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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Good Will Hunting (1997)


What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: A young man of immense talent has to be pushed to have the courage to find out what he's truly capable of.


Plot Summary: When a mysterious janitor, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), at MIT solves one of the complex math challenges for the students, Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgaard) seeks him out thinking he is the next Einstein. However, due to his impending jail time for assault and his clouded past of criminal activities and troubles in foster care, Will is forced to undergo psychological therapy with Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). Together, Sean and Lambeau push Will to become more than the consistently drunk delinquent he is with his friends (Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, and Cole Hauser), and become the person he could be if he got out of his own way.


Cast:

  • Gus Van Sant as Director

  • Matt Damon as Will Hunting, Writer

  • Ben Affleck as Chuckie Sullivan, Writer

  • Robin Williams as Dr. Sean Maguire

  • Stellan Skarsgård as Professor Gerald Lambeau

  • Minnie Driver as Skylar

  • Casey Affleck as Morgan O'Mally

  • Cole Hauser as Billy McBride

  • John Mighton as Tom

*Recognition:

  • Good Will Hunting was wide released in January 1998 and went on to gross $138 million in North America and $225 million worldwide.

  • The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director (Van Sant), Actor (Damon), Supporting Actress (Driver), Film Editing, Score (Elfman), and Original Song

  • Good Will Hunting won for Supporting Actor (Williams) and Original Screenplay (Damon and Affleck)

  • In 2014, it was ranked at number 53 in The Hollywood Reporter's "100 Favorite Films" list.

Did You Know:

  • When Matt Damon was in his fifth year at Harvard, he was in a playwriting class. The culmination of it was to write a one-act play. He started writing a movie, which with the help of Ben Affleck became this movie.

  • The very first day of the shooting, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck started crying out of happiness, because it was a scene between Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgård, accomplished actors, doing Damon's and Affleck's scene verbatim, and they had waited so long (five years) for this to happen.

  • Matt Damon and Ben Affleck found a clever way to choose the right studio for their script. The story goes that on page 60 of the script, they wrote a completely out-of-nowhere sex scene between Will and Chuckie. They took it to every major studio, and nobody even mentioned the scene. When they met with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, he said, "I only have one really big note on the script. About page 60, the two leads, both straight men, have a sex scene. What the hell is that?" Damon and Affleck explained that they put that scene specifically in the script to show them who actually read the script and who didn't. As Weinstein was the only person who brought it up, Miramax was the studio chosen to produce the film.

  • Ben Affleck was twenty-five when he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for this film, making him the youngest person ever to win the award. And Matt Damon was twenty-seven and is the second youngest person to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

  • Casey Affleck ad-libbed most of his lines. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Gus Van Sant later admitted that Casey's improvised lines were much funnier and better than what had been originally written for him.

  • Initially, producer Harvey Weinstein did not want Minnie Driver at all for the role of Skylar, feeling she wasn't cute enough for the part. Because Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck wanted her in the movie, Weinstein ultimately relented, and Driver went on to be nominated for a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar.

  • When Robin Williams read the script via Francis Ford Coppola and really liked it, his one question for Coppola was, "Who are these guys?"

  • In a Boston Magazine retrospective interview, Ben Affleck mentioned that he and Matt Damon wrote the part of Sean with Morgan Freeman or Robert De Niro in mind, and he and Damon would imitate their voices when reviewing the dialogue in the script.

  • Sean Maguire was based on Matt Damon's mother and Ben Affleck's father, kind of a synthesis of the two.

  • When Robin Williams and Matt Damon were shooting the scene on the bench in the Public Garden, it seems like they're the only people in the park. However, due to Robin Williams' being a massive star, at one point, over 3000 people were at the location watching that scene.

  • In 2014, after Robin Williams died, the bench in the Boston Public Garden where he and Matt Damon had their conversation scene became an impromptu memorial site. People left flowers, quotes, and various items at the bench. A petition has been passed around to erect a statue in Williams' memory near the bench.

  • Matt Damon was MIT's 2016 commencement speaker. He commented in his speech that it was the second time he fake-graduated from there.

