Good Will Hunting

1997, Movie, R, 122 mins

Review

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Therapy helps a working-class genius fulfill his potential in a movie that should be dedicated to the guidance counselors of America. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is an angry young man whose freakish mathematical brilliance is taking him absolutely nowhere: He works as a janitor at MIT and is getting into increasingly serious trouble with the neighborhood jerks. A bloody street brawl lands Will in front of a judge who sees no reason not to throw his smart ass in jail, but fate intervenes in the form of snotty MIT math prof Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), who's gotten wind of Will's intelligence. To keep him out of jail, Lambeau has to get the defiant and extremely difficult youth into therapy. Hunting finally agrees to work with Sean (Robin Williams), who comes from the same tough Boston neighborhood but went to college with Lambeau. Actors Damon and Ben Affleck (who has a featured role as one of Hunting's dumb buddies) wrote this awkward, repetitive script, and one can only assume that its buzz is largely a product of what it's not, namely a Tarantino-esque crime pastiche or a juvenile whine-fest of the KICKING AND SCREAMING variety. Kudos to the kids for wanting to write an old-fashioned character-driven drama, but they lack the maturity to really make it work. The acting is top-notch and some scenes are authentically well-observed, but the same points are made again and again, and the battle for Hunting's soul is ultimately a tug of war between caricatures: pathetic ivory-tower intellectuals on the one hand (Lambeau is quite literally reduced to groveling on bended knee before Hunting's raw genius), salt-of-the-earth working-class heroes on the other. All that's missing is a speech about the heart having to mediate between the head and the hands. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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Good Will Hunting
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