Study Guide

Good Will Hunting Intelligence

Intelligence

WILL: Do you know how easy this is for me? Do you have any f***in' idea how easy this is? This is a f***in' joke.

Professor Lambeau thinks he's doing Will a favor by giving his intelligence an outlet. But he doesn't realize just how easy Will finds all the math problems Lambeau throws his way. Will finds it all so easy that he feels it's even more a waste of his time than drinking in a bar all day.

LAMBEAU: This boy has that gift. He just hasn't got the direction, but… we can give that to him.

Professor Lambeau realizes that Will has a lot of emotional and behavioral problems. But he's also certain that he can help Will put his amazing intelligence to good use if Will can work out his head issues.

SKYLAR: You know there are very smart people here at Harvard, and even they have to study because this is really hard. And yet, you do it so easily. I don't understand—I don't understand how your mind works.

Like anyone who knows Will, Skylar can't wrap her head around how he's so smart. After all, she lives in a world of super-smart people at Harvard University, but even they can't come near Will's intelligence.

LAMBEAU: Yeah, you were smarter than me then and you're smarter than me now. So, don't blame me for how your life turned out; it's not my fault.

Lambeau is willing to admit that his friend Maguire is smarter than him. But he also thinks deep down that Maguire is a failure who's squandered his gifts, and he doesn't want Will to go down the same path.

MORGAN: My boy's wicked smart.

Will might have tried to hide his intelligence over the years, but his friends aren't dumb. They know there's something really different about Will, even if they can't fully understand what it is or what it means.

WILL: Why? So I can realize she's not that smart, that she's f***in' boring? Y'know—I mean... this girl is like f***in' perfect right now, I don't wanna ruin that.

Will is an intelligent dude, but sometimes he's too intelligent for his own good. In this case, he overthinks his relationship with Skylar by wanting to keep it perfect. Will thinks that if he spends too much time with Skylar, he'll start to see all her imperfections. Or (gasp!) she might see his.

LAMBEAU: He had no access to any scientific work. But he came across this old math text. And from this simple text, he was able to extrapolate theories that had baffled mathematicians for years.

One of Professor Lambeau's great heroes is a man from India named Ramanujan, who apparently had no formal education. All he had was a math textbook, and he was so intelligent that he could create some of the most advanced math ever just from what he learned in the textbook.

LAMBEAU: Now this… this Ramanujan, his—his genius was unparalleled, Sean. Now this boy is just like that.

The whole reason Lambeau tells the story of Ramanujan is because he wants to explain to Maguire just how special he thinks Will is. Lambeau thinks that Will is the kind of genius who comes around once every few centuries, and he honestly doesn't care if Will has a few emotional problems. He wants Will to contribute to the world of math as much as possible so the world can reap the benefits.

LAMBEAU: Don't infect him with the idea that it's okay to quit, that it's okay to be a failure. Because it's not okay, Sean.

Lambeau is the one who brings Will to Maguire for help. But he's also worried that Maguire will teach Will that it's okay to accept himself no matter what he does. Lambeau doesn't believe that happiness is everything. He thinks that the worst thing in life is wasted potential, regardless of whether someone is happy.

LAMBEAU: Well, the proof you're working on... can do some, more advanced... combinatory mathematics. Finite math.

WILL: Sounds like a real hoot.

When Lambeau first approaches Will, he tells him that one of the conditions of getting out of prison is for Will to work with him on some math problems. Will sarcastically says it sounds like fun. But he really has no choice if he wants to stay out of jail. He'll have to use his unique intelligence whether he wants to or not.