Getting Out of (the) Town

“Will, why’d you come all the way out here?” Skylar exclaimed.

“I wanted to see you. I wanted fate to take control. I let my heart lead me. You were right. I don’t hate you Skylar, I love you. Would you forgive me? Would you please forgive me? Without you, I don’t feel complete.” Will explained.

“Will, of course I forgive you.” Skylar kissed him again smiling.

“Can I come in?” Will asked. Skylar nodded.

“Come on in!” Skylar pulled away from him and grabbed his hand pulling him into the room. Will turned to close the door, only to find Chuckie Sullivan standing in the door way.

And where did this bit of script come from, you ask? A lost epilogue to the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting screenplay? A deleted scene? Thankfully, no. The answer is simple: Good Will Hunting fan fiction. It’s out there, believe it or not.

But amateur screenwriters on the internet aren’t the only ones imagining a cinematic reacquaintance with Good Will Hunting‘s Chuckie Sullivan. I’ve been hearing and reading many a comparison between Affleck’s The Town character and his more youthful and naive Good Will Hunting character.

Does The Town‘s Doug MacRay represent Chuckie’s character all grown up?

Well, no. No more so than The Departed is about the corruption of Will Hunting by organized crime or The Bourne Identity is the story of Will working for the NSA after all.

But there are some interesting comparisons.

Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting and The Town
The moment where the Ben Affleck character who does construction argues with his best boyhood friend the necessity of leaving town and going to a warmer state with lots of coastline. (Image comparison via robinjp.tumblr.com)

Global Comment‘s Mark Farnsworth writes:

MacRay could be Affleck’s Chuckie left behind by Will in Good Will Hunting, and in places The Town plays like an unofficial sequel about Chuckie’s life story. In that movie Chuckie berates Will for not taking his chance, “Fuck you, you don’t owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me. Cuz tomorrow I’m gonna wake up and I’ll be 50, and I’ll be doin’ this shit. And that’s all right. That’s fine. But you’re sittin’ on a winnin’ lottery ticket. And you’re too much of a pussy to cash it in, and that’s bullshit. Cause I’d do fuckin’ anything to have what you got. So would any of these fuckin’ guys. It’d be an insult to us if you’re still here in 20 years. Hangin’ around here is a waste of your time.”

So yes, the similarity between the scenes in which Affleck’s character argues for Will Hunting to leave Boston behind and in which he argues that he himself must leave Boston in The Town have obvious similarities. Affleck himself has said as much in an interview with AFP, recalling the Good Will Hunting “lottery ticket” speech, “I found myself back in the same scene.”

The AFP article continues:

In The Town, Affleck as the leader of a posse of bank robbers has a scene with Jeremy Renner, who plays his surrogate brother, which Affleck said was “heartbreaking in a different way and probably a more common way.”

It was “one guy saying, ‘I have to leave, I have to change, I have to do something different,’ and the other saying, ‘Stay with me, don’t leave me, don’t do that to me,’ and how hard it makes it to make that choice when you have your best friend, your brother … sitting there (saying): ‘I need you, don’t leave me.'”

Both scenes “spoke to that dynamic,” Affleck commented. “And in a larger sense they spoke to the importance of male friendships.”

Farnsworth’s Globe Comment analysis doesn’t end on a simple comparison between the two scenes, though. He goes on to describe the getting-out-of-town conceit as representative of not only Damon and Affleck’s respective characters, but their careers as well:

Chuckie’s words resonate loudly when applied to MacRay but they scream from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument in Affleck’s case. Whereas his boyhood pal Matt Damon has seen his career progress smoothly into iconic status with the Bourne films, Affleck has had to rebuild his after the whole “Bennifer” fiasco.

So is The Town Ben’s ticket out of the mediocre-film-career doldrums? (His “winnin’ lottery ticket”?)

And what other similarities between the films have you noticed? (Spoilers welcome.)

