Boston, let’s watch Good Will Hunting together. #GWHLive

Good Will Tweeting: A Blog Will Hunting Twitter Project

Okay Boston*, let’s watch Good Will Hunting together.

On Saturday, July 21 at 2pm (EDT) we’re all going to hit the play button on our DVDs (or digital copies) of the one and only Good Will Hunting. And we’re going to tweet about it.

Follow along with @blogwillhunting as we enjoy every minute of the classic film together. Join the conversation with #GWHLive.

If “How do you like them apples” isn’t trending by 2:23pm we haven’t done our job.

The bigger this is, the better, guys. Spread the word. Media outlets with questions? Contact us at contact@blogwillhunting.com. Feel free to use the above image and re-post it everywhere (here’s the high-res version.)

Don’t have Good Will Hunting?

*Rest of the world (outside of Boston): we want you too.

A Fixer-Upper with Great Potential (It’s a Metaphor!)

Central Square Theater's production of "Matt & Ben." Pictured: Philana Mia (Matt) and Marianna Bassham (Ben) Photo credit: A.R. Sinclair Photography
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.

Cut to November 2011: the interweb is abuzz with the news that the house at 2327 Hill Drive is up for sale. We aren’t in schlubby, scrappy Somerville anymore.

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.

Ma Castle Gated Entry

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 of Is 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.

Good Will Hunting was based on a story Matt wrote at Harvard [citation needed, I know, I know]. According to the version of the legend being pushed on the realty blogs—one stretches the facts even further to claim the house was built in the 19th century and that Matt and Ben themselves owned the place, rather than simply renting it once upon a time—the duo wrote the screenplay itself here:

Fireplace at the real Good Will Hunting house

My favorite part of the press release, by real estate site Zillow:

No, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon do not come with this house at 2327 Hill Drive. But as a result of the creative whirlwind the pair cooked up inside these funky walls, this Eagle Rock address has unofficially become known as the “Good Will Hunting” home.

So I just want to know… where exactly did they hang their School Ties poster? That fireplace eats up so much wall space!

Central Square Theater's production of "Matt & Ben" with Philana Mia (Matt) & Marianna Bassham (Ben)
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?

Next thing you know, we’ll find out they didn’t actually write Good Will Hunting. It just fell from ceiling, or something.

But writing alongside fancy chandeliers and palm trees? It does drain some of the Boston from the myth. And the Boston was our favorite part.

The Real Housewives of South Boston

Sure, we here at Blog Will Hunting just had our most popular post of all time, a provocative piece by guest blogger Dorothy.

And Matt & Ben have finally announced a project that will bring them and Boston back together on screen.

And I had the pleasure of viewing a local production of the hilarious play Matt & Ben this summer in Cambridge.

And I have plenty of backed-up ruminations on how walking through Harvard Yard on quiet evenings recalls Good Will Hunting, and what it means to make a Boston Movie in this cinematic age.

But instead of blogging about any of that, I’m going to just post this and call it a day:

Good Will Hunting is my Least Favorite Movie of All Time: An Opus in Three Parts

Guest blogger Dorothy Gambrell cartoons for Cat & Girl every Tuesday and Thursday and lives in an “up and coming neighborhood.” She went to college in Williamstown, Massachusetts.


I. Good Will Hunting is my Least Favorite Movie of All Time

“Art” can mean a lot of things. Almost anything, really. But surely it has never referred to the movies I saw at art cinemas in the late 1990s. Emma. The English Patient. Shine. Movies whose running times were spent complementing the audience on their fine taste in movies. Movies that feigned intellectual discourse by taking place in a foreign country or at a past time or by being based on a well-received novel. You know – middlebrow.

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

I was home from college for the summer when I saw Good Will Hunting. We watched it together, my family, on the couch in the den where the television was and where we spent most of our time together. The living room was reserved for guests we never had, and the Christmas tree. Middlebrow.

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

My parents – like most of the world – loved Good Will Hunting. But not me. No way. If Good WIll Hunting had just dressed up the cheap thrills of a coherent narrative in vague sentiments of educational merit, well, there was nothing novel in that. But Good Will Hunting was different. Good Will Hunting was insincere. Good Will Hunting was 126 minutes of Gus Van Sant encouraging his audience to congratulate themselves and then mocking them when they did so – with a sly wink at those of us cultured enough to “get it.”

That was me, all right. I was in college. I had read Walter Benjamin! I got it.

A movie that tells you you’re smart is a movie that appeals to people who want to be smarter, an audience that spends even its leisure time aspirationally. An audience that sends its children to expensive colleges, that believes in education as the surest path upward into the meritocracy. An audience that wants to better themselves and believes that such a thing is possible.

Suckers.

II. On Just Now Rewatching Good Will Hunting, Previously My Least Favorite Movie of All Time

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

As Will drives away from Boston we can feel safe assuming he ends up in California with a job and a girlfriend. It’s the promise the movie has made to us. We can assume that four years later, when Skylar graduates from medical school, Chuckie and Morgan are drinking beers across a pickup truck at a construction site. But the futures within movies take place in an infinite present. And fifteen years later Will Hunting will be fifteen years older in a world that’s never seen a Governor Schwarzenegger or a war in Afghanistan. Or the gentrification of Southie.

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

Clark the obnoxious graduate student thinks he can impress Skylar with his academic browbeating of two townies. But when Will proves more than his equal, Clark resorts to the sheer weight of social privilege. In the future – the future world of Good Will Hunting, where characters grow older but the year remains 1997 – we know that if Will and Clark meet at that drive-through it will be as two upper-class tourists. In the future where it is 2011 the joke is on a guy getting a Humanities Ph.D. who thinks he’ll end up making more money than anyone. In 2011 Clark gave up his part time adjunct position at Florida Gulf Coast University to go to culinary school, and the locally sourced lamb burgers he sells at a drive-though in Vermont have been featured in the New York Times Style Section.

He will never finish paying his student loans.

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

Will’s intelligence is unquestioned, but the opportunity to leave of Southie doesn’t present itself until he catches the attention of an MIT professor. His therapist teaches at a community college, but they only meet because the therapist’s MIT roommate was Professor Lambeau. Will’s relationship with Skylar isn’t just a relationship with someone who can recognize his intellectual gifts  – it’s a relationship with the people she’s met at “Private school, Harvard, and now Med. School.” You can get a Harvard education at the library for a dollar and fifty cents in late fees, but you can’t get the social contacts.

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

Good Will Hunting is the myth of the self-correcting meritocracy written by two guys who went to fancy colleges and had some personal interest in the continued relevance of that meritocracy’s institutions. And when I saw it as a college student – as an incipient if reluctant member of that meritocracy – I bristled. I bristled at the aesthetics I was in training to leave behind, and values that had sent me on my way. I bristled at the new aesthetics and expectations I was encountering, like I had entered a religious order and was only now realizing what vows I had sworn to uphold. And I realized, suddenly, on that old couch whose worn center springs pitched everyone towards the middle, amid shelves heavy with twenty volume collections of “the classics,” in the room with the television where we spent all our time, what it was I was losing.

But now, fifteen years later – now that meritocracy and its advantages are a distant smudge on the horizon – now I can’t bring myself to care.

Now I don’t hate Good Will Hunting very much at all.

III. But I May Have Overthought This

Good Will Hunting is My Least Favorite Movie

Images Cinema is currently showing The Help.