Good Will Hunting (1997)

good will hunting poster 1997 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Holds up well, good cast

Some aspects are now overused that were fresh at the time

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Good Will Hunting

Studio:  Miramax/Be Gentlemen Limited Partnership/Lawrence Bender Productions

Genre(s):  Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  December 2, 1997 (Premiere)/December 5, 1997 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

good will hunting matt damon math problem

What if all the math solutions were wrong and the movie was just over…

Will Hunting (Matt Damon), his friend Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck), and their buddies are from South Boston and proud of it.  Will spends his time jumping menial job to job if he isn’t in trouble with the law.  When Will reveals a secret skill for math to MIT professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård), Professor Lambeau realizes Will could be the next genius that could surpass everyone…if he can keep him out of trouble.  Lambeau’s psychiatrist classmate named Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) is Will’s key to keeping out of jail…if Will lets him.  Meanwhile, Will has met a Harvard student named Skylar (Minnie Driver) who could open up Will’s life forever.

Directed by Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting is a romance-drama.  The movie was written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Robin Williams) and Best Original Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Minnie Driver), Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Original Song (“Miss Misery”).

Good Will Hunting was one of those movies that came out at a perfect time.  I was the same age of the characters, it was pretty smart, and had a good young cast.  I liked the film, but despite that, it has been years since I’ve seen it…and it surprisingly holds up.

good will hunting matt damon minnie driver kiss

He’s just going to break your heart, sweet Minnie Driver…

There is a bit of cliché scripting, but that is mostly because concepts from the movie have been borrowed since the film’s release (which is not the film’s fault)…the “genius among the common folk” was played with and used in other films (and the whole math equation scene was parodied in Rushmore)…but Good Will Hunting manages to do it with heart and deftness that feels fresh.  In addition to the basic plotline, the movie has a romance which is problematic, but real and two examples of unique friendship…one a childhood loyalty and another a paternal friendship that the character is seeking.  All aspects are done well.

Any weaknesses in the script are bolstered by a solid cast.  Both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon kind of exploded in this movie (the revisited the characters for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), but it also featured another great dramatic turn from Robin Williams who always seems to work better when he can curb his manic energy.  Following Circle of Friends and Grosse Pointe Blank (which was earlier in the year), Driver continues to demonstrate a solid role as a vulnerable romantic lead.  Stellan Skarsgård is a bit of a heavy and an ally at the same time in his inability to understand Will while the movie also features appearances by Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, and George Plimpton.

good will hunting robin williams oscar academy award matt damon

I’m trying again…can drama get me the Oscar?

The movie is primarily a drama so it isn’t necessarily the flashiest of films, but it uses the Ivy League world of North Boston well.  It maybe would have been nice to have a bit more contrast between Will’s world north of the Charles River versus his world in South Boston (but there is some).

Good Will Hunting was a rather smart script made at a time when more independent films were exploding.  It could (theoretically) be dragged down by the Harvey Weinstein’s behavior, but the movie stands enough on its own that it doesn’t fear that it could be a concern, but unfortunately, a lot of Miramax’s big hits were so closely tied to him.  Hopefully Good Will Hunting will endure and people will still be watching it in the future…how about them apples?

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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