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Good Will Hunting (1997)
Rated PG13

Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin Williams

Rating:
*****
out of
*****

When Will Hunting (Matt Damon) solves a math problem on the blackboard of an MIT class, it propels him into a potentially life-changing situation that he doesn't want. You see, Will isn't a student at MIT, he's a janitor. He also happens to be a genius on the order of Einstein. By solving the theorem, he is hunted down by Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgaard) who wants to benefit from his gift.

The problem is that Will has psychological scars from 20 years of abuse and mistreatment in various foster homes. Rather than use his mental gifts, he prefers the company of his friends (Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck), drinking beer and getting into fights. One such fight lands him in jail. Professor Lambeau manages to work a deal that will allow Will to avoid jail time if he lets Lambeau develop his gift and he visits a therapist.

The mathematical part of this deal is a breeze for Will. He has no problem solving equations and proving theories that take other professors a lifetime's dedication. The therapy part is what doesn't go quite as planned. It seems Lambeau has underestimated Will's attitude toward changing himself and his outlook on life. Various therapists declare Will to be impossible to work with, until Lambeau requests the aid of his former roommate, Sean McGuire (Robin Williams), who has a background similar to Will's.

In their first meeting, Will and McGuire strike up the beginnings of a bond that will cause each character to learn valuable lessons about life and love. Considering that Will has just met a woman, played by Minnie Driver, these lessons couldn't come at a better time.

Good Will Hunting has a lot of great performances and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's script propels the characters along at a good pace and provides a lot of great dialogue. Damon's performance is outstanding, as are the efforts of Robin Williams and Minnie Driver. All are deserving of the multitude of awards and nominations they've received.

The only problem with Good Will Hunting is the neat and tidy ending, which seems to say that a few therapy sessions may just be what someone with 20 years of abuse behind them needs to make everything okay. This oversimplification of psychological and physical abuse isn't something the movie dwells on, but it does weaken the movie's foundation a bit.

Overall, though, Good Will Hunting is a fine example of a good drama with great acting and a great script. Matt Damon is definately an actor to reckon with and not just another pretty face. Anyone who complains about Leonardo DiCaprio not getting an Oscar nomination for Titanic should look at Damon's performance and rethink their opinion.

Trivia: Kevin Smith, responsible for Ben Affleck's other big 1997 movie, Chasing Amy, is one of the executive producers of Good Will Hunting. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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