Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting

Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck nabbed one for Best Original Screenplay, but the feel-good hit Good Will Hunting triumphs because of its gifted director, Gus Van Sant. The unconventional director (My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy) saves a script marred by vanity and clunky character development by yanking soulful, touching performances out of his entire cast (amazingly, even one by Williams that's relatively schtick-free). Van Sant pulls off the equivalent of what George Cukor accomplished for women's melodrama in the '30s and '40s: He's crafted an intelligent, unabashedly emotional male weepie about men trying to find inner-wisdom. Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a closet math genius who ignores his gift in favor of nightly boozing and fighting with South Boston buddies (co-writer Ben Affleck among them). While working as a university janitor, he solves an impossible calculus problem scribbled on a hallway blackboard and reluctantly becomes the prodigy of an arrogant MIT professor (Stellan Skarsgård). Damon only avoids prison by agreeing to see psychiatrists, all of whom he mocks or psychologically destroys until he meets his match in the professor's former childhood friend, played by Williams. Both doctor and patient are haunted by the past, and as mutual respect develops, the healing process begins. The film's beauty lies not with grand climaxes, but with small, quiet moments. Scenes such as Affleck's clumsy pep talk to Damon while they drink beer after work, or any number of therapy session between Williams and Damon offer poignant looks at the awkward ways men show affection and feeling for one another. --Dave McCoy

Genre: Drama
Director(s): Gus Van Sant
Production: Miramax Films
  Won 2 Oscars. Another 22 wins & 57 nominations.
 
IMDB:
8.3
Metacritic:
70
Rotten Tomatoes:
97%
R (Restricted)
Year:
1997
126
Website
25,325 Views

Will:
So, when did you know, like, that she was the one for you?

Sean:
October 21st, 1975.

Will:
Jesus Christ. You know the f***in' date?

Sean:
Oh yeah. Cus' it was game six of the World Series. Biggest game in Red Sox history.

Will:
Yeah, sure.

Sean:
My friends and I had, you know, slept out on the sidewalk all night to get tickets.

Will:
You got tickets?

Sean:
Yep. Day of the game. I was sittin' in a bar, waitin' for the game to start, and in walks this girl. Oh it was an amazing game, though. You know, bottom of the 8th Carbo ties it up at a 6-6. It went to 12. Bottom of the 12th, in stepped Carlton Fisk. Old Pudge. Steps up to the plate, you know, and he's got that weird stance.

Will:
Yeah, yeah.

Sean:
And BAM! He clocks it. High fly ball down the left field line! Thirty-five thousand people, on their feet, yellin' at the ball, but that's not because of Fisk. He's wavin' at the ball like a madman.

Will:
Yeah, I've seen...

Sean:
He's going, "Get over! Get over! Get OVER!" And then it HITS the foul pole. OH, he goes apeshit, and 35,000 fans, you know, they charge the field, you know?

Will:
Yeah, and he's f***in' bowlin' police out of the way!

Sean:
Goin', "God! Get out of the way! Get 'em away!" Banging people...

Will:
I can't f***in' believe you had tickets to that f***in' game!

Sean:
Yeah!

Will:
Did you rush the field?

Sean:
No, I didn't rush the f***in' field, I wasn't there.

Will:
What?

Sean:
No - I was in a bar havin' a drink with my future wife.

Will:
You missed Pudge Fisk's homerun?

Sean:
Oh yeah.

Will:
To have a f***in' drink with some lady you never met?

Sean:
Yeah, but you shoulda seen her. She was a stunner.

Will:
Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll give it a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So 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 had a problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "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 was called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some guy from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home 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 my buddy from Southie realizes the only reason he was over there 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 to scare up oil prices so they could turn a quick buck. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And naturally they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and 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 my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the 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 do I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and 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.

Sean:
Thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me... fell into a deep peaceful sleep, and haven't thought about you since. Do you know what occurred to me?

Will:
No.

Sean:
You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.

Will:
Why thank you.

Sean:
It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.

Will:
Nope.

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 f***ing life apart. You're an orphan right?

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 f***in' 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.

Chuckie:
All right, are we gonna have a problem?

