Movie Review: Good Will Hunting


Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant

This was the movie that was the launching pad or maximum altitude for many careers.

Robin Williams won the Academy Award (comedians acting serious tend to make better films than when they try to act funny, the same phenomenon with Will Ferrell)

1997 was the rare breakout and crash of Minnie Driver’s career (despite her also being fantastic Gross Point Blank). I coin this as breakcrashing. Name me other actors that pull off the rare feet of breaking out in two iconic breakout roles, only to have their career blow up the other way. For example, F.Murray Abraham goes from Scarface to winning an oscar for Amadeus, then faded to career oblivion. Anyone can screw up after a big hit or breakout role, but to have two in a row, then blow up is another talent all together.

Stellan Skarsgard plays himself. I truly think so. He has played pretty much the same character in every film I’ve ever seen him in. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Avengers; it doesn’t matter. He is the opposite of Mini Driver in a way. His maximum altitude peaked 20 years ago and he keeps on coasting along in some imaginary typecast glider of solitude.

Then there was Gus Van Sant. He hasn’t been trusted to make a big budget movie since, and in his relative creative hibernation has chosen not to make any good indie movies ever since. He even reteamed with Matt Damon in Promised Land, an boring movie about the dangers and corruption of fracking, but he forgot he needed a good script. There was some critical acclaim for Milk, however, I believe this has less to do on the merits of the film rather than being the “agenda film” of the year and having Sean Penn go all-out for the role. By both box office and rotten tomato-rating, his career never surpassed Good Will Hunting.

For Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, and Matt Damon, they took all the good leaf clovers in Boston and stuck it down their pants. This was superfly TNT in a jar. It was the launching pad to solid careers, in terms of commercial appeal and longevity. Ben’s career is just as successful as Matt Damon’s, with box office returns and critical acclaim. Branching out to directing has been a solid move. Say what you want about Casey Affleck not getting any huge breaks for summer tent pole releases, but he did mighty fine in the Ocean’s 11 series and did a wonderful job acting as the coward Robert Ford. The opening and closing narration scenes of that film is heavy and deep and epic, something I would imagine a literal adaptation to a Cormac McCarthy novel would be.

The movie itself is wonderful. You all know this. You’ve watched it on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, HBO, CBS, TNT, and for you younger folk probably even watched it in High School as some inspiring tale of overcoming obstacles. In a way, this film stretches reality a bit farther than his potato movie in a series of coincidences. Not only is Matt Damon a gifted genius with unparalleled mathematical talents, but just so happens to be recovering from an abusive past, in a bad neighborhood in Boston (a southie). But because he is in Boston and not say, Wichita, Mumbai, Bogota, Timbuktu (the Wichita of Mali) he chooses to work as a janitor and solve equations at MIT. He doesn’t put his skills to use earlier for reasons unknown. Nope, the magic happens when he wears those overalls and works with a mop. Then he also chooses to solve the unsolvable after already solving another problem, except this time, he chooses to do it while he knows people are in the building, Ok. I get it, the movie needs the plot to move forward. Then it just so happens an old friend (aka the last resort) of the professor is Robin Williams. Fine. Coincidence. Just like when Matt Damon finally meets a nice girl, it is during his counseling, not before or after and as a side plot point, she just so happens to go to Harvard. The entire film is like this, but to tell you the truth, I don’t care. The movie works. I want to hear the stories in the bar, I want to hear Matt Damon tell off that snobby elitist student, just like I want to tell you to see this movie if you are one of the few who have not seen it already.

How about them apples?

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 Apples

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