Good Will Hunting

  • Review Date: May 6, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Moving story of brilliant, troubled youth for older teens.
  • Review Date: May 6, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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.

Positive role models

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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."

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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), 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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

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?

QUALITY
 

Mature teens will appreciate GOOD WILL HUNTING -- which earned a writing Oscar for Damon and co-star Ben Affleck -- as a story about a brilliant young man with a troubled past. Both gritty and moving, it's a powerful tale of realizing your potential -- and the often-painful realities of growing up.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about friendship. 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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 1999
DVD release date:December 8, 1998
Cast:Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Robin Williams
Director:Gus Van Sant
Studio:Miramax
Genre:Drama
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:very strong language, sexual references and situations, and some violence

This review of Good Will Hunting was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bygenericscreenname1 October 9, 2009
AGE
15
QUALITY
 
good story would be better with less language
Teen, 15 years old Written byehh108 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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 of humor here. I remeber this movie was a big deal because MAtt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the script themselves when they were probably in their very young twenties, and wond the Academy for Best Original Screenplay. It was also important for Damon and Affleck, because it helped launch their careers as actors, and they actually refused to give the movie studio the script unless they were going to star in it (which would have been a risk back then, since neither of the two had been considered that good of actors). As for content, this movie was ALSO a big deal because they used the f-bomb about 150 times. However, don't let that deter you from this excellent movie. And if you have to, you can always watch it on TV where they say "freaking" instead (though the commercials do kind of cut into the experience).

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