Clark:
There's no problem. I was just hoping you could give me some insight into the evolution of the market economy in the southern colonies. My contention is that prior to the Revolutionary War the economic modalities, especially of the southern colonies could most aptly be characterized as agrarian pre-capitalist and...

Will:
[interrupting] Of course that's your contention. You're a first year grad student. You just got finished some Marxian historian, Pete Garrison prob’ly, you’re gonna be convinced of that until next month when you get to James Lemon, then you’re gonna be talkin’ about how the economies of Virginia and Pennsylvania were entrepreneurial and capitalist way back in 1740. That's gonna last until next year, you’re gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talkin’ about you know, the Pre-revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.

Clark:
[taken aback] Well, as a matter of fact, I won't, because Wood drastically underestimates the impact of —

Will:
..."Wood drastically underestimates the impact of social distinctions predicated upon wealth, especially inherited wealth..." You got that from Vickers. "Work in Essex County," Page 98, right? Yeah I read that too. Were you gonna plagiarize the whole thing for us — you have any thoughts of — of your own on this matter? Or do — is that your thing, you come into a bar, you read some obscure passage and then you pretend — you pawn it off as your own — your own idea just to impress some girls? Embarrass my friend?

[Clark is stunned]

Will:
See the sad thing about a guy like you, is in about 50 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 late charges at the Public Library.

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

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

Will:
[about Skylar] Don't worry about me, I know what I'm doin'. Yeah, but this girl is like, you know, beautiful. She's smart. She's funny. She's different from most of the girls I've been with.

Sean:
So, call her up, Romeo.

Will:
Why? So I can realize she's not that smart, that she's fuckin' boring? Y'know? I mean...this girl is like fuckin' perfect right now, I don't wanna ruin that.

Sean:
Maybe you're perfect right now. Maybe you don't wanna ruin that. I think that's a super philosophy, Will, that way you can go through your entire life without ever having to really know anybody...My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful idiosyncrasies. You know what? She used to fart in her sleep. [they laugh] Sorry I shared that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and gone like "oh was that you?" I'd say yeah...I didn't have the heart to tell her...[cracks up] Oh God...

Will:
[laughing hysterically] She woke herself up?

Sean:
[in hysterics himself] Yes!.... Oh Christ....aahhh, but, Will, she's been dead two years and that's the shit I remember. [Will stops laughing] Wonderful stuff, you know, little things like that. Ah, but, those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I knew about. That's what made her my wife. Oh, and she had the goods on me, too; she knew all my little peccadillos. People call these things imperfections, but they're not — aw that's the good stuff. And then we get to choose who we let into our weird little worlds. You're not perfect, sport. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you met, she isn't perfect either. But the question is: whether or not you're perfect for each other. That's the whole deal. That's what intimacy is all about. Now you can know everything in the world, sport, but the only way you're findin' out that one is by givin' it a shot. You certainly won't learn from an old fucker like me. Even if I did know, I wouldn't tell a pissant like you.

Will:
Why not? You told me every other fuckin' thing. Jesus Christ. Fuckin' talk more than any shrink I ever seen in my life.

Sean:
I teach this shit, I didn't say I know how to do it.

Will:
Yeah...You ever think about gettin' remarried?

Sean:
My wife's dead.

Will:
Hence the word: remarried.

Sean:
She's dead.

Will:
Yeah...Well, I think that's a super philosophy, Sean. I mean that way you could actually go through the rest of your life without ever really knowing anybody.

Sean:
[smiles uncomfortably] Time's up.

Will:
So, when did you know, like, that she was the one for you?

Sean:
October 21st, 1975.

Will:
Jesus Christ. You know the fuckin' date?

Sean:
Oh yeah. Cus' it was game six of the World Series. Biggest game in Red Sox history.

Will:
Yeah, sure.

Sean:
My friends and I had, you know, slept out on the sidewalk all night to get tickets.

Will:
You got tickets?

Sean:
Yep. Day of the game. I was sittin' in a bar, waitin' for the game to start, and in walks this girl... Oh it was an amazing game, though. You know, bottom of the 8th Carbo ties it up at a 6-6. It went to 12. Bottom of the 12th, in stepped Carlton Fisk. Old Pudge. Steps up to the plate, you know, and he's got that weird stance.

Will:
Yeah, yeah.

