Good Will Hunting Review
By Christopher Null
Hype? Sheesh, like no other. This side of Titanic, Good Will Hunting has enjoyed some of the most baffling, gushing praise of the year. Does either film deserve it? Not really.
Let's look at the facts: You have Matt Damon as Will Hunting -- apparently the smartest man on the face of the earth who can also kick anyone's ass over breakfast, and has a history of run-ins with the law. Oh no! Affleck is his down-to-earth best bud. Driver, the hoity-toity love interest. Williams and Skarsgård as Hunting's mentors, the guys that rescue him from a prison sentence for assaulting a police officer. And it is made abundantly clear that the film is also about the class stuggle in Boston.
Now that I've typed it out, it sounds ridiculous, and the more I think about it, the more it really is. The plot and theme of Good Will Hunting hinge upon the idea that it's tough for the smartest man in the world to make the move from crumb-bum to respectable member of society. Why? Because (a) "just because he has a gift he doesn't have to use it!" and (b) he had a troubled childhood. Well, boo hoo!
The more I write, the more it sounds like a topic on "Jenny Jones": Boy Geniuses on the Wrong Side of the Tracks. Right. If any believable character had this guy's abilities, this movie would have been much different... and probably much shorter, too.
I realize I'm ranting here, but the pop psychology of Hunting reaches such a high level of annoyance so that when Williams tearfully confronts Damon with the film's signature line of -- I kid you not -- "It's not your fault," it just gets silly. And it lost me.
The script, written by Damon and Affleck, is otherwise humorous and keeps you entertained. Van Sant's direction is inexplicably amateurish and features some lousy voice dubbing. Williams is pretty good in his role, and for what it's worth, so is Damon, even though the character is ludicrous. All told, the film has plenty of enjoyable moments, but it's just not the deep experience the filmmakers want you to believe it is.
And neither was Titanic. That ought to guarantee me plenty of hate mail for the next few weeks. Fire away.
"It's not your fault you spilled paint on your clothes," says Williams in a tearful moment.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 9th January 1998
Box Office Worldwide: $225.9M
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Production compaines: Miramax Films, Lawrence Bender Productions, Be Gentlemen Limited Partnership
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 69 Rotten: 2
Cast & Crew
Director: Gus Van Sant Jr.
Starring: Matt Damon as Will Hunting, Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Ben Affleck as Chuckie Sullivan, Stellan Skarsgård as Prof. Gerald Lambeau, Minnie Driver as Skylar, Casey Affleck as Morgan O'Mally, Cole Hauser as Billy McBride, John Mighton as Tom, George Plimpton as Psychologist, Rachel Majorowski as Krystyn, Colleen McCauley as Cathy, Matt Mercier as Barbershop Quartet #1, Ralph St. George as Barbershop Quartet #2, Rob Lynds as Barbershop Quartet #3, Dan Washington as Barbershop Quartet #4, Alison Folland as M.I.T. Student, Derrick Bridgeman as M.I.T. Student, Vik Sahay as M.I.T. Student, Shannon Egleson as Girl on Street, Rob Lyons as Carmine Scarpaglia, Steven Kozlowski as Carmine Friend #1, Jennifer Deathe as Lydia, Scott William Winters as Clark, Philip Williams as Head Custodian, Patrick O'Donnell as Assistant Custodian / Marty, Kevin Rushton as Courtroom Guard, Jimmy Flynn as Judge Malone, Joe Cannon as Prosecutor, Ann Matacunas as Court Officer, Francesco Clemente as Hypnotist, Jessica Morton as Bunker Hill Student, Barna Moricz as Bunker Hill Student, Libby Geller as Toy Store Cashier, Chas Lawther as M.I.T. Professor, Richard Fitzpatrick as Timmy, David Eisner as Executive #3, Bruce Hunter as NSA Agent, Robert Talvano as 2nd NSA Agent, James Allodi as Security Guard