewers have focused on the acting and the story as the basis for their positive reviews, but there are two scenes that really make this movie, although I think the subtlety of their connection sometimes escapes people. Even Amazon's reviewer called the script "clunky" or some such condescending insult, making me think he missed this too.
The first scene occurs when Will Hunting and his posse go out on the town one night, and instead of going to their regular Southie hangouts, they hit a "Hahvahd bah". After a series of amusing events, there is a confrontation between Will and an arrogant Harvard undergrad, Clark. Clark, assuming Will is just some uneducated Southie scum, starts quoting from one of his history/economics textbooks, passing it off as his own thoughts, assuming that no one will recognize the true source of his words, in an attempt to impress some nearby girls. Will, having read the same book in his free time, recognizes the passage, interrupts, and finishes it for Clark, even quoting the book title, author, and page number, and thoroughly embarrassing Clark. Will asks, "are you going to plagiarize the entire book for me, or do you have an original thought of your own?" The humiliated student resorts to the lame comeback that at least he'll "have a degree, and Will will one day be serving his kids fries at the drive-through." Will responds, "at least I won't be unoriginal," and invites Clark to step outside to further "discuss" it. Clark meekly declines, ending the scene.
The second scene occurs after Will has been recognized and bailed out from jail by an MIT professor, Lambeau. Lambeau's two conditions for bailing out Will were that Will spend several days a week working on mathematics with Lambeau, and working in therapy with a psychologist. However, Will inevitably proves smarter than all the psychologists Lambeau enlists, finding various ways to turn the tables and expose their own shortcomings and insecurities, rather than opening up about and dealing with his own, offending them and humiliating them to the point where they refuse to continue working with Will. Finally, Lambeau enlists the aid of Sean (Robin Williams), his old MIT undergrad roomate with whom he has fallen out of touch over the years. Sean, a Southie native like Will, is psychology prof at a local Boston college, and is a man living an empty, dead life, still grieving over the death of his beloved wife to cancer two years ago. In short order, Will cruelly exposes Sean's pain, and believing himself to be the victor once again, exits the session. But Sean is no quitter, and tells Lambeau to schedule the next session anyway. At this session, Sean turns the tables, by telling Will essentially what Will told the arrogant Harvard student at the bar, but on a deeper level. Sean tells Will that he's just boy, whose only experience in life comes from reading books. Sean points out that while Will may be able to talk all about art, war, love, grief, and other aspects of life, he's never actually experienced any of it. He doesn't know what it "smells like inside the Sistine Chapel", or what it's like to be in a war and to hold "your best friend's head in your lap and watch him draw his last breath, looking to you for help." Will doesn't know what it's like to truly love, nor to grieve for the death that of love. This revelation has the effect of instilling in Will a respect for Sean's intelligence and character, allowing him to finally start opening up to someone, and marking a turning point in the movie.
Robin William's monologue in this scene is probably one of the best pieces of writing Hollywood has come up with in recent years, not for its sappiness, but for its depth, truth, and honesty, and for the clever way that it turns Will's own thoughts against him.
So, for these two scenes alone I give this movie 5 stars. There are plenty of other funny and clever scenes that fill the gaps and complete the movie, but these are the most important two, and the ones that make it a must-see.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian release of Good Will Hunting is great!, February 23, 2009
This review is from: Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray)
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!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent direction, strong Damon performance, 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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Good Will Hunting - 15th Anniversary Edition" on BLU RAY - Fab Picture Quality And No Region Coding Problems For Any Buyers..., March 8, 2014
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
Production Featurette
Academy Award: Best Picture Montage
Miss Misery Music Video
Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Theatrical Trailer

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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Will Hunting (1997), December 29, 2005
This review is from: Good Will Hunting (DVD)
Director: Gus Van Sant

Cast: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgard, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, John Mighton, Rachel Majorowski.

Running Time: 126 minutes

Rated R for strong language, including some sex-related dialogue.

The script for "Good Will Hunting" is the antithesis to the Hollywood system as we know it: two talented young actors (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), yet to make their big break, come up with a polished, original, and personal script, rather than the screenplay-by-committee published by the major studios for the sole purpose of commercial gain. Every line of dialog, rather than succumbing to the pit of tired cliches, comes off original and with personality. Every scene, the characters relate to each other believably, while remaining completely engaging. Outside of maybe "Pulp Fiction", there had not been script this original and absorbing in some time.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is an orphan who has been to a number of abusive foster homes. At twenty, he starts working at the prestigious MIT as a caretaker on parole, since he's been involved in several assaults. One day the tough maths question on the board is found solved and the searching of the mystery genius begins. When Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) realises it is Will who has solved the difficult tasks, he decides to help him by offering him working on further maths studies and seeing a psychotherapist. Talented and yet highly defensive, Will manages to scare all the shrinks away and eventually Professor Lambeau has to turn to psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), his university roommate for help. Sean's unique approach finally touches the deep inside of Will's complex and it gradually dilutes Will's insecurity and distrust of people. Meanwhile, Will falls in love with Harvard med student Skylar (Minnie Driver) but later has to confront his inner uncertainty. In the end, Sean and Will helps each other to deal with their own issues.

Robin Williams gives the performance of his career here, even topping his great work in "Dead Poets Society". Here, he's not the schmaltzy, kindhearted savior he's been in his last couple of movies, rather he's a good, intelligent, but flawed man who is there originally just to guide Will, but ultimately his experiences with will help him confront his own issues. His performance is not superficial, but nuanced--knowing about life, but at the same time, not knowing, and learning along with Will. Similarly, Matt Damon did a great job giving us the outwardly cocky genius-with-an-attitude that is deeply hurt inside and grows to show us that he doesn't know everything, but is willing to learn. Ben Affleck is amusing and honest as his friend Chuckie, and Stellan Skarsgard and Minnie Driver do great jobs in their respective roles as well. The work of everyone involved in the film, particularly Damon, Affleck, and Williams, raises what could have been a complete cliche to cinematic excellence. Director Gus Van Sant, who derailed his career with the unwarranted remake of "Psycho", uses all the outstanding members of the cast to create an extremely heartwarming, effective drama. Everyone criticizes the Oscars for their dubious selections; however, when they honored this script and Robin Williams' performance; they couldn't have gotten it more right.
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Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting by Gus Van Sant (DVD - 2011)
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