Pay It Forward (2000)
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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.
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.
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.
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 )
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 film...watch it anyway, at least the three leads are good.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.