Pay It Forward (2000) Poster

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Excellent in Parts, All Right As a Whole.
tfrizzell5 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
A deceptively dark film that seems light-hearted and somewhat fun on first glance, but just keeps on twisting as it progresses. A badly burned teacher (Kevin Spacey) wants his grade school class to come up with a project to make a difference in the world. Thus young Haley Joel Osment comes up with an idea to help three people in trouble and then have each of them do the same for three others in order to keep paying it forward. Osment wants a father and soon hopes that Spacey will fall in love with his mother (Helen Hunt). He also helps a homeless man (James Caviezel) who just cannot seem to say no to narcotics. For a while it appears that everything might actually work out, but Spacey's sad life and the return of abusive father Jon Bon Jovi (in a nice little supporting turn) just make Osment that much more tortured emotionally. The love that grows between Hunt and Spacey appears it will save the day, but sometimes nothing is the way it seems to be in life. I did enjoy "Pay It Forward" very much. I liked the elements of the production really more than I liked the entire movie as a whole. There are some really wonderful ideas here and in all honestly there are really two or three movies within "Pay It Forward". All the performers are right on. Osment is the greatest child actor to ever live, hands down. Spacey is always a guaranteed performance and Hunt has grown as an actress in just the last several years. I was disappointed that Caviezel's (who struck gold in "The Thin Red Line") did not have a little more time here. His character is quietly deep and complicated beneath the surface. The tone hurts "Pay It Forward". I really expected a somewhat light-hearted film at the start after some situations that seem to be going for comedy. Some things just do match up with other parts of the movie. With all that said, I still think that "Pay It Forward" is a fine effort that stands a little taller than others might believe. 4 stars out of 5.
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Broke my heart
Smells_Like_Cheese15 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In 2001 after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania, my class and I talked about it and what was disturbing to us. I mentioned how everyone thinks it's impossible to make a better world, but is it? I told them that if one person can do something wonderful for another person, that it could pass on like a domino reaction. Everyone loved my speech and the teacher even said that we could all do one nice thing, so for that day after class we had to do something nice, hoping it would cause a reaction. Didn't happen.

I recently watched Pay It Forward, watching it broke my heart because I felt for Haley Jole Osmond's character, hoping your idea would work and it didn't. Just wanting to make something better and you know it's so hard but you just have to try. This is a terrific movie that deserves more praise and I am hurt by a rating of 6.7. I think this movie is one of the best movies of 2000 if not the best. We could all learn from this film.

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k_ferenc7516 May 2005
In our world helping other people is perhaps the most important we can do. Children are the ones who often teach us how to behave in certain unpleasant circumstances. It is not only a moving story but everybody who sees this film stops for a moment or more and think over the meaning of life. One of the best American films I have ever seen with lots of good actors. Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt are wonderful. In secondary schools it should be a compulsory part of education. I am a teacher and when I want to talk about this topic I always choose this film and students find it a very good example, too. It has not got a happy ending like it often happens in life. It is not a stupid story, it gives us lots of extras. When I first watched it, at the end of the film I was full of emotions and just could not sleep for a while. To put it into a nutshell: Try it and pay attention to Pay it forward.
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What movies are supposed to be
Greg-1958 October 2000
Pay It Forward is a prime example of what films are supposed to do: make you laugh a little, cry a lot, and profoundly affect you in a way that keeps you thinking about the movie for weeks afterwards. I saw it at a special preview screening and was blown away. My friends and I sat through the entire credits because we were so taken by what we had seen. Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and the phenomonal Haley Joel Osment once again give performances worthy of Oscars. I only hope there isn't some "retaliation" of sorts because of their previous wins and nominations because they deserve it again this year. But the big winner here is director Mimi Leder who has moved from action films into great cinema. She demonstrates the fine tuned skills she showed while directing ER. As I sat there, one eye kept a close watch of the story while the other marveled at the beautiful direction of every scene. They have my vote for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay. Awe-inspiring!!!!
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The ending reflects how cruel life really is
mjw230528 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) is a boy troubled by the events in his life. With a violent and Alcoholic father, who has left the scene; and his struggling Alcoholic Mother (Helen Hunt), who is trying to make ends meet, Trevor feels alone and is fearful of the future.

Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) is his new teacher, who has a rare quality of caring for his students. He sets an assignment for his class, to come up with an idea of how to improve the world we live in. Intended purely to may them think, Eugene never expected any results, but Trevor has a revelation, a notion that that people are in essence good and he could use this quality to better the world. And so Pay It Forward is born, Trevor will do three favours for others and in return they must do three favours for others and so on.

