Good Will Hunting - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Good Will Hunting Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 29, 2010
A heartfelt and deeply honest drama that is most impressive due to the excellent script by Damon and Affleck, which doesn't even let us realize how attached to the characters we grow to become - and I guess we can all forgive it for that sentimental 'it's not your fault' scene.
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2011
Starts off strong but lags towards the end
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2007
An original story concerning a janitor (Matt Damon) who works at MIT, before he is discovered by an arrogant professor (Stellan Skarsgard) after he solves a theorem only a handful of people in the world can figure out. This leads to an unstable but always interesting partnership of the two, which eventually develops into a raw relationship between the young man and the professor's former roommate (Robin Williams), who is a psychiatrist. This is a very well done film, due in large part to the screenplay, which is simply sensational, as well as the overall solid acting, led by Damon, Driver, and the always versatile Williams. Van Sant does an outstanding job capturing the atmosphere of Boston, and implements this backdrop into a tale of human emotion and uncovering brilliance in the most unlikely of situations.
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2014
Brilliant, engaging drama, Good Will Hunting is a near perfect work of drama that boasts impressive performances, direction and a great story. The cast here is well chosen, and the film is terrific in the way that it tells a powerful, memorable story. The script which was written by Affleck and Matt Damon is a terrific piece of writing, and the result shows on-screen, as this is a picture that is sure to grab your attention from start to finish due to its energetic story and intricate performances that really stand out. Good Will Hunting is an accomplished drama, a picture that is sure to appeal to any viewer that enjoys a well crafted work of drama, Gus Van Sant's direction is terrific as well, and he delivers one of his finest films. Robin Williams is also a noteworthy cast member and he can definitely a dramatic role, which really shows off his range, and he did that so well in Dead Poets Society and he would later deliver a blistering, tense performance in One Hour Photo. Here, he is stunning, and opposite Damon, steals the show. Matt Damon would make other stunning picture, but here, he takes on a great role, one that is conflicted, and well fleshed out, and Matt Damon really brings that to light here. He brings out the best out of the character, and he is perfect for the part. With a great script, great cast, and effective, immaculate direction, Good Will Hunting is a stunning picture, one that is thoroughly engaging from start to finish, and it is a highly captivating picture that you won't forget. This is the type of picture that sticks with you long after you've seen, and it's also a film well worth revisiting again and again. The film also showcased the writing talents of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, of which Affleck would later write some stunning films such as The Town and Argo, but here, this was a script he wrote when his career was taking off, and it's great to see that he showed terrific writing skills when his career was taking off. Good Will Hunting is a terrific picture, one that is well worth your time.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2013
It's over-long for a film of its nature, but despite the length, the film does not lag. In fact, it is beautifully filmed, exceptionally acted, brilliantly written, and---in the end---extremely heartwarming. It is a triumph.
Super Reviewer
March 13, 2011
Sean: Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.

"Some people can never believe in themselves, until someone believes in them."

There's nothing too original to say about Good Will Hunting, as everyone who sees it basically ends up spouting out the same stuff. It's a brilliant film, a masterpiece really. It's one of those movies that I could watch on a weekly basis. It's intelligent, it has huge heart, it's funny, it's sad, it's entertaining, and it's about as close to perfection, when it comes to filmmaking, as you can get. This was the movie that allowed Gus Van Sant to take his career where he wanted to, and that makes it an even more special achievement.

Will Hunting works as a janitor at one of the most prestigious schools in the country, M.I.T. When a professor puts a virtually impossible to solve problem up on the chalk board outside of his classroom, Will solves it. The professor tracks him down and gets him out of some legal trouble. All he has to do to avoid jail is work with the professor with math and go to counseling. He's fine with the math, but hates the idea of counseling. As the story goes on he meets a girl and we slowly learn why he is so stuck in the position in life that he is and why he is unwilling and unable to use his unique skill.

What hits you right off the bat with this film is how smooth the dialogue flows, and that's a testament to the writing of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who just won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Then the performances hit you. Damon is phenomenal. Stellan Skasgard is great, even Affleck and Minnie Driver are really good. But everyone knows that Robin Williams steals the show and also, justly, wins a best supporting actor Oscar for his turn as Sean, Will's counselor. Van Sant's direction is also good, but with a screenplay like this and actors on top of their game, it makes it a lot easier.

If you're one of the five people who haven't seen this film, you definitely need to. It's one of those must see movies. It's hard to describe just how good the film is with words, you just need to see it to truly know. 
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2006
Coming off the heels of the sadly underrated but brilliant To Die For, Van Sant made his first overtly mainstream, but no less superb effort, which is this movie.

