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Pay It Forward (2000)

PG-13 | | Drama | 20 October 2000 (USA)
0:33 | Trailer

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A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.



(book), (screenplay)
2,481 ( 79)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ricky McKinney
Colleen Flynn ...
Woman on Bridge
Thorsen's Daughter (as Hannah Werntz)


Young Trevor McKinney, troubled by his mother's alcoholism and fears of his abusive but absent father, is caught up by an intriguing assignment from his new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward--repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. Trevor's efforts to make good on his idea bring a revolution not only in the lives of himself, his mother and his physically and emotionally scarred teacher, but in those of an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


#1 It has to be something that really helps people. #2 Something they can't do by themselves. #3 I do it for them, they do it for three other people. These are the rules when you pay it forward on October 20th. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

20 October 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cadena de favores  »

Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,631,359 (USA) (20 October 2000)


$33,508,922 (USA) (2 February 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Several pieces of promotional material (including some press kits) mistakenly referred to Kevin Spacey's character as Reuben Simone. See more »


The same man walks out of the casino twice when Eugene meets Arlene there. See more »


Sidney: [Staring at Thorsen's Daughter] No! No, wait!
[Gets up in front of Thorsen, faces the Nurse, and starts shouting]
Sidney: No! Hey! Wait! Enough bullshit! You need to help her right now!
Nurse: Excuse me...?
Sidney: Man, why you giving me all this shit? Ain't you got some oxygen or something you can give her?
Nurse: All right. Let me get a supervisor.
[Attempts to leave]
Sidney: [Blocks her way] No, no, no, no! You don't need to get no supervisor! You the supervisor today! Huh? You are the supervisor today! You feel me on that? Now I ...
See more »


Referenced in Cougar Club (2007) See more »


Broken Home
by Papa Roach
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Despite the shortcomings - well played and at times inspiring

I remember leaving the cinema, feeling very much let down by the end of "Pay it Forward". Watching it recently on television I find myself far more forgiving since it's a movie with a sincere and important message, expressed with conviction. The quasi-religious ending probably will appeal to many, but from an artistic viewpoint, it seems unnecessary and not entirely suited to the tone of the film up to that point.

Kevin Spacey is effective as the suppressed, sensitive teacher, while Helen Hunt is terrific, despite the role being far too close for comfort with her "As Good As It Gets" character. But it's Hailey Joel Osment's wonderful portrayal that gives "Pay It Forward" much of its power. He simply is perfect for the part. (Good to see Angie Dickenson, braving it in the role of a homeless alcoholic).

At its best, this is a film which may just do the impossible: inspiring one to good deeds, without expectation of reward or remuneration. That alone is a substantial achievement.

75 of 93 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
How can anyone possibly like this movie?? chloen1979
a better ending rutica
now if you got stabbed in the stomach Sensfan1915
Did anyone ever have 7th grade teacher like that? MBasler89
Should be a law... libertess66
from a mother who lost her son goldstalk
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