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Pay It Forward (2000)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  20 October 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 91,890 users   Metascore: 40/100
Reviews: 658 user | 158 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

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



(book), (screenplay)
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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


Like some other kids, 12-year-old Trevor McKinney believed in the goodness of human nature. Like many other kids, he was determined to change the world for the better. Unlike most other kids, he succeeded. 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)


ESP 191,771,560 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt have both Academy Awards and Haley Joel Osment has been nominated. See more »


When Trevor is eating breakfast in the kitchen with his friend, the contents of his breakfast bowl and glass change between shots. See more »


Arley: I can't reject you, you're too quick for me!
See more »


Referenced in Lights, Camera, Creeper: Making 'Jeepers Creepers 2' (2003) See more »


Win Your Love for Me
Written and Performedy by Sam Cooke
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Just the Sort of Treacle I Wrote When I Was Eleven
7 August 2001 | by (Atlanta GA) – See all my reviews

This was not a bad film; in fact, it was fairly well done, for what it was. Unfortunately, what it was was emotionally manipulative. Child abuse survivors, cute kids, recovering alcoholic mom working two jobs, this movie had it all. Above all, the director's vision was muddled. "Life is sh*t," says Trevor (Osment); by the end of the film, we can see that life is not sh*t after all. Or is it? The dramatic twist at the end (I won't spoil it for you) seemed to revoke the entire message of the movie. It had no apparent purpose, other than to lead up to the buy-the-world-a-coke, faux-heartwarming finale. The movie was not a total wash, however, as the genuinely solid performances from everyone involved lifted it above the sappy little mess it could have been. Osment is a gifted actor who manages to be a scared, vulnerable kid, without resorting to overt cuteness; he has a wary toughness which makes his performances very believable. Although I am admittedly ambiguous about Helen Hunt, she did turn in a very strong, thoughtful performance in a role that could easily have been one-sided or overplayed. Final analyss: If you like sentimentality, "Pay it Forward" is worth the effort, but it falls far short of a classic.

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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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