We’ve all heard this story line before: Boy-wonder-genius is discovered and is put to use by scientists. Then the government finds out and puts the boy-wonder to work for the government. Something outrageous is discovered by the boy as he works for the government and some bad guys come hunting for the boy, trying to ax him. All I have to say is: Thank goodness writers/actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took a different approach.
Among its several connotations, the title includes the name of the main character, Will Hunting (Matt Damon). Will is a young man who has a special gift for mathematics and other college level learning. For him, comprehending difficult theories is as easy as tying his shoelaces. He can read at impressive speeds and retain all of the knowledge after one reading. By no means is Will like Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man; he is a normal guy with an abnormal talent. He works as a janitor at MIT, and while cleaning the floors one night, he solves a difficult proof posted on a chalkboard and catches the attention of a hardworking professor, Lambeua (Stellan Skarsgård). Will is thrown in jail after a scuffle with some punks and Lambeaua sees this as an opportunity to help Will out. Lambeaua agrees to get Will out of jail if he will study math with Lambeaua and get some therapy.
After driving away a few therapists with his mind games, Will meets one that can help him. Sean McGuire (Robin Williams) is from the same part of town and is never turned away by Will’s horrible behavior. The problem with Will is that he has a lot of talent but he is squandering it by being a punk and turning down “real world” ideas. Both Lambeua and McGuire see this and both want to help Will out.
Along the way a relationship starts between Will and Skylar (Minnie Driver). Although it has meaning within the movie, it seems somewhat shallow and I would have liked to see the relationship developed more. We also get to meet Will’s friends, including his best friend, Chuckie (Ben Affleck). Like the love relationship, the friendships in the film seem underdeveloped and shallow.
Those are small complaints, though, because the script works well in tugging at our emotions. The most important relationship is the one between Will and Sean, his therapist. And it is in this relationship that we find out why Will is way that he is. We also see that Sean is being helped by Will.
All performances in Good Will Hunting are top-notch. Matt Damon is on a roll, first with his starring role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker, and now with his lead role in Good Will Hunting. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next. Robin Williams also gives a wonderful performance. His Professor McGuire is a man with a hard past and Williams is able to get that across on screen. (I’m also glad to see Williams in a good movie instead of movies like Flubber and Father’s Day.)
The script by Damon and Affleck milks each and every scene for emotion, whether a laugh or a tear. In that aspect the script works very well. Sometimes it feels corny, but it’s never bad enough to ruin the film. Gus Van Sant Jr., the director, does a wonderful job keeping up the pace. Worth mentioning is the acoustic and intimate score by Danny Elfman, which is surprisingly different from his other works. It sounds more like a tame version of the Midnight Run music than it does his more grand scores, like Batman. But, like in all his other films, Elfman never allows the score to overshadow what is happening on screen.
Good Will Hunting is a great film. The theme (If you have talent, don’t waste it), comes very close to being inspiring. The film is definitely a tear-jerker though. Don’t Miss Good Will Hunting on the big screen. After seeing the film, let me know what the title means to you.
Edited by Cher Johnson.