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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
- In theaters: October 1, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: December 8, 1998
- Cast: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Robin Williams
- Director: Gus Van Sant
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: STEM
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Integrity
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: very strong language, sexual references and situations, and some violence
- Last updated: September 17, 2020
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