A conversation about Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting

I’ve learned from the best that a good blog isn’t afraid to bring you right into the conversation, into the formation of its ideas as they are being constructed and processed.

So I figured I would go ahead and share the following online conversation I recently had with a friend, former Bostonian Dave C.

Good Will Hunting

I bring you a discussion of life, masculinity, and the conceptual underpinnings of Good Will Hunting.

Dave: i didn’t know that blog will hunting was your blog
i thought it was just something you linked to a lot
me: nope, it’s mine!
Dave: i read all of it on sunday
what i love is that you don’t even think it’s an objectively great movie
me: yeah
it would never go in my top anything list
Dave: so what is it?
me: but it feels very culturally/personally significant
and it feels like Bostonians are sort of grasping at straws to find themselves reflected in film and that’s the best they can do
I’ve never quite written the definitive post answering that question, but it’s an important one: what is it about Good Will Hunting?
That I saw it senior year of high school, and that it felt very indie and masculine, meant a lot
Dave: masculine interesting
a lot of manly love it’s true
interesting that the “girl” robin williams had to see about is dead
me: there was some dumb book a while ago that explored “male spaces” — it was essays and photos, and talked about barber shops and dugouts etc
and GWH inhabits a lot of those spaces
Dave: are the spaces just for hiding from chicks
or do they have merits
me: I think merits
I think simply they are “safe”
Dave: in that context the baseball scene is interesting
because bleachers are really for moms
me: so yeah maybe there’s some hiding there
Dave: but they are reclaiming it as a safe man space
me: yeah!
also, the therapy scene when they are talking about baseball
there’s a shot from above that shows that they are sitting essentially in a baseball diamond of chairs
and then they reenact the game 6 scene
Dave: so how about this for a way of looking at it
what he’s doing is incrementally expanding his safe man space
me: so it’s this baseballification and male-ification of the potentially girly, feelings space
Dave: going to therapy fine, but still with the safety blanket of baseball
me: yeah
Dave: he will engage in an intellectual discussion, fine, but only in the context of threatening someone
etc
always the safety blanket
me: yeah
Dave: you know this already
i’m getting there slowly
ok here’s a question
me: the strength of the movie is by far the friends scenes
Dave: what is “Boston” about the movie besides the fact that it is filmed at au bon pain
why could it not have been filmed in any other city, with lots of shots of scenery of the city
me: good question.
well
I will answer that by paraphrasing Robin Williams in the film
Will argues that there’s pride in work, in labor
in being a janitor even
and Williams’ character counters, why are you a janitor all the way in Cambridge when you could just be a janitor around the corner
Harvard and MIT are the poster children for smart kids
and the tensions and rewards of university/townie relations
Dave: bam
great answer
me: the mythology of the damon-affleck friendship is also critical to the film’s success and staying power
Dave: also i think it has something to do with the red sox
i don’t know if that movie can be as good if the red sox won the world series in 1995
me: yeah
definitely
there’s a pride in not succeeding
Dave: ok here’s something i find weird
the scene where williams says he can bench a lot
me: yeah
so weird
Dave: A of all, he clearly can’t, look at him
B of all, who cares?
me: yeah, I always thought he was bullshitting
Dave: interesting
me: just playing along with the one-up-manship
Dave: how old is will hunting
me: he turns 21
towards the end
Dave: oh snap that young
how old is skylar
me: yeah, his friends give him the car
she is supposedly about that age
though she’s all European so maybe she took some time off before college
Dave: ok heres a question
why this dichotomy between genius and construction
why cant he be a rich genius AND be best friends w chuckie
me: hmm
well, having both is not a very good story, and that self-consciousness seems important to him
he also seems to genuinely believe he can’t have it all
the film’s psychology would have us believe it’s because of his abusive upbringing
Dave: that he has what he deserves
me: or perhaps more accurately, those who have more don’t deserve it
ok, I’m gonna go to the library, and then the gym

Good Will Hunting