Co-written by co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, this is the story of Will Hunting- a troubled 20 year-old janitor at MIT with a dark past, and a bad attitude, but an amazing gift for upper level mathematics. He is a genius, but would rather spend his time hanging out with his blue collar buddies in Southie. After secretly solving a challenging math problem posed for students, the professor seeks Will out. Due to some troubles with the law, he's facing jail time, but finds an out. The catch is that he has to do math for MIT and see a therapist. He reluctantly agrees, and despite a rough start, he soon finds himself with a better grasp on both his troubled past and his uncertain future.

Damon and Affleck won Oscars for their script, and Robin Williams won an Oscar for his turn as Will's no-nonsense sage therapist. It's all some very impressive work. and the film itself is quite a marvel. It's a very touching and moving drama with some great life lessons and message, but there's still a decent amount of humor here, too.

The film is well shot, the cast are terrific, and, as I said, there's a strong message. The characters are well crafted and believable, too. It's fine that Van Sant directed this. He's versatile, and his style is pretty fluid, or at least it can be, so he's a fine match. It's a fine film, even if it might be a tad overrated. It does a lot right though, so, even with the hype, give it a chance.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2012
An inspirational tale which has a nice fuzzy affect on those who believe they can do something great, however I really don't think it's that accessible. Will knows he has a talent whereas many people on this earth don't realise it, so it takes away part of the inspiration. It would be better if he didn't know how great he was, and his talent grew over the course of the film. A feel good watch, nonetheless.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ February 5, 2012
The name of the film is as smart and powerful as the movie itself. Good Will Hunting is about a janitor (Damon) who doesn't use his outstanding intelligence the way he should, consequently he fails to live his life to his full potential. A therapist (Williams)is hired to boost his confidence and open his eyes. And it's pretty predictable when it unfolds, but this movie is proof that emotional performances and heart can be just as entertaining as a film with a well constructed plot. Sommetimes it got scary and/or funny. It's a drama that deserves to remain a classic because it's a deeply inspiring movie and I loved watching it.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2009
Although now Matt Damon is a bona fide superstar with an action trilogy and a heist trilogy both securely under his belt, there was a time when he wasn't so well known as to have his own marionette in Team America. With a few bit parts and a couple of supporting roles behind him, Damon had yet to make any sort of lasting mark on cinema. Ben Affleck, similarly, hadn't yet moved into the legitimate public eye, despite roles in Chasing Amy and Dazed and Confused. Then there was Good Will Hunting.

The story follows a South Boston construction worker with an unusual gift for mathematics. After he's discovered by an MIT professor and put under his supervision as a result of an assault charge, he's suddenly faced with a lot of important decisions.

Gus Van Sant's direction here is flawlessly old school. Long, lingering shots with minimalist camera work and just the right amount of emotion makes for some beautifully restrained work. Think David Fincher's work with the Social Network but with less cutting. The nature of the film demands a careful balance of humour and emotion and Van Sant never drops the ball. When it's supposed to be funny, you'll be laughing. When you're meant to be sad, there will be tears. Despite his often childlike apporach to the material, he is able to be unflinchingly mature in the moments that call for it. It's this versatility which is the mark of a great director that Van Sant displays so intuitively here.

Good Will Hunting also features one of Danny Elfman's more diverse compositions, a bittersweet combination of keys and strings with a lilting pipe tune which stays with you for a while. It may verge on twee on the odd occassion but it's used with enough restraint that it doesn't become a crutch or substitute for real emotion. The real standout of the soundtrack is Elliott Smith's Oscar nominated song "Miss Misery." Hitting just the right note, his full stop at the end of the film is sweetly depressing as well as marking a new chapter for our main character.

Speaking of the Academy Awards, one of the biggest draws of the film is the Oscar winning script penned by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Thirteen years on and it's still as powerful as it ever was, managing to walk the line between stilted and realistic with an uncanny instinct for everyday conversations and natural dialogue. Even Will's super smart outbursts are grounded by the film's realistic feel. But the screenplay's greatest achievement is the raw emotion that it is capable of evoking. Scenes such as Skylah and Will's fight in the dorm room linger in the mind long after the final credits have rolled. In particular the dialogue between Will and Sean is incredibly powerful, their exchanges both layered and meaningful. Their relationship development is incredibly rewarding, moving from the sizing up of two boys from Southie to two friends with grace and realism. The elegance and simplicity of the plot is astoundingly straightforward with no sudden, attention seeking twists or unstable divergences, instead focussing on extracting every moment of nuance and emotion from various conversations between the characters. It's an incredible achievement, especially in light of the fact that it's the writing debut of Damon and Affleck.

