Good Will Hunting   3 Disembodied Jet Wolf Heads out of Five
"How'd you like them apples?"
Sunday, 22 March 1998
NOTE: Review salvaged from the original HoF. Contents may have shifted during takeoff and landing.

Jet Wolf Says ...

Sort of like Equus, only without all the horses.

It's your traditional story: Boy sits alone in squalid apartment and reads text books. Boy anonymously solves mathematical problems intended for promising young students while mopping the floors during his day job. Boy gets into fights. Boy gets arrested. Boy is bailed out by professor who recognizes his genius and tries to harness it. Boy enters therapy. Boy meets new british girl. Boy loses new british girl. Boy screws with important companies offering him extremely overpriced jobs. Boy turns 21. Boy drives to California after new britsh girl.

Robin Williams works in somehow.

I'm being hard on the movie, but really, it wasn't all that bad. It went on to win Best Screenplay, and it really did deserve it. The dialogue was incredible in places (my favourite being the scene in which Will delivers a monologue explaining why he will never work for the governmental intelligence agencies), and despite a few flaws and an overabudance of annoying accents (I'm almost prejudiced against Boston for all eternity now, and would say the same for Britain if it wouldn't be like insulting my mother) the characters were also very interesting. Irritating in places, yes, but interesting.

Sort of like Equus, only without all the horses.

So why all these problems? It seemed to me as if one of the major premises of the movie was nothing more than a plot device, for the other, and it really struck a bad cord for me. Looking back at Good Will Hunting, it's difficult to say if it's a movie about a tormented young man coming to grips with his past and healing his emotional scars (which, to me, is what the theme SHOULD have been), or about a boy genius who has to juggle what he wants to be with what is expected of him by his peers. But the movie tries to be both, and as such, I feel it suffers from a monumental case of indecision and neither theme works. Why couldn't Will have been a normal young man who undergoes therapy to work through his problems? Why couldn't he have been gifted with a genius that he never wanted? I have no idea why one idea couldn't have been settled upon, I think the movie would have benefitted immensely from someone picking a direction and sticking with it. Instead, I came out of the movie thinking that both aspects were cheapened, and lemme tell you, I didn't like it.

But that's not the only reason that I've been reluctant to do my review. Hyper-intellect aside, I saw a bit more of myself in Will than I was even remotely comfortable with. Due to the fact that, with the help of some very loving friends, I've been working on my own problems, everything's a bit raw and sensitive at the moment. I mention this because it's possible that I'm more biased against Good Will Hunting than I should be ... but I don't think so. I've spoken to several people who loved this movie and found no fault with it - but then, these are also the same people who completely missed the symbolism in at the end of Titanic, and can barely stop drooling over Matt Damon long enough to confirm their approval. So I take that with a grain of salt.

But the dialogue is superb, Robin Williams is fantastic, and, essentially, it's a good little movie. If you like that sort of thing.

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