Good Will Hunting is a story about a man whose brilliant scientific mind is masked by his will to underachieve and stymied by psychological obstacles. It's an engaging movie in which a firm but good-hearted mentor helps the protagonist realize his potential. It has heart and soul, and it's directed by Gus Van Sant with Matt Damon and Robin Williams starring. It has memorable lines, like:
"You like apples?"
Finding Forrester is a story about a man whose brilliant literary mind is masked by his will to play basketball and stymied by sociological obstacles. It's an engaging movie in which a firm but good-hearted mentor helps the protagonist realize his potential. It has heart and soul, and it's directed by Gus Van Sant with Rob Brown and Sean Connery starring. I can't remember any lines from it, though.
After you get past the fact that the latter film is practically the exact same film as the former, the similarity ends. Forrester is about literature, not science; the mentor is a novelist, not a psychologist; and most importantly, the protagonist is black.
A young man in Harlem, Jamal (Rob Brown) stands out as the local hoops hero. Playing with his compadres on the urban court, he shines distinctly. Overlooking this proving ground is an eerie brownstone. The boys often notice an unseen watcher bending back the curtains of a fourth-story window to peek at their play. Never having seen the person, the boys have their own legends about the building, legends of murder and seclusion. Jamal doesn't buy it, so he receives a dare to break in a take something.
He comes face to face with Forrester (Connery) and runs for his life, dropping his backpack in the apartment. In the backpack is Jamal's notebook, the repository of his budding literary brilliance. Forrester (unnamed as of yet) leaves the backpack for Jamal to find, and it turns out that he has ruthlessly edited Jamal's journal in red. With his intelligent, active mind, Jamal is encouraged, not daunted by the editing and returns humbly to Forrester's door to ask for more help with his writing. Crotchety Connery takes a good deal of winning over, and the first half of the movie centers on his slow opening to Jamal.
As he continues to write and win a weird friend, Jamal also starts getting courted by Basketball scouts. He is asked to attend a private high school for the rest of his senior year in anticipation of university recruiters. Accepting the offer comes with challenges, of course (just as it did for Will Hunting).
1. Jamal risks losing touch with his homies.
As in Good Will Hunting, our protagonist has many scenes set up perfectly for him to knock the doubters and disbelievers flat on their keisters. F. Murray Abraham is one professor with a serious grudge against Jamal. He is bent on Jamal's humiliation and expulsion, but the man in Jamal's corner turns out to be the man that Abrams respects more than any other. To protect his young friend, Forrester emerges from his Salinger-like cloister to protect Jamal's honor.
It's a moving tale of friendship with plenty of heart-lifting scenes. Though films like this can seem contrived-between characters who excel at everything and situations that produce such perfect gallantry-they do tend to win an audience over. I, for one, had intended to do some house cleaning and bill paying during this film, but found I had to stop and pay attention by twenty minutes into the film.
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.