The two of them don't let down in the acting department either, with both of them turning in brilliant performances. Damon's character is the main character of the piece and as such his performance is more rewarding in depth and evolution but Affleck does well with the screentime allotted to him. He is funny and loudmouthed as well as playing the role of Will's best friend with uncharacteristic restraint. Damon's performance easily outshines him, however, moving from dangerously inflamed to easy-going with style. Jason Bourne may be his best known character but his performance here is so beautifully vulnerable and simply realistic that it's easily his best performance to date. His love interest in the film is a delightful Minnie Driver who is able to evoke a goofy sense of humour at times while being undeniably powerful in the more emotional scenes. But the star here is Robin Williams, the manic stand-up bringing forth an incredible performance filled with nuance and humour as well as depth and vulnerability. His delivery of some exquisitely crafted speeches make an incredible document almost obsolete with such astounding timing and realism that it's difficult to tell where the acting ends and Williams begins. He is quietly, understatedly brilliant in the midst of an incredible cast.

With an eternally brilliant script, beautiful direction and amazing performances all round, Good Will Hunting is as close to perfect as movies get.

Defining Scene:
Tough one to pick but it has to be Sean and Will's second meeting. A rivetting piece of acting from Williams combined with one of the best monologues in the film.

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

I read your book last night.
So you're the one.

What if I said I wouldn't have sex with you again 'til I got to meet your friends; what would you say?
I'd say it's 4:30 in the morning; they're probably up.

Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.

You're legally allowed to drink now, so we figured the best thing for you was a car.

Look - you're my best friend, so don't take this the wrong way. In twenty years, if you're still livin' here, comin' over to my house to watch the Patriots games, still workin' construction, I'll fuckin' kill you. That's not a threat; now, that's a fact. I'll fuckin' kill you.

So this is a Harvard bar, huh? I thought there'd be equations and shit on the wall.

See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in fifty years you're gonna start doin some thinkin on your own and you're gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One, don't do that. And two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in law away charges at the public library.

Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.
Super Reviewer
½ October 29, 2011
I'll give it this, I never would have thought the two actors Affleck and Damon (In their frat boy prime) could write something I could take serious. But I did enjoy it. Dident love it like some filmmakers and watchers prase but it was entertaining... I still think the sequal featured in "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back" should be released. I would pay to see that!
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
Great performances from Damon, Affleck and Williams. Van Sant finally received box office success with this film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2011
Every time I watch "Good Will Hunting" I am taken aback. I always forget how simple, elegant and honest this film is. How exquisitely acted and directed it is. Gus Van Sant knew exactly how to handle Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's screenplay. By letting the story speak for itself and foregoing the intrusion of directorial flourishes, Van Sant makes a powerful story speak even louder. This is a story than can speak to anyone and Van Sant lets that happen. "Good Will Hunting" is a 90s classic for all the right reasons and it's a lovely example of purely great filmmaking. Each filmic aspect comes together perfectly for a wonderful final product.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
I know a lot of people hold this film in high esteem, but I found it oh so boring. It's predictable and there are a lot of other similar movies that came before it. Plus none of the stars were really good in this movie. I say it's just a so-so drama.
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2008
Some people can never believe in themselves, until someone believes in them.

Very good debut by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck! The story is very original and dynamic which only talented actors as those in it were able to show us the way. Robin Williams and Minne Driver were very good also and were the key for it's success. Overall, I thought this movie was believable and touching, without your typical ending. Sit down to watch this movie with a completely impartial attitude, you will see that it really is beautiful. Enjoy it!

Though Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has genius-level intelligence (such as a talent for memorizing facts and an intuitive ability to prove sophisticated mathematical theorems), he works as a janitor at MIT and lives alone in a sparsely furnished apartment in an impoverished South Boston neighborhood. An abused foster child, he subconsciously blames himself for his unhappy upbringing and turns this self-loathing into a form of self-sabotage in both his professional and emotional lives. Hence, he is unable to maintain either a steady job or a steady romantic relationship.

In the first week of class, Will solves a difficult graduate-level math problem that Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård), a Fields Medalist and combinatorialist, left on a chalkboard as a challenge to his students, hoping someone might solve the problem by the semester's end. Everyone at MIT wonders who solved it, and Lambeau puts another problem on the board -- one that took him and his colleagues two years to prove. Will is discovered in the act of solving the problem, and Lambeau initially thinks that Will is vandalizing the board and chases him away. When Will turns out to have solved it correctly, Lambeau tries to track Will down. Meanwhile, Will attacks a youth who had bullied him 15 years ago in kindergarten, and he now faces imprisonment after attacking a police officer who was responding to the fracas. Realizing Will might have the potential to be a great mathematician, such as the genius Évariste Galois, Lambeau goes to Will's trial and intervenes on his behalf, offering him a choice: either Will can go to jail, or he can be released into Lambeau's personal supervision, where he must study mathematics and see a psychotherapist. Will chooses the latter even though he seems to believe that he does not need therapy.

