#122: Good Will Hunting (1997)

When and how did I watch this?

June 22nd and 23rd, 2016, on Netflix.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I recall that this film was a really big deal when it came out.  I didn’t particularly care about Matt Damon, but I knew Robin Williams well enough as a comedian (a la Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Hook) to make an assessment that it might be worth watching someday. As my free time diminished after high school and through college, it kind of got lost in my memory.

What do I know about it now?

I feel like I’d seen other movies just like this — smart guy gets discovered, but teacher tries to get through to him so he realizes his full potential, etc. — but this one felt more human to me.  I both loved and hated Will, who thrives on sarcasm and shows a disconnect and complacency to reality that we’ve undergone in our own lives.  Even his approach to his love interest is temporal until the final epiphany occurs. I enjoyed the unfiltered relationship, both serious and playful, between the real life best buddies and co-writers Affleck and Damon, who could’ve played the heart-throb roles but turned their back on the stereotype quickly.  Of course, Williams is brilliant, his character delivering tremendous insight to Will while dealing with his own conflict, both within and among peers.

What are some themes in the film?

Potential, abuse/neglect, death, the education system/bureaucracy, love, friendship

Did this affect me personally?

Indeed.  A candid conversation between Will and Chuckie was striking, whereas Chuckie communicates his desire to see Will somewhere else besides the situation he has placed himself in. Emotional breakdowns can be awkward on screen as well, but Damon’s epiphany and outpouring seemed true to me.

Why is this ranked #122?

Featuring a young Damon and Affleck helps, but I would guess that many of the profound lines presented are what give the film bearing and a high rating for many.  A bonus boost is likely due to Williams’ premature death.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She did.  She found the bar scene near the beginning particularly hilarious.

Would I watch it again?

It’s an emotional ride, but I think I’d go for it again.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  Everything about it is excellent.  You have two incredible actors, now legends, in Damon and Williams working harmoniously, an interesting story, a fitting score, a human love story, and character development leading to a fitting finish.

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