Good Will Hunting DVD

Actors are always complaining that there just are not enough good scripts floating around. Instead of complaining, actors Matt Damon (The Rainmaker) and Ben Affleck (Chasing Amy) wrote a screenplay for themselves. “Good Willing Hunting” is the movie they wrote, and as Hollywood’s latest double-hyphenates, are about to set the town on fire. “Good Willing Hunting,” as directed by Gus Van Sant, is a solid, entertaining tale of coming of age tale filled with sharp, smart dialogue.


goodwillhuntingDamon, so wonderful in “The Rainmaker,” is even better as Will Hunting, the 20 year-old MIT janitor who is actually smarter than all the students who look down on him. Hunting is a complex character, capable of going from charismatic boy genius one moment, to a loathsome thug the next. Damon’s talent is making us care about both sides of the character. When Hunting completes a complex problem posted by regarded Professor Lambeau, he becomes an immediate celebrity among the think tank. Hunting wants nothing to do with the egg heads. He knows he’s smart, but would rather hang out with his best friend Chuckie, and try to pick up college women.

Hunting’s life changes the night he meets Skylar (Minnie Driver), a Harvard student who catches his eye. That same evening, Hunting’s quick temper also lands him in hot water with the law. Lambeau offers to bail him out if he agrees to join his think tank, and see a shrink. Desperate not to spend another evening behind bars, Hunting agrees to Lambeau’s terms, but can’t seem to find a psychiatrist he’s comfortable with. That’s when Lambeau approaches his old friend Sean McGuire (Robin Williams), a former college professor now working as a therapist.

At first, Hunting resists McGuire. Each refuses to take the first step, turning their sessions into an hour of silence. Then Hunting breaks down, and the line of communication opens up. As they warm up to each other, Hunting and McGuire begin to realize that they’re two of a kind. Each is hiding a painful memory that refuses to let them go. “Good Will Hunting” is the type of movie that Hollywood needs to shoot more of. It’s filled with engaging characters, interesting situations, sharp dialogue, and outstanding performances. After “The Rainmaker,” Matt Damon was poised for super-stardom. His work before and behind the camera in “Good Will Hunting” cements his chances. Damon delivers an intense performance that works on so many levels. Robin Williams is excellent as a man struggling to overcome a deep, personal loss.

His confrontations with Damon are riveting. Affleck couldn’t be a better best bud, always giving his friend the right advice, while Minnie Driver shines as the girl who steals Hunting’s heart, but has a hard time getting inside his mind. The more mainstream director Gus Van Sant becomes, the better his films have become. “Good Will Hunting” is one of the most assured films of the year. Very little seems out of place in this uplifting film that fondly recalls “Dead Poet’s Society,” another Williams’ film. “Good Will Hunting” didn’t come with all the fanfare that accompanied most of last year’s Christmas movies, but will be remembered long after the others have faded from memory. One of last year’s best films.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ X ] 20/20 [ ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

An absolutely stunning 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that is almost perfect in every way. The color saturation is rich and deep, the flesh tones so lifelike they glow, and the blacks are so solid they hold up under the tightest scrutiny. I noticed maybe some flea’s dandruff’s worth of compression artifacts on the RSDL disc, but it was so minuscule you really have to pay attention. The colors are so magnificent my television looked brand new. The amber colors just radiate golden hues, while the rest of the colors are lively and vivid. The digital transfer of “Good Will Hunting” is virtually flawless. The original negative is artifact free, providing for a smooth, clean transfer. I was very impressed.

HEARING: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Superior 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track is a sound system dream come true. Here’s a stereo soundtrack that respects subtlety without forgiving dynamic range. The dialogue is so important in “Good Will Hunting,” and the dialogue mix is so perfect you’d swear that people were actually talking in the same room. The stereo separation is definitive, pumping the spiritual Danny Elfman score through all of the speakers while pin pointing the ambient noise with a realistic front to rear split. Absolutely no noticeable hiss or distortion. The soundtrack is dialogue driven but there are moments that will flex your sound system’s muscles.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions in English.

COORDINATION: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

As one of the first titles in the new Miramax Collector’s Series (a regular widescreen version of “Good Will Hunting” will be out on DVD in January), “Good Will Hunting” is packed with a bountiful of extras.

§ A very engaging audio commentary featuring co-stars and co-writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and director Gus Van Sant. The dialogue is exactly what makes these alternate audio commentaries so beneficial. The stars/writers and director provide a lot of behind-the-scenes chatter that lends new insight to the film. All three seem to be on the same wave length, complimenting each other’s observations rather than stepping on each other’s toes. There’s a lot of interesting notations here, like the high praise everyone seems to have for Casey Affleck, Ben’s younger brother. You’d think he was a saint by the time the commentary is over. It’s nice to know that “Good Will Hunting” was a friendly shoot, and that comradeship shows on and off the screen. Nicely done.

§ Here they are folks, eleven deleted scenes from “Good Will Hunting.” Even better, the scenes have been meticulously transferred and look just as sharp and vivid as the film. You can watch the scenes as filmed, or with commentary by the trio. Watch them without the commentary first. That way you can make up your own mind whether or not they’re important. Then listen to the commentary and hear why the scenes were dropped and see if you agree. There were a couple of shots that were trimmed (especially when Skylar comes to visit Chuckie for advice) that I thought improved the story.

§ There’s a production featurette that goes behind the scenes of “Good Will Hunting,” allowing the stars and the director to wax eloquent about the project.

§ There are enough trailers to start a film festival. Not only do you get the original theatrical trailer, you also get the complete line-up of television commercials, from the Golden Globe campaign to the Oscar win.

§ There’s a short but sweet Academy Award Best Picture montage that captures some of the best moments of the film.

§ Finally, there’s the Elliot Smith music video of “Miss Misery,” his Oscar-nominated Best Song.

§ Finally, there’s handsome main and scene access menus.

PROGNOSIS: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

I was so excited with this DVD that I could wait to rave about it.

VITALS: $39.99/Rated R/126 Minutes/Color/RSDL/21 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#14888

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: GOOD WILL HUNTING: MIRAMAX COLLECTOR’S SERIES

BIRTH DATE: 1997

HMO: Miramax Home Entertainment



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