Five psychologists fail to connect with Will. Out of sheer desperation, Lambeau finally calls on psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), an estranged old friend and MIT classmate of his who grew up in the same neighborhood as Will. Sean differs from his five predecessors in that he pushes back at Will and is eventually able to get through to Will and his hostile, sarcastic defense mechanisms. At one point, Will analyzes a watercolor painting that Sean had done himself and concludes that it reflects Sean's suppressed feelings and guilt over the premature death of his wife. Sean becomes offended and hostile and grabs Will by the throat, threatening to sink his chances for reform. Will ends the appointment and walks out; Lambeau walks in believing that Will had ruined his chances with another therapist, however, Sean sees Will as a challenge and tells Lambeau to bring him back each week.

In a later session Will is particularly struck when Sean tells him how he gave up his ticket to see the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series (thus missing Carlton Fisk's famous home run in Game 6) in order to meet and spend time with a stranger in a bar, who would later become his wife. Will is encouraged to try to establish a relationship with Skylar (Minnie Driver), a young woman he met at a bar near Harvard University.

This doctor-patient relationship, however, is far from one-sided. Will challenges Sean in the same way that Sean is encouraging Will to take a good, hard, objective look at himself and his life. Sean's own pathology is that he is unable and unwilling to even consider a second romantic relationship in the aftermath of his first beloved wife's premature death from cancer several years before. This may well be the primary reason why Sean agrees to take Will on as a client.

Meanwhile, Lambeau pushes Will so hard to excel that Will eventually refuses to go to the job interviews that Lambeau arranged for him for positions that might prove challenging, even to his immense talents. Lambeau and Sean also squabble about Will's future. Will's accidental witnessing of this furious argument somehow acts as a catalyst for his decision to enter a deeper level of trust and sharing with Sean. He has apparently realized from this event that the situation is a little more complex than Will vs. The World. He now sees that these mentors are every bit as human, fallible, and conflicted as he is.

Skylar asks Will to move to California with her, where she will begin medical school at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Will panics at the thought. Skylar then expresses support about his past, which is received as patronization and triggers a tantrum in which Will storms out of the dorm while still in a state of undress. He shrugs off the work he's doing for Lambeau as "a joke," even though Lambeau is incapable of solving some of these theorems and admittedly envies Will. Lambeau begs Will not to throw it all away, but Will walks out on him anyway.

Sean points out that Will is so adept at anticipating future failure in his romantic relationships, that he either allows them to fizzle out or deliberately bails, in order to avoid the risk of future emotional pain. When Will then provides a whimsical reply to Sean's very serious query of what he wants to do with his life, Sean simply shows him the door. When Will further tells his best friend Chuckie (Ben Affleck) that he wants to be a laborer for the rest of his life, Chuckie becomes brutally honest with Will: he feels it's an "insult" for Will to waste his potential as a laborer, and that his recurring wish is to knock on Will's door in the morning when he picks him up for work and find that he just isn't there, that he has left without saying goodbye.

Will goes to another therapy session, where he and Sean share that they were both victims of child abuse. At first, Will is defensive and resentful at Sean's repeated reassurances that "It's not your fault," but he eventually breaks down in tearful acknowledgment. Finally, after much self-reflection, Will decides to cease being a victim of his own inner demons and to take charge of his life. When his buddies present him with a rebuilt Chevrolet Nova for his 21st birthday, he decides to go to California and reunite with Skylar, setting aside his lucrative corporate and government job offers. Will leaves a brief note for Sean explaining what he's doing, using one of Sean's own quips, "I had to go see about a girl." Sean also leaves to travel the world, though not before reconciling with Lambeau. The movie ends as Chuckie poignantly discovers, in fulfillment of his own long-standing wish, that Will has left for a better life. Will is then shown starting his life-affirming drive to California for a new beginning with Skylar and a leap into an unpredictable future.
Super Reviewer
½ February 26, 2010
Good will hunting is about a 20 year old man that cannot get past his past and cannot face the future. . He is a math whiz that works at mit. He had many run ins with the law and the only way he could not go to jail if he does math at mit and go see a therapist once a week. . At first he does very thing in his power to make the therapist does not want to work with him. Will he face his past and move on to the future or will stay on the path he is on now.
Good acting and plot
Funny at times
90's classic
really moving
it really shows what it is like for some people growing up.
Lacking at times
Acting lacking at times
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2011
Fanstastic writing from Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. I really enjoyed this film.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2011
A inspiration by Matt Damon, Williams steals the show
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2007
lightening in a bottle. the film that put damon and affleck on the map, van sants directing was spot on and williams turned in a wonderful performance. a bit silly in some ways, but the film is so good that no one noticed.
Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2011
Superb. The Williams and Damon scenes are incredible.
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