With a great leading cast and a good support from Jon Bon Jovi, Jim Caviezel and Angie Dickenson, the movie follows the failures and triumphs of Trevors idea and the life changing effect on both the world around him and on those close to him.

A Journey of emotion and discovery, this tearjerker instills belief that we can all do some good in the world, with a little effort and commitment.

A Warning for new viewers, the end is quite simply heartbreaking, it is incredibly sad, yet it does reflect how cruel life can be, and in my opinion it was brave to use such a shocking ending, that leaves you feeling down while at the same time adding an edge to the Film.

Overall it was a brilliant film, although it clearly will disappoint those people who want a happy ending, but for me the ending was perfect.

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Despite the shortcomings - well played and at times inspiring
grahamclarke3 May 2004
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.
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Just the Sort of Treacle I Wrote When I Was Eleven
XianPhoenix7 August 2001
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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Life is pain
baumer12 November 2000
Life is full of inconsistencies, and it is not without a sense of irony. There are people that have tried to make a difference in life and some of them have paid for it with their lives. Some that come to mind are Martin Luther King Jr, JFK, Gandhi and Terry Fox. It's not easy to change the world. It takes a lot of hard work and determination. And it doesn't happen overnight. But then you see a film like this and you begin to question that rationale. What if a concept like this really was implemented? What if every single person that had a favour bestowed upon them was asked to pay it forward? Is it possible that a Utopian world could be achieved? I doubt it, but it certainly would go a long way to making this condemned world a better place to live.

I don't think this is one of the best movies that I have ever seen. I don't think it is even the best film that I will see this year (although it will make my top ten ) but the idea behind it is what has me intrigued. Believe me when I tell you this. I don't think I have ever been as emotionally galvanized as I was in this film. There is a raw power, a truth that rings clear in Pay It Forward and if there was one film that I would want people to see this year, it would be this film. It is entertaining, it is superbly acted, and it the one true film, the one true idea that really could help make a positive and tangible difference in our society and our world.

In some circles this film has been criticized for laying on the fluff. It is too much like a soap opera. And that is so far from the truth. Let's recount the issues at hand and examine them. Kevin Spacey plays a burn victim because of child abuse. Helen Hunt plays a single mom that is having a hard time recovering from alcoholism and has a bad case of "can't get her ex-husband" out of her life and her bed. Haley Joel Osment plays a wise beyond his years son that had to grow up precociously because of his mother that suffers from the above. Every character in this film, including the bit players suffers from real problems. If people have a hard time understanding this then just go to an average suburban classroom in North America and arbitrarily pick out ten kids. Chances are you will find cases of alcoholism, child abuse, divorce and a plethora of issues that are not conducive to a healthy environment for a child. So this film is just mirroring life. That's all.

The performances by the three leads is nothing short of brilliant. Not as much can be said for the rest of the cast, but Spacey, Osment and Hunt all could be nominated this year when March comes. All three bring compassion and depth to the three scarred people that they portray. But especially intriguing is Osment. He doesn't need to say anything in order for you to understand him. It's a look, a twitch, a smile, a shiver. Anything he does helps us understand who he is and why he is that way. Osment is one true gifted actor and I really don't think he is going to fade away in the years to come like so many other child prodigies. This is the real deal. By following up Sixth Sense with a performance this real solidifies him as a true thespian.

If you have not seen this film for whatever reason, and its box office suggests most haven't, then do yourself a favour and take a chance on it. Not only will it do you good, it really might help change you in some ways. And as Osment says in the film, maybe we may all see in some way that, " the world isn't really s**t."

9 out of 10 ( and bring lots of tissues )
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Not for the stonehearted.
Al_James9 February 2002
Pay It Forward is a movie that is aimed at one particular audience. The kind of audience that expects to have their life changed as the minutes tick by.

And as a film that provides profound, poignant and tear-jerking moments, Pay It Forward will be perfect for this manner of audience. Unfortunately, harder, more expecting movie-goers will probably dismiss this movie as an oversentimental and perhaps unrealistic film.

The film is centred around Trevor (Hayley Joel-Osment). An 11 year old boy, living alone with his dysfunctional, on-off alcoholic mother Arlene (Helen Hunt). One day Trevor is set a homework assignment by his new Social Studies teacher, the mysterious, slightly disfigured Eugene (Kevin Spacey). Eugene sets the class a difficult task; to think of an idea that will change the world and put it into action. Et voila!! Pay It Forward is born.

