What You Need To Know:
Because of this premature intimacy, Will’s relationship with Skylar is disappointing. A paean to humanist ideology, GOOD WILL HUNTING has an excessive amount of foul language. Minnie Driver is affecting as the pre-med student who falls for Will and has the maturity to call him on his fears but the folly to jump into bed with him. Director Gus Van Sant’s avant-garde use of color filters and foul language doesn’t fit the feel-good premise about a promising bad boy who turns good
(H, R, LLL, V, S, A) Humanist worldview with romantic elements about a brilliant, but rebellious young man who finds love through psychotherapy; 10 profanities & 93 vulgarities, with sexual jokes; man hits woman; implied & depicted sex; and, alcohol use
GOOD WILL HUNTING opens as MIT Math Professor Jerrold Lambeau poses a difficult math problem to his students. It is a problem which took him and his colleagues a month to solve. Night janitor Will Hunting (Matt Damon) sees the math problem on a chalkboard outside the classroom and anonymously solves it. An intellectual genius, Will spends his time working blue collar jobs and brawling with his Southie friends(who come from the poor side of Boston).
In a bar one night, Will’s friend Chuckie (Ben Affleck) approaches a feisty young pre-med student, Skylar (Minnie Driver), only to be put down by an arrogant Harvard undergraduate who challenges Chuckie to prove his statement that he met Skylar in class. Will jumps in to defend Chuckie and demonstrates such intellectual prowess that he causes the conceited Harvard effete to back down. Janitor Will matches the Harvard man’s understanding of American history concept to concept, even quoting books and page numbers. Will’s unpretentious blue collar intelligence wins Skylar’s affection.
Professor Lambeau tracks Will down in a courtroom, where Will has to defend himself against an assault charge. Having read his long rap sheet, the judge sentences Will to jail time, but Professor Lambeau intercedes, offering to be Will’s legal guardian as long as Will gets therapy. Therein lies the challenge. Smarter than any therapist he has met, he stumps each one until he encounters the unconventional therapist Sean McGuire (Robin Williams), who shares Will’s history of blue collar brawling and bar crawling but has found love.
Sean challenges Will to take the big leap into adult maturity – to find a real job and a real relationship. Sean challenges Will to take down the walls around his heart. Sean’s challenges to Will parallel his relationship with Skylar. Regrettably, he starts off by bedding Skylar almost immediately. Because of this premature intimacy, Will’s relationship arc with Skylar is surprisingly unsatisfying. Also, his unusual problems make him a hard character with whom to identify: he can easily solve complicated math questions and has a photographic memory, but has been disinterested in succeeding in life.
The acting is very good, but the stand-out talent is Minnie Driver, who is both affecting and inspiring as the Harvard pre-med student who falls for Will and has the maturity to call him on his fear of intimacy but the folly to jump into bed with him right off. Director Gus Van Sant’s avant-garde use of color filters and foul language doesn’t fit the feel-good movie’s premise about a promising bad boy who turns good.