Sean:
And BAM! He clocks it. High fly ball down the left field line! Thirty-five thousand people, on their feet, yellin' at the ball, but that's not because of Fisk. He's wavin' at the ball like a madman.

Will:
Yeah, I've seen...

Sean:
He's going, "Get over! Get over! Get OVER!" And then it HITS the foul pole. OH, he goes apeshit, and 35,000 fans, you know, they charge the field, you know?

Will:
Yeah, and he's fuckin' bowlin' police out of the way!

Sean:
Goin', "God! Get out of the way! Get 'em away!" Banging people...

Will:
I can't fuckin' believe you had tickets to that fuckin' game!

Sean:
Yeah!

Will:
Did you rush the field?

Sean:
No, I didn't rush the fuckin' field, I wasn't there.

Will:
What?

Sean:
No — I was in a bar havin' a drink with my future wife.

Will:
You missed Pudge Fisk's homerun?

Sean:
Oh yeah.

Will:
To have a fuckin' drink with some lady you never met?

Sean:
Yeah, but you shoulda seen her. She was a stunner.

Will:
I don't care if Helen of Troy walks in the room, that's game six!

Sean:
Oh, Helen of Troy...

Will:
Oh my God, and who are these fuckin' friends of yours they let you get away with that?

Sean:
Oh... They had to.

Will:
W-w-w-what'd you say to them?

Sean:
I just slid my ticket across the table and I said, "Sorry guys, I gotta see about a girl."

Will:
I gotta go see about a girl?

Sean:
Yeah.

Will:
That's what you said? And they let you get away with that?

Sean:
Oh yeah. They saw in my eyes that I meant it.

Will:
You're kiddin' me.

Sean:
No, I'm not kiddin' you, Will. That's why I'm not talkin' right now about some girl I saw at a bar twenty years ago and how I always regretted not going over and talking to her. I don't regret the 18 years I was married to Nancy. I don't regret the six years I had to give up counseling when she got sick. And I don't regret the last years when she got really sick. And I sure as hell don't regret missin' the damn game. That's regret.

[pause]

Will:
Wow... [smiles] Woulda been nice to catch that game, though.

Sean:
[shrugs sheepishly] I didn't know Pudge was gonna hit a homer!

Executive 1:
Well, Will, I'm not exactly sure what you mean, we've already offered you a position..

Chuckie:
Since this is obviously not my first time in such altercations, let me say this: [rubs thumb and fingers together, signifying cash] Look, we can do this the easy way or the hard way.

[The executives are silent]

Chuckie:
At the current time I am looking at a number of different fields from which to disseminate which offer is most pursuant to my benefit. What do you want? What do I want? What does anybody want? Leniency.

Executive 1:
I'm not sure--

Chuckie:
--These circumstances are mitigated. Right now. They're mitigated. [throws his hands up]

Executive 1:
Okay...

Chuckie:
[pointing to one of the executives] He knows what I'm talking about. A retainer. Nobody in this town works without a retainer. You think you can find someone who does, you have my blessin'. But I think we all know that person isn't going to represent you as well as I can.

Executive 1:
Will, our offer starts you at $84,000 a year, plus benefits.

Chuckie:
[singing] Retainer... [softly] retainer.

Executive:
You want us to give you cash right now?

Chuckie:
Whoa-oh-oh... ea--now I didn't say that. Allegedly, your situation — for you — would be concurrently improved if I had $200 in my back pocket right now.

[The executives exchange looks and go for their wallets.]

Executive 1:
Well, I don't think I...Larry?

Executive 2:
I've got, uh... $73.

Executive 1:
Will you take a check?

Chuckie:
[to Executive 1] Let me tell you something. You're suspect. [He stands, slowly approaches Executives.] Yeah, you. I don't know what your reputation is in this town, but after the shit you tried to pull today, you can bet I'll be looking into you. [Takes money off the table]. Now the business we have heretofore you can speak with my aforementioned attorney. Good day gentlemen, and until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.

Sean:
Right. My dad laid brick. Okay? Busted his ass so I could have an education.

Will:
Exactly. That's an honorable profession. What's wrong with...with fixing somebody's car. Someone can get to work the next day because of me. There's honor in that.