Best Performance: Robin Williams (Sean)

Best Secondary Performance: Matt Damon (Will, Writer)/Gus Van Sant (Director)

Most Charismatic Award: Robin Williams (Sean)/Matt Damon (Will)

Best Scene:

  • Mystery Math Magician

  • Will Defends Himself

  • I Don't Need Therapy

  • How Do You Like Them Apples

  • You're Just a Scared Kid

  • First Date

  • Game 6 - 76' World Series

  • Ted Kaczynski

  • Retainer

  • If You're Still Here, I'll Kill You

  • It's Not Your Fault

  • I've Gotta See About a Girl

Favorite Scene: You're Just a Scared Kid/How Do You Like Them Apples

Most Indelible Moment: It's Not Your Fault/I've Gotta See About a Girl


In Memorium:

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Sean: You're not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense: this girl you've met, she's not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you're perfect for each other.


Sean: It's not your fault.


Will: See, the sad thing about a guy like you is, in 50 years you're gonna start doin' some thinkin' on your own and you're going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life: one, don't do that, and two, you dropped 150 grand on a fuckin' education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!

Clark: Yeah, but I will have a degree. And you'll be servin' my kids fries at a drive-thru on our way to a skiing trip.

Will: Yeah, maybe. But at least I won't be unoriginal.


Sean: Son of a bitch... He stole my line.


Skylar: [before leaving the bar to catch up with his friends] Maybe we could go out for coffee sometime?

Will: Great, or maybe we could get together and just eat a bunch of caramels.

Skylar: What?

Will: When you think about it, it's just as arbitrary as drinking coffee.


Sean: [in a gentlemen's bar] Hey, Gerry, In the 1960s there was a young man that graduated from the University of Michigan. Did some brilliant work in mathematics. Specifically bounded harmonic functions. Then he went on to Berkeley. He was assistant professor. Showed amazing potential. Then he moved to Montana, and blew the competition away.

Lambeau: Yeah, so who was he?

Sean: Ted Kaczynski.

Lambeau: Haven't heard of him.

Sean: [yelling to the bartender] Hey, Timmy!

Timmy: Yo.

Sean: Who's Ted Kaczynski?

Timmy: Unabomber.

[Lambeau winces as he realizes the point Sean is making]


Will: [talking through the outside of the glass windows at Dunkin Donuts] Do you like apples?

Clark: [talking through the glass on the inside] Yeah.

Will: Well, I got her number. How do you like them apples?


Will: I read your book last night.

Sean: So you're the one.


Sean: You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to.


Sean: [about Will to Gerald] He pushes people away before they get a chance to leave him. It's a defense mechanism. And for 20 years he's been alone because of that. And if you push him right now, it's gonna be the same thing all over again and I'm not gonna let that happen to him.


Chuckie: Look, you're my best friend, so don't take this the wrong way but, in 20 years if you're still livin' here, comin' over to my house, watchin' the Patriots games, workin' construction, I'll fuckin' kill ya. That's not a threat, that's a fact, I'll fuckin' kill ya.

Will: What the fuck you talkin' about?

Chuckie: You got somethin' none of us have...

Will: Oh, come on! What? Why is it always this? I mean, I fuckin' owe it to myself to do this or that. What if I don't want to?

Chuckie: No. No, no no no. Fuck you, you don't owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me. Cuz tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and I'll be 50, and I'll still be doin' this shit. And that's all right. That's fine. I mean, you're sittin' on a winnin' lottery ticket. And you're too much of a pussy to cash it in, and that's bullshit. 'Cause I'd do fuckin' anything to have what you got. So would any of these fuckin' guys. It'd be an insult to us if you're still here in 20 years. Hangin' around here is a fuckin' waste of your time.


Will: Beethoven, okay. He looked at a piano, and it just made sense to him. He could just play.

Skylar: So what are you saying? You play the piano?

Will: No, not a lick. I mean, I look at a piano, I see a bunch of keys, three pedals, and a box of wood. But Beethoven, Mozart, they saw it, they could just play. I couldn't paint you a picture, I probably can't hit the ball out of Fenway, and I can't play the piano.

Skylar: But you can do my organic chemistry paper in under an hour.

Will: Right. Well, I mean when it came to stuff like that... I could always just play.


Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You're an orphan right?

[Will nods]

Sean: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally... I don't give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can't learn anything from you, I can't read in some fuckin' book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't want to do that do you sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.25

Impact/Significance: 9.25

Novelty: 7.75

Classic-ness: 8.5

Rewatchability: 8.63

Audience Score: 9.35 (93% Google, 94% RT)

Total: 51.73


Remaining Questions:

  • Does Will find Skylar?

  • Do Will and Sean ever see each other again?

  • Does Will ever see Chuckie again?

  • Is actually knowing what you want one of life's great gifts?

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