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Good Will Hunting

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

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 45 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

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 byAshleyLamo13 April 15, 2016

MIT Janitor Genius

I gave this movie 5 out of 5 stars because it was so so amazing! Matt Damon and Ben Afleck both worked to write this movie script and it was beautifully execute... Continue reading
Adult Written byMovieMania76 May 17, 2011

Perfect for Mature Teens

This movie was exceptional, and had a great positive message. There was a lot of language, but nothing a mature teen can handle. There is also a brief section o... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008

Now I remember why I love this movie so much...

I recently rewatched this movie on DVD, seeing as the last time I had seen it was almost a year ago. It is an absolutely excellent drama with the right amount o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bygenericscreenname1 October 9, 2009
good story would be better with less language

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

Character Strengths

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