Sean:
Yeah, there is, Will. There is honor in that. And there's honor in, you know, taking that forty minute train ride so those college kids come in the morning and the floors are clean and the wastebaskets are empty. That's real work.

Will:
That's right.

Sean:
Right. And that's honorable. I'm sure that's why you took that job, I mean, for the honor of it. I just have a little question here. You could be a janitor anywhere. Why did you work at the most prestigious technical college in the whole fuckin' world? And why did you sneak around at night and finish other people's formulas that only one or two people in the world could do, and then lie about it? Cuz' I don't see a lot of honor in that, Will. So, what do you really want to do?

Will:
I wanna' be a shepherd.

Sean:
Really.

Will:
I wanna move up to Nashua get a nice little spread get some sheep and tend to them.

Sean:
Maybe you should go do that.

Will:
What?

Sean:
You know, if you're going to jerk off, why don't you just do it at home with a moist towel?

Will:
You're chuckin' me?

Sean:
Yeah, get the fuck out.

Will:
Hey, no, no, no. Time's not up, yet.

Sean:
Yeah it is.

Will:
I'm not leavin'. No!

Sean:
Listen. You're not going to answer my questions, you're wasting my fuckin' time.

Will:
What? I thought we were friends. Whaddaya mean you -

Sean:
Playtime's over, okay?

Chuckie:
Look, you're my best friend, so don't take this the wrong way. In 20 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, that's a fact. I'll fuckin' kill you.

Will:
What the fuck are you talkin' about?

Chuckie:
Look, you got somethin' that none of us —

Will:
Oh, come on! 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. You owe it to me. 'Cause tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and I'll be 50. And I'll still be doing this shit. And that's all right, that's fine. I mean, you're sittin' on a winning lottery ticket and you're too much of a pussy to cash it in. And that's bullshit. `Cause I'd do anything to fuckin' 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. Hanging around here is a fuckin' waste of your time.

Will:
You don't know that.

Chuckie:
I don't?

Will:
No. You don't know that.

Chuckie:
Oh, I don't know that? Let me tell you what I do know. Every day I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out we have a few drinks and a few laughs, and it's great. You know what the best part of my day is? It's for about 10 seconds from when I pull up to the curb to when I get to your door. Because I think maybe I'll get up there and I'll knock on the door and you won't be there. No goodbye, no see you later, no nothin'. Just left. I don't know much, but I know that.

Will:
[Sean is going through Will's profile. Inside we see are pictures of Will after brutal assaults by his foster parents] You ever have any, uh, experience with that?

Sean:
Twenty years of counseling, I've seen some pretty awful shit.

Will:
No. I mean, have you ever had any experience with that?

Sean:
You mean, personally? Yeah. Yeah I have.

[Sean looks away for a moment]

Will:
I'm sure it ain't good.

Sean:
My father was an alcoholic. Mean fuckin' drunk. Used to come home hammered, looking to whale on someone. So I would provoke him, so he wouldn't go after my mother and little brother. Interesting nights were when he wore his rings...

Will:
He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, "Choose."

Sean:
Well, I gotta go with the belt there, Vanna.

Will:
I used to go with the wrench.

Sean:
Why?

Will:
Cause fuck him, that' why.

Sean:
Your foster father?

Will:
Yeah.

[pause]

Will:
[looking at his file] So what does it say? Will has an attachment disorder? Fear of abandonment? Is that why I broke up with Skylar?

Sean:
Didn't know you had. Wanna talk about it?

[Will shakes his head, stares off]

Sean:
Will, you see this, all this shit?

[Holds up the file, and drops it on his desk]

Sean:
It's not your fault.

Will:
[Softly, still staring off] I know...

Sean:
No you don't. It's not your fault.

Will:
[Serious] I know.

Sean:
No. Listen to me son. It's not your fault.

Will:
I know that.

Sean:
It's not your fault.

[Will is silent, eyes closed]

Sean:
[steps closer] It's not your fault.

Will:
[choking up] Don't fuck with me, Sean. Not you.

Sean:
[steps even closer] It's not your fault.

[Will shoves Sean back, and then, hands trembling, buries his face in his hands. Will begins sobbing. Sean puts his hands on Will's shoulders, and Will grabs him and holds him close, crying]

Will:
Oh my God! I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry Sean!

Sean:
Fuck them, OK?

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