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Overall Rating
3.27

Awesome: 24%
Worth A Look: 26%
Just Average: 13.33%
Pretty Crappy26.67%
Sucks: 10%

9 reviews, 96 user ratings



Pay It Forward
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Does this mean each of us has to make three lame tearjerkers?"
1 stars

The rules of "Pay It Forward," the do-gooder plan outlined in the mawkish film of the same title, are simple: You do a big favor for someone, and that someone turns around and does favors for three other people, each of whom will do favors for three other people, and so on. I will now do you a big favor by telling you how lame 'Pay It Forward' is. If you go forth and tell three other people how lame it is, my job will be done, and imagine how much better off the world will be.

Well, maybe not. But maybe if the word spreads and an anti-Pay It Forward movement starts up, movies like this won't continue to be made. (Maybe.) The movie, directed by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) from a script by Leslie Dixon, is certainly spring-loaded for Oscars: We have two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, Oscar winner Helen Hunt, and Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment (the haunted boy in The Sixth Sense), and boy, let me tell you, they just act their asses off; I mean, there's some serious acting going on here. Everyone gets at least one Big Scene; Spacey and Hunt, by my count, get about four apiece, and little Haley isn't far behind. How odd that all these Big Scenes should add up to such a paltry movie.

Seventh-grader Trevor McKinney (Osment) comