Commencement season has come and gone, and as always, this one was ripe with Good Will Hunting references, most notably the “real life ‘Good Will Hunting’” janitor who graduated from Columbia with honors.
And for a commencement speech, especially in this town, a Good Will Hunting reference is the obvious go-to. Amy Poehler circled around one in her Harvard Class Day address last year, but this year Andy Samburg went right for it. Within 30 seconds, boom! (Including the introduction, it comes in at about the 3:15 mark.) And lots of The Social Network references too, just to sweeten the deal.
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If “How do you like them apples” isn’t trending by 2:23pm we haven’t done our job.
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Central Square Theater's production of "Matt & Ben" with Philana Mia (Matt) & Marianna Bassham (Ben) Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography
Interior. Ben’s apartment. A lazy Saturday in Somerville, Massachusetts. Stage right we see a desk, a computer, all untouched. Center stage we got a second hand couch. Pan left we see various junk food . . .
Thus the stage is set—early on in the play Matt & Ben.
Known as the ”Braasch House,” “Ma Castle,” and—by some—the “Good Will Hunting house,” this is the house in which Matt and Ben penned their Good Will Hunting, sometime in the mid-nineties.
I think it’s safe to say—the popular mythology of Matt and Ben’s rags-to-riches (or “Boston-to-Hollywood”) tale brings to mind something a little less grand than what we see here. (Certainly something a little less Viking-French Norman.) Despite being described in the realtor’s listing as “a fixer with great potential,” this is not the Boston-area apartment with pizza boxes and School Ties posters we were probably imagining. Much like Matt Damon’s Will Hunting (that twinkle in his eye! that beautiful shimmering hair! those wicked smart math skills!), the potential is quite obvious.
A duo of underemployed actors write starring roles for themselves and go on to great acclaim? In 2002 the play Matt & Ben was a hit at the International Fringe Festival and the next year Off Broadway. Playwrights Mindy Kaling (a Cambridge native, now on NBC’s The Office and author ofIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?) and Brenda Withers (actor/writer of the recent play The Ding Dongs, or What Is the Penalty in Portugal?) wrote Matt & Ben in their crummy, railroad-style Brooklyn apartment and went on to star in the play in Manhattan and then L.A.
So I just want to know… where exactly did they hang their School Ties poster? That fireplace eats up so much wall space!
From the Central Square Theater production of "Matt & Ben." (Yup, that's a School Ties poster on the wall behind Ben.)
Mindy Kaling is quick to point out in her recent book that they basically did no research on the real Matt and Ben’s journey. She and Brenda were essentially more interested in playing with the mythology of the duo’s celebrity.
So, why is it so disappointing to see how bitchin’ their pad was?
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