Twenty-five Years Later, Good Will Hunting Continues to Redefine Success


Photo by Ozzie Stern on Unsplash

Sophia Edwards and Paige Nataline

 This past December fifth marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Good Will Hunting, an influential drama of the 1990s starring Matt Damon as Will Hunting. In the film, Will Hunting is a twenty-year-old self-educated genius who spends his time racking up his criminal record and hanging out at bars with his found family instead of pursuing the limits of his rare intellectual gift. In between polishing floors as a custodian of Harvard University, Will easily solves two advanced mathematical problems posted by Professor Lambeau (portrayed by Stellan Skarsgard) at unprecedented speed, inciting Lambaeu to bail the brilliant janitor out of jail when Will lands himself another assault charge under two conditions: the judge demands the young man attends therapy and works with the Professor on mathematics every week. Enter Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), the only therapist able to make progress with Will, who he understands not as an “intelligent, confident man [but] a cocky, scared sh!tless kid.” 

Touching on topics such as mental health, the search for identity, and love, Will personifies the fears that many high school and college students share. As high school students ourselves, it’s safe to say we all experience fear of the unknown once we graduate. We all feel pressured to meet others’ expectations rather than meet personal ambitions. In Will’s circumstance, the Professor selfishly attempts to push him down a path of academic success that clashes with Hunting’s individual mindset; Will refuses to become trapped behind a desk solving problems for the National Security Agency as a pawn in a larger system he believes sacrifices humanity for money. 

Sean, on the other hand, inspires Will to chase after his soulmate across the country because he “gotta go see about a girl.” Ultimately, he leaves his comfort zone of South Boston while simultaneously finding what—or who—makes him alone feel fulfilled. Over two decades after its release, this uplifting and inspirational film remains a catalyst for change in adolescents’ lives, encouraging them to form their own definition of success.