Today is a very special day because it is the birthday of one of the world's biggest movie stars, Matt Damon. While most of us know him for his exploits as Jason Bourne and for his Oscar-winning turn in Good Will Hunting, an actor as great as Matt with a large body of work does have a few gems that may have been forgotten or have escaped box office gold.
So without further ado, here are some underrated Matt Damon movies that you really need to check out!
1. School Ties (1992)
This is one of his earliest works, and it stars an ensemble cast of future big names, like Chris O'Donnell, Brendan Fraser, and Matt's best friend, Ben Affleck. It is a boarding school movie about a young sports star named David Greene, played by Fraser, who was able to acquire a football scholarship into an elite prep school.
Greene's economic status is not a problem, since everyone in the all-boy school is impressed by his athletic prowess. But he does harbor a secret, which seems to be a problem for its 1950s setting -- he is a Jew.
Matt Damon is the villain in this movie. He plays the rich boy who is jealous of Greene's success in football and, thus, leads the harassment when he finds out his secret.
The story is pretty compelling, and Matt shines as the bad guy. The then relatively young and unknown cast were also able to bring their A-game, and this was probably one of Brendan Fraser's best performances.
2. Titan A.E. (2000)
This science fiction animated film tells the story of a time when humanity is set adrift across the galaxy after the destruction of Earth. Matt voices the main character, Cale, the son of a scientist who was able to build a starship capable of creating another Earth -- think of it as reverse-Death Star.
The movie was a box office bomb when it came out and received mixed reviews, but any fan of science fiction will find the premise and the story line interesting. The animation is also pretty impressive since they used exquisitely hand drawn characters with CGI. It also boasts a talented ensemble of voice actors which includes Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, John Leguizamo, Jeneane Garofalo and Nathan Lane. And no there are no song and dance numbers; the movie is mostly action and involves a lot of explosions!
3. Euro Trip (2004)
Matt Damon is not in a lead role in this film -- he is not even a major supporting character. He is little more but a cameo in this movie, but what makes his part in this sex-comedy noteworthy is that his appearance as a rocker skinhead is so random, so ridiculous, and so different from any part he has played before and ever since.
But, then again, he is in good company; other stars like Kristin Kreuk, Lucy Lawless, David Hasselhoff and Vinnie Jones did also appear in small bits. And despite the fact that Matt's appearance is a blip, it would be really hard not to laugh and enjoy this film. It is really worth a look, just don't expect too much sense or artistry.
4. The Good Shepherd (2006)
The Good Shepherd was not a box office success, and it received mixed reviews. But this film, which showed the beginning of the CIA through the eyes of one of its first recruits, played by Matt, has an intensity and thrill to it. There is also something very unnerving with how Matt plays the stoic and cold agent.
Angelina Jolie, who plays his wife, also shows her range in this film by going against the usual strong woman she plays and portraying someone vulnerable and struggling with her unfeeling partner who leads a double life.
5. Hereafter (2010)
This movie tackles the story of interconnected lives from different parts of the world who have to struggle with loss.
Matt plays a psychic who is having a hard time with how his genuine ability to be able to commune with the dead would affect people. At the onset, he just wants to turn it off. Notable is his scene with Bryce Dallas Howard, wherein he tells her the hard truth about her past, but, in the end, there is such a beautiful touching session with a young boy trying to commune with his dead brother that he finds his purpose one again.
The film's pacing is slow, but the overlapping stories are quite interesting, and you're kept intrigued at how everything will unfold.
There you go: five films you can binge-watch to celebrate the birth date of the talented Mr. Damon! Happy Birthday, Matt! Hope you bring us more great movies that hopefully won't be overlooked.