Trevor is played with an endearing maturity and at times, unstable frustration by uber kid actor Osment. As an aspiring actor, I worry that an 11 year old boy can grab hold of such difficult roles and make them his, while I still strive to gain my Equity card!! What Osment promised in The Sixth Sense, he shows again here with a more difficult and emotionally charged role. Trevor is a boy not altogether happy with his life. He is lacking in a father figure, his Mother struggles to have any impact on him as she juggles two jobs to make ends meet, which leaves Trevor with nothing but his own intuition to drag him through life. For a child that can only be extatic and contented with HIS life, Osment does well to project such a fragile character on screen.

Eugene is a character made for Kevin Spacey (although all his roles seem perfect for him). Intelligent, compassionate, slightly bitter and at times unpredictable, Eugene is a man that we, as an audience cannot help but engage with. The dialogue written for Spacey is much better than other characters in the film, and he puts it to good use. Spacey is at his best when doing two things; calmly and charismatically attracting attention to himself (Ordinary Decent Criminal, Midnight In The Garden Of...), and when he bubbles just below the surface, inviting audiences in so that he can devastate you with a single revelation (Seven, Usual Suspects, Swimming With Sharks). And his revelation in this film (he relives how he came to get his horrific scars), is so vivid, so intricately and harrowingly retold that you cannot help but feel a tear well up in your eye.

Helen Hunt is fantastic as Arlene. Managing to achieve a look that bizarrely mixes trailer trash, run down alcoholic with vulnerable cuteness. She doesn't get the pick of the dialogue however, and the role aswell as the whole film would have been a whole lot worse off had Hunt not been on top form. You don't want her to be your Mother, but you really want to see her happy and for her to do a good job at being Trevors.

The film falls short in little details. Supporting characters do little to affect the story (Jay Mohr as an almost non-speaking narrator??) and the whole thing feels flat if Spacey is off screen too long. Good actors like Jim Caviezel go almost unnoticed and you can't help but feel that a few more juicy characters would help the story become a little more...cohesive.

The ending is a reinforcement of the atmosphere of the whole film. It is a sequence that heightens our emotion and should set the tears rolling.

In short, see this film for three things; Haley Joel-Osment, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. All three are fantastic, and it's obvious to see why so much Oscar gossip was being spread.

If you like heart warming films with a little bit of edge, then watch on. If you're expecting an original, exciting, twisty or philosophical it anyway, at least the three leads are good.
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A very moving movie
EternianNews29 December 2004
This is one of the most moving movies that I have seen in years. The performances are excellent by all the cast members and the emotional tie you develop with the characters is so amazing that you start to feel what they are feeling and go through their good and bad times. This movie is inspiring and heart driven. I really enjoyed this movie because of the well written story and smoothly moving plot of this movie. The movie does not leave you confused as to what is going on or why. That's why I gave this movie a 10, because it is excellent. The odd thing is about movies, the ones that aren't really that good get the awards, yet the really good ones never get one. I have really never understood that. This movie should have been given an award.
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An underrated, beautiful movie.
ipekmine30 June 2012
Pay It Forward is based on a plot that makes you think almost about everything -both while watching and after. There are elements that make you smile and cry, and the cast is very good at delivering the superb scenario. Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey surely do not disappoint and Haley Joel Osment performs perfect, giving everything one could expect from such a young actor. Jon Bon Jovi is the surprise among the cast and adds a nice flavor to an already delicious dish. From the beginning until the very end, the movie manages to touch somewhere deep in your heart, and although I did not the book it was based on, the plot makes a lot of sense in its entirety and shines with its originality. It does not come with numerous awards or an exceptionally high IMDb rating, but it really is a very good movie.
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More realistic than a pyramid money making scheme
shabashnim30 January 2007
watched the movie over the weekend! And i really enjoyed the story. I haven't read the book but i think the idea deserves credit and well done on making it into a movie... greater potential to get people thinking even if it is just for 5minutes.

It reminded me of the pyramid get rich schemes that some people promote... only this had more substance and seemed more attainable than the selling life insurance to people!!! I came across a review that said the movie was over sentimental and perhaps unrealistic. For those that have lost faith in humanity and ability to do a good deed for someone you really don't know ... perhaps it is unrealistic. But living in a developing context means that we are faced with that opportunity all the time.

