Good Will Hunting

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Good Will Hunting Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Moving story of brilliant, troubled youth for older teens.
  • R
  • 1999
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 29 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 65 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie sends the message that finding your special gifts can rescue even the most seemingly powerless individuals from hard lives. It also says that love and commitment are incomparable sources of healing and change and that true friendship is selfless, not envious. Themes include compassion, empathy, communication and integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The story follows an angry, bitter, self-destructive young man who's transformed by caring, unselfish relationships. Two college teachers are portrayed as having distinctly different motivations: One is dedicated to advancing science while the other hopes to enable his student to transcend an abusive childhood, realize his full potential, and find a balance in life.


One violent fist fight early in the film: Street toughs attack another group of young men in a no-holds-barred kicking and punching session. Police arrive and take control by pummeling the participants. Also references to the lead character’s suffering physical abuse at the hands of a parent.


Both gentle and passionate kissing in several scenes. In one post-sexual moment, a couple cuddles and kisses. In one scene masturbation is inferred but not shown.


Very frequent strong language includes many uses of "f--k" in numerous forms, as well as words like "s--t," "bitch," "prick," "a--hole," "retard," and "balls" and phrases/terms like "up your a--," "jerking off," and "douchebag."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In the South Boston culture portrayed here, the young men consistently hang out in bars, and smoking and drinking play a major part in their socializing. College kids and teachers are also seen using alcohol as an integral part of their social activity.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite a constant onslaught of angry, sexual, and insulting language ("f--k" and its comrades "s--t," "retard," and "a--hole" are used incessantly, as are other salty words and terms) in Good Will Hunting, mature teens and adults will find this Oscar-winning drama about a self-destructive young man who's transformed by caring relationships to be an uplifting and inspiring story. One street brawl early in the film includes bloody fistfights, kicking, and pounding; sexuality includes some passionate kissing, post-sexual cuddling, and one session of inferred masturbation. The young people -- both college students and street kids -- drink beer and other alcohol throughout the movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnonymousPenguin25 March 26, 2021

Had potential

I watched this as an adult and was uncomfortable with the language (IMDb says the f-bomb is used 154 times) and sexual references. Most definitely not for kids... Continue reading
Adult Written byLilea rermeg October 9, 2020

Love it and appropriate for teens

Literally my all time favorite movie. Yes, the amount of sex and sexual references is a little annoying but the positive messages definitely make up for it. It’... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylebam13 July 18, 2020

My favorite movie and incredible

This movie was so deep and moving and lovely, I was bawling by the end! I can't recommend this movie enough, too good for words! Please watch it :) Lots o... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bythomas oregon July 30, 2020

depends on your kid

Good Will Hunting is by far one of the best movies of all time, but in my opinion i really think it depends on your kid. there is constant swearing throughout... Continue reading

What's the story?

In GOOD WILL HUNTING, Will (Matt Damon), who grew up as an abused foster child in tough South Boston, works as a janitor at MIT. When he solves complicated math problems that stumped the students, a professor searches for him, only to find that he's in jail for hitting a policeman. The professor promises that he'll work with Will and will get him psychiatric help. When Will manages to scare off a string of therapists, the professor seeks out his estranged friend from college, Sean (Robin Williams). Like Will, Sean is the survivor of a tough Southie upbringing is still struggling with his own loss -- which means Sean is able to help Will realize that he's not betraying his friends by using his gifts to enlarge his world. Along the way, Will falls in love with Harvard pre-med student Skylar (Minnie Driver). She and Sean teach him that the walls he built to protect himself from pain are no longer needed and are in fact getting in his way.

Is it any good?

Mature teens will appreciate this movie -- which earned a writing Oscar for Damon and co-star Ben Affleck -- as a compelling story about a brilliant young man with a troubled past. Both gritty and moving, Good Will Hunting is a powerful tale of realizing your potential -- and the often-painful realities of growing up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about friendship in Good Will Hunting. How do friends help and hinder each other in this movie? Do their relationships seem realistic?

  • How does the movie portray sex and drinking? Parents, talk to your teens about your own family's perspective on these topics.

  • How do the characters in Good Will Hunting demonstrate communication, compassion, empathy, and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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