Pay It Forward (2000) Review
(More customer reviews)I found this movie to be a compelling and moving cinematic experience, with outstanding, well nuanced performances by Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, and James Caviezel. It is a bona fide tearjerker. Those who enjoy that genre of film should love this one.
The movie opens up with a hostage scene being played out in a residential neighborhood, with cops everywhere. A reporter arrives on the scene only to have the cops try and give him the bum's rush. While the cops are distracted by the reporter, the perpetrator leaves the scene in a sports utitlty vehicle, but not before crashing into and totalling the reporter's car. A mysterious stranger materializes and hands the reporter the keys to a new jaguar, saying that he is giving it to him, no strings attached, since he seems to have run into a little car trouble.
The movie then cuts to a scene four months earlier. The viewer is taken to a seventh grade class room where, in a wonderful scene, student, Trevor McKinney, played by Haley Joel Osment, takes his teacher's assignment of doing something that could potentially change the world to heart. His teacher, an intelligent and controlled man, played by Kevin Spacey, whose burn scarred face masks the scars on his heart, gives out this assignment cavalierly, not really expecting that any of his students will come up with something of real note.
It turns out that Trevor, intelligent and introspective, comes up with an idea whereby he performs a potentially life changing good deed for each of three people. They in turn each do the same for three people. He calls his idea "pay it forward". It is your basic pyramid scheme with a twist. Some of the things he does will tug at your heart strings. Some of them will tickle your funny bone. One thing is for sure, unless you are made of stone, you will be moved.
Meanwhile Trevor's stressed out mom, played by Helen Hunt, is a single parent, holding down two jobs. An alcoholic in the throes of a recovery, she does the best that she can. Split from Trevor's dad, himself an alcoholic who used to batter her, she is struggling to keep on even keel. When Trevor's execution of his teacher's assignment results in what appears to be a potentially life threatening situation, it causes his mom to hit the roof and go to the school, where she confronts the baffled teacher.
Ultimately, Trevor's mom and his teacher are brought together, through the contrivance of Trevor. What initially seemed impossible, becomes a reality, and a relationship blossoms. It turns out that they have more in common than was initially thought. Meanwhile, Trevor's plan is catching on, and a number of wonderful scenes in the film illustrate this.
What happens in this film will, at times, thrill and delight you. At other times, what happens will surely move you to tears. Some may call the movie manipulative and schmaltzy. It is simply just an old fashioned tearjerker.
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HOW MUCH IMPACT CAN ONE HEARTFELT IDEA HAVE? A JUNIOR-HIGHSTUDENT'S CLASS PROJECT IDEA IGNITES A CHAIN REACTION OFGOODNESS AND CONSEQUENCES. THE BOY'S IDEA: WHEN SOMEONE DOESYOU A FAVOR, DON'T PAY IT BACK, PAY IT FORWARD.