Irrespective, of linguistical, social, cultural or economic barriers we all have the capacity to recognise when the hand of support or help is extended... its tough to ignore! So for those of you that are extending/ receiving that hand .. Pay it forward!
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A touching film in these uncertain times
b4peace-114 May 2008
A film of surprising majesty mainly because of its sincerity to convey the tale of a young (American) high school student, touchingly and masterfully played by the then 12-year-old Haley Joel Osment, who, at the instigation of his new teacher's challenge to the class, comes up with a beautiful and simple plan to make a difference in the world, involving doing a good turn to not just one person but three, who then, in turn, return the gift themselves to three more people, thereby very quickly spreading goodness in both directions, in the giving and receiving, in the most unlikely places and ways. Warning: a tear-jerker!
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very good adaptation of the book.
kurst_vampchild19 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie, before reading the original book and surprisingly, i found myself liking the movie better! never have i had this experience before, but i must say, that the story behind Eugene's disfigurements was more interesting than Reuben (the book character's name) who was a war veteran. I also think that although the character of Reuben/Eugene was meant to be played by a black man, Kevin Spacey was perfect for the role and you could not have chosen a better actor to play it. Helen Hunt also did very well as Arlene McKinney and really represented the character how she was meant to be, based on the book, which is a rather difficult thing to do. I think that although the film and book differed to a certain extent (as all film adaptations do), the film kept the sentimental quality of the book and in the movie Trevor doesn't get to meet the president which I find to be more realistic rather than a story book fairytale idealism. Overall, i recommend both the book and the movie.
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A meandering, awful piece of rubbish
jruffatt21 October 2000
Did i see the same movie that most of the other commenters saw? This has got to be one of the worst films of the year. Right up there with Battlefield Earth and Hollow Man. How could a movie with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment be this bad. I had to go home and watch Usual Suspects and American Beauty just to be remind that Spacey has made some good films. I like the idea of this film very much and I wanted to like it, I really did. I wanted to feel good when I left this movie, like after watching Field of Dreams or The Shawshank Redemption. Instead I felt empty, manipulated and stupider. Lets start with the screenplay. What the hell is up with the screenplay? I mean, I like the beginning where they show Spacey ironing (his routine), then the scene with Jay Mohr where he has to Pay it Forward. I liked that because it can be viewed as a turning point in the movie. It is from this scene that Pay it Forward gets national attention. Scorsese used this technique in Goodfellas and Casino and it would have worked here if they didn't decide to defy the rules of space and time. The film procedes to cut between "4 months earlier" when the movement first begins, and Jay Mohr trying to find out how it started. It was distracting and unnecessary. It took away from the whole movie. It was like the people in charge were saying "look how clever we can be, we're telling you the story in a nonlinear way." They could have shown Jay Mohr and then go back 4 months, leading up to the beginning, like in Goodfellas or American Beauty even. The ending was stupid and contrived. this movie is so frustrating. THe characters are so one dimensional and cliched. They say one thing and then in the next scene they are doing the opposite. I told three people not to see this movie i hope they pay it forward and tell three people not to see it and so on and so on until no one sees this awful film.
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Don't pay it back, pay it forward
orangevideogamesatlanta17 January 2013
"If somebody does something for you, don't pay it back, pay it forward". This is the quote that you can find on the front case. Trevor is a 7th grader who's teacher tells the class to come up with something that can change the world and then tells them to act on it.

Trevor, unlike all the other kids, takes this project serious. He calls his project Pay It Forward. In his plan you must simply help three people with something they can't do on there own. After that, each of those people have to go out and help three others, thus creating a multiplying chain.

This movie deals with many different emotions, and is not for the faint of heart. With a movie with a star class and a dark lesson on the faith on mankind, this movie will keep you up at night thinking. It'll hopefully motivate you to do something to try and change the world.
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It's hard to surprise me anymore but it happened.
janne_w22 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, I liked this movie. I did enjoy it a lot. It pulled me in. It appealed to me for lots of reasons... but I didn't like the ending. I wish like the dickens that they'd have chosen a different one. The feeling that it left me with was wondering what anyone in that story gained by its ending that way. I'm sure there was something... some lesson, some high consciousness or something, kicking in to make the people better human beings... but I know how the viewer was expected to feel all through it and that said, they were rooting for the triumph of the main character, and it was coming along so nicely... then poof. You are left bewildered and mad.

That's about all I can say about it. It disappointed me because I felt like they set me up for a happy ending. I know that lots of movies do that, and it's probably a noble thing for a movie to have the guts to have an unhappy ending, if there is a lesson to be learned from it. This one just left me feeling the same way Braveheart left me. I guess I'm Pollyanna-ish when it comes to some things. When there is a life struggle involved, I like to see triumph over evil or something. This time it just hurt.
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Manipulative dreck.
nwmariner30 October 2000
Cloying, dishonest manipulation of the emotions for those who need to have "feeling" queued up and spoon-fed. An assembly line movie that has no heart or soul at the center. Watch a real movie that demands your involvement - say "Ratcatcher."
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Phenomenal heart-warming film
leviot6 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has everything a great movie should have. A strong, original plot. Phenomenal acting and great performances. Powerful dramatic scenes with clever dialouge. It's thought provoking and has a strong message to convey. It makes you smile, laugh, cry and then cry again.

The very idea of Pay It Forward, is a powerful concept.

Most kindnesses in the world are done along the lines of 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine', thus perpetuating a circular cycle of favors among friends and family and the like. Yet, Pay It Forward goes way beyond that. It says: do a favor and expect nothing in return. Do it just for the sake of improving this world. Start it and let it roll like dominoes. And don't just do any favor, help someone with something that they will never be able to help themselves with.

Much has been made about the ending of the movie. Obviously, it's shocking and an absolute letdown. But I think, ultimately, that was the way the movie had to end, because that really underscores the very idea of the movie. It shows that the world is still not perfect, that it can be extremely cruel at times, but that's exactly why ideas such as Pay It Forward must continue and flourish. Moreover, to make a real difference in this world, that often requires the ultimate sacrifice.
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One of the worst movies I've seen
arneMan19 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers

This one easily qualifies among the top ten of the worst movies I have seen. Aside from its predictable plot and disgustingly sentimental ending, the moral of this film really sets an all time low. According to this movie,

* a child has a responsibility to help his/her alcoholic, abusive parent to recover.

* no social misery is so severe that it can't be helped by a buck for a cup of coffee.

* everybody deserves a second chance. Unless, that is, if you are a male alcoholic. Then you are evil and enjoy setting kids on fire.

The list can be made longer, but I think I've made my point. Beware of this one, it's a real turkey.
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What a load of rubbish!
dromrye9 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Previous comments seem to focus on *the stars*, which is just the problem with this debris! It was a sweet idealistic book that became a star vehicle on screen, spayed of all social value. The book-teacher, Reuben St. Clair, is black; but you still can't have a black man kissing and marrying a white woman. And that's just the most obvious "whitewash". All controversy has been scrubbed from the film; there are no Black (Reuben) or Hispanic (Ricky) characters, not even any Italians (Jerry BUSCONI has no last name on screen, and Charlotte RENALDI has no name at all; she's just the woman on the bridge.) Reuben is a Vietnam vet, going against the stereotype; he's still haunted, but not a broken parasite. The film-Jerry lives down to the stereotype, using drugs and living in a dumpster. There are no gay characters in the film. There are 3 in the book; Lou Tartaglia (Reuben's friend from back east), Gordie and Sandy. The book skinheads become a schoolyard bully; drab, dusty Atascadero becomes glittering Las Vegas. There is no Sidney G. in the film, a vital link in the Movement. And the scene of the vigil outside Arlene's house is utterly unconvincing as the seed of a worldwide movement. Maybe that's the point; the book was Clinton (in fact, he appears as a character), the film is Bush (as well as bush!) It has happened before, with, for instance, "A Clockwork Orange". The book was Kennedy,the film was Nixon; Kubrick simply ignored the last chapter, in which the protagonist simply grows up and stops marauding. Read the book; ignore the film. Too bad some things don't seem to change.
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Corny and stupid. Pathetic!
velahugo31 March 2001
Terrible. The whole movie is completely predictable and Helen Hunt just does not fit on that role, especially after making What Women Want. The whole movie is just a bunch of sentimental nonsense which makes you want to throw up. Very slow and corny, and I also think it contradicts itself at the end. The ending doesn't fit within the story. It is way too in the extreme, which makes the corny, sentimental and ridiculous movie, even more stupid.

I personally thought that Haley Joel Osment was a terrific actor, till I saw him in this movie. His character has nothing different from the one in Sixth Sense. He portrays a lonely, conflicted child who lives with his mother, who by the way is single and suffering (what a surprise), and guess what, she's also an alcoholic. (Not much of Helen Hunt). Osment also plays the role of the insignificant little boy who saves the world with his "Pay it forward" idea. Very ridiculous. And you´ll see him again, crying, begging for help, being Mr. Wise guy and showing all his dramatizing techniques. No wonder he was not chosen to play Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, he cannot play roles that do not involve crying and exaggerating.

Do not waste your 8 bucks. Watch something else. This is definitely not a recommendable movie. Worst pick of the year for me.
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I think we can do it
HALNIT-217 September 2001
It was a very good chance to see this movie today, just one week after the tragedy. I know some people don't agree with the idea of "Pay It Forward", but thinking about the word "possible", and people who simply have never had a chance to think about what they can do for the world they live in, this movie may do something good for us.
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Horrid - What Was the Point?
neerdowell19 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
*****Contains Spoilers*****

NEVER in my life have I seen a film that starts out so well absolutely destroy itself so thoroughly as did Pay It Forward. Paying it forward is a concept that is going strong in the world today, with people around the globe stepping up and doing nice things for their fellow man. We have the opportunity to see many of them thanks to the omnipresence of cell phone cameras and the social network. This film had a chance to solidify that and build on the message. Instead, the message this film sends is "don't actually do it or you'll end up dead." The death of Haley Joel Osment's character Trevor completely destroys the goodwill that both his character - and this film itself - purported to "pay forward." Everything else is tainted as a result: outstanding performances by Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Osment; good direction, and a decent script up until the travesty begins.

Am I one of those types of people who has to have everything turn out well in the end to enjoy a film? No. But this film was not one that needed an "edgy" ending just for its own sake. Every bit of goodwill that is cultivated early on is utterly destroyed so that you don't even care if the pay-it-forward thread that Trevor started continues.

Someone needed to blunt the brutal ending for the sake of this film, and no one did. The result is a movie that's not worth watching.
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A beautiful movie and a big tear jerker.
burton_joanna5 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those profound movies that affects you and leaves you reflecting about the movie and how it makes you feel and makes you wonder if you could effect people the way Haley did. With the tear jerking moments and the thoughtfulness of a little boy make this a great sentimental movie for most and possibly too unrealistic for others. You then think if it is unrealistic does it have to be can we make this a reality in our communities. While a 5th or 6th grader (Hayley Joel Osment) in a social studies class is given a difficult task to come up with a idea to change the world and to put it into action. That is where the idea of pay it forward is started. Osment does a first-rate job in this very emotionally charged role. Here you have a boy who does not have a father figure, does not really have a happy life. He has a emotionally unavailable mother who is a habitual alcoholic and struggles with two jobs. This leaves him with his own imagination to get him through his day. Which is projected well on screen as the fragile boy. The teacher played by Spacey fits him perfectly, his compassion, with a slight bitterness and at times is unpredictable and we cant help but feel engaged with his character. Although Hayley did a great job Spacey had some great dialogue. The way he attracts attention to his character and invites us in and then he spoils the experience with a single revelation. In this movie when he reveals how he got his scars are so dramatic and so perfectly retold that it brings a tear in your eye. Helen is just as superb as ever. The way she delivers her performance as a trailer trash, alcoholic that still has a alluring side to her. While she might not get the best pick of dialogue, she showed top form and added to the movie in a memorable way. Seeing her we may not long for her as our mom but we hope through the whole movie that she finds her way to take care of Trevor. You would think with a lot going against him you would then be wrong this only fueled his desire to help people and having a innocent view that maybe he can help his mom and teacher. He does end up succeeding in helping some people there even comes a TV story about him and the ripple effect he had on the people he helped and the people they helped. Watching this and living in the world we do today you see life is full of conflict and without paradoxes. Changing the world is a lot of work and takes conviction that not a lot of us have. You see a movie like this with a pie in the sky idea and you think this could never happen. It would go a long way if people were able to achieve this goal to make this suffering world a better place. If you have not been able to see this movie it is a must rent. You must take this movie under consideration and take the chance. With Trevors statement in the movie maybe we should try so we can see the whole world isn't really as bad as we may see. We all may want to mark our place in the world, but what would the world be like if we did a big favor to someone and they did the same to other people. I do wish they showed some more attention to the idea of pay it forward. But seeing in the end when the 2 big lives he helps change for the better. The end of the movie to a lot of people was not desirable I think it was necessary cause it ended up catapulting his idea. In conclusion this is more than a worthwhile film that shows a powerful message that there is good in the world and the differences one person can make. If you enjoy heart warming films then this is a absolute must watch. If you are tired of the same old rehashed movie ideas, unoriginal movies then another reason to see this. As the title says don't thank someone for telling you about the movie pay it forward and tell others.
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