Good Will Hunting (review by Doug Smith)

Hey, look, I’m actually featuring a good movie on my site! It even won an Oscar for best screenplay! Wow, huh? This movie revolves around a 20-year-old genius, who got a few tough breaks as a kid and now pushes everyone away before they can get too close. An MIT professor discovers the boy’s gift for math, and hooks him up with a shrink to try to fix his problems.

Matt Damon, the older version of Leonardo DiCaprio, stars as the title character. Robin Williams, who used to be somewhat funny when he was still on crack and before he became Disney-ized, plays psychologist Sean Maguire. Ben Affleck plays Will’s best friend Chuckie. At one point, director Gus Van Sant asked Ben and Matt to write a scene in which Chuckie dies. Obviously, they didn’t do it, but wouldn’t it have been nice if the director of “Armageddon” made the same request for Ben’s character in that? Minnie Driver plays a really small chauffeur and Will’s love interest. Stellan Skarsgård plays pompous MIT professor Gerald Lambeau, the guy who discovers Will.

The movie opens with some music by Danny Elfman that surprisingly doesn’t sound like the Batman or Beetlejuice orchestral themes. We come upon Will, going over his newest issue of Playboy, then we flash to a scene of a dozing, pudgy old lady, and then Chuckie gives Will a ride a to his job as a janitor at MIT.

Okay, that’s enough action for now. Over to MIT, where Professor Lambeau is telling his class that whoever proves a complicated formula on the chalkboard in the hall will go on to fame and fortune. I’m pretty sure the problem had something to do with how they cram all that gram. Will, of course, notices the problem while he’s mopping the floors and proves it the next day without anyone knowing. After nobody comes forward to claim their prize, Professor Lambeau puts a new problem up. I think this one is supposed to determine once and for all just how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

After a couple scenes of Will and his friends tossing profanities at one another, Will beats the crap out of someone and ends up being arrested. Yup, there’s the genius in him showing. After he’s let out to await his court appearance, he goes back to work and gets caught working on a new problem on the aforementioned chalkboard. The professor notices Will standing there and, being the oh-so-smart fellow that he is, neglects to look at the chalkboard before telling him he can’t graffiti there. Will simply tells him to go fuck himself. Ha-ha! What a battle of wits! The professor returns to the board and realizes that what Will was writing is correct.

A couple nights later, Will and his posse go to a Harvard bar, where he embarrasses the hell out of a Michael Bolton lookalike who tries to be smart by reciting obscure passages out of books, even though he doesn’t know what the hell they mean. The frightening thing is the guy reminds me of pretty much all my classmates in high school. Will also meets an English girl named Skyler, who is impressed by his knowledge.

Next, we go to Will’s court arraignment, where prosecutor Dan Quayle doesn’t want the case dismissed. The judge, after going over Will’s rap sheet, agrees. Bail is set at $50,000 and a court date is set. Will calls Skyler from jail and asks if she’s pre-law. Way to impress the chicks!

Fortunately for Will, Professor Lambeau has discovered who he is and gets him out of jail by making with an agreement with the judge. The agreement involves meeting with Lambeau once a week, and also seeing a therapist. Will doesn’t entirely mind the math aspect, but isn’t really too fond of the therapist part. However, after going over his options, he realizes that it’s better to talk to a shrink than to be Bubba’s bitch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. A few parts could’ve been better, but all in all, it was a pretty good flick. I think that’s the first time I’ve said that on this site. Anyway, I think one of the definite highlights is the scoring of the movie. The orchestral parts were done by Danny Elfman, who’s always been a favorite of mine, and most of the songs were written by Elliott Smith, who seems to be very talented. Matt Damon isn’t the greatest actor I’ve seen – when he has to say lines while standing up, he tends to imitate the actions of a stand-up comedian – but he’s definitely not the worst. I give it 4 yaks.