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IN SHORT: Good characters. Good indie flick.
All you have to do is take a look at the list of names above and, for those of you out there who are into film student heaven, you've got the A-List of indie actors and a director to match. True, Parker Posey is missing, but I think Robin Williams is a fine substitute, don't you?
Actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon developed the characters and story together and then did the wise thing and turned the whole project over to a "real" director. Most independent films (virtually all of the ones Cranky has sat through this year) are from the triple hyphenate writer-director-producer one man workshop. Most all have failed from that one person stretching himself out way too far. Good Will Hunting doesn't have that problem. It's got three strong characters and enough story to keep things moving.
Good Will Hunting is a very simple story of one incredibly sharp, as in genius level intelligence, man in the body of a very lower class kid. Will Hunting (Damon), an orphan who claims to be the 13th of 13 brothers, lives in the part of Boston referred to as Southie, on the other side of the river from the Boston you visit as a tourist, and a stones throw from Cambridge, home of Harvard. Will and his buddies (all Irish kids) spend their money on beer and fight Southie's Italian kids over slights still lingering from kindergarten. For fun, they drive up to Cambridge to pick up collegiate girls and, failing that, to fight the upper class kids. In short, they're totally dead ended at 17.
Will swabs floors at MIT. When no one is looking, he solves incredibly complex mathematical problems posted on a public board by the quite-full-of-himself Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) The prof takes an interest in Will after the boy gets busted for fighting and loses his job (because he didn't show for work). Knowing that a potential Einstein is there to be unleashed, Prof gets will out of jail and into therapy.
Of course, Will thinks therapy is bull. Watching this guy shred shrinks in a delightful number of scenes is great fun. But Will meets his match in an old classmate of the Profs, Sean McGuire (Robin Williams). This being Williams' serious movie for the year, he delivers the top notch performance that we've seen again and again. Add to the mix Minnie Driver as Skylar, the Harvard coed that is intrigued by, and will fall for, this kid. Watching Will stumble through the intricacies of forming a relationship -- something he has never done in his life, you see a real person coming out of a shell. Until those "three little words" rear their ugly little head. Then, he's the boy from the wrong side of the river.
Good Will Hunting is a lot of little stories, as the good "small" flicks are -- boy and girl, boy and shrink, shrink and professor, professor and boy. It's a story of friendships, of loyalty, of a boy shaking off those things to become a man. It's also one of the very few indie films Cranky's seen all year that he's liked.
What I didn't like -- 'cuz I see 150 or so flicks a year -- was stuff I'd seen before in far worse flicks that you've probably never seen. Nothing significant that you should worry about. (Don't worry about me, it's my job.)
Though I've told more of the story than I should, you won't be disappointed when you sit through it. The characters are solid. The acting is fine and director Gus Van Sant keeps everything moving at a nice, though casual, pace.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Good Will Hunting, he would have paid . . .
$7.00 if you don't sit through 150 flicks a year. <sigh>
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