Guest Post: “Good Will Hunting” Movie Review

~This week’s review comes from Josiah Gulick, a student at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is studying for a Bachelors of Science in Arabic and Spanish with a goal of being able to minister to and evangelize those people in their own language. He is a close brother in Christ and a true man of God. It is my honor to post another one of his reviews here for your reading pleasure.~

The Plot

Good Will Hunting is an award-winning drama starring Matt Damon and Ben Afleck. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a young man from a broken home who is a janitor at MIT. We learn early in the movie that Will is a genius. He solves a problem in one night that the premier mathematics professor at MIT put on the board to challenge his students for the entire semester. He easily solves problems that the most accomplished math professors struggle with. However, Will has a dark side. He is arrogant, selfish, and disrespectful of authority. He ends up in jail multiple times for fighting and we learn that he has quite the rap sheet. Then the math professor from MIT takes him under his wing and tries to smooth Will’s rough edges. They go through five counselors and therapists before one finally begins to form a relationship with Will. The plot of the movie revolves around the MIT professor trying to get Will to use his genius, Will maintaining his defensive shell, and the psychologist trying to learn what makes Will tick.

Things I liked

The one good message of the movie is that Love conquers all. Will has a circle of friends from his old neighborhood that stick by him through every tough situation he endures. Will also meets a girl who shows him the power of unconditional love. The movie effectively shows unconditional love in every situation and puts a human face on the love God has for us. Additionally, the acting is SUPERB, the plot is riveting, and there are several instances of truly funny comedic relief. And we see two old friends reunite with regret and forgiveness for past sins.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie portrays the poor side of Boston quite realistically, and this means that the dialogue is dirty and explicit, there are several bar scenes, and a few fights. Alcohol plays a major role in this movie, and it is shown as abused and used as an escape. There are two sensual scenes, but no nudity (though we do see Will in his boxers). Cursing is prevalent in the movie–almost every sentence includes it. Also, there is blatant disrespect for authority (including the law) that we don’t see rectified.

Worldview

The main premise behind the movie is that man is basically good and only his environment drives him to do evil. Will’s sinful acts are not his fault and he refuses to (and no one encourages him to) take responsibility. On the other hand, we do see that unconditional love from people change Will, but nothing is said of an eternal hope or repentance of sins. Will never tries to make restitution for his wrong-doing or even recognizes sin as a problem. The movie tells us the fundamental problem is that he doesn’t trust other people enough.
Additionally, materialism is strongly preached as a way to be happy.

Conclusion

While the movie effectively portrays the power of unconditional love, it does so through a humanistic foundation. There is a large amount of “poop” in this brownie in the form of the explicit cursing, alcoholism, sensuality, and disrespect for authority. While I enjoyed some parts of the movie, it left me saddened that it portrayed man’s sin yet gave no effective remedy for it. I would not watch it again nor advise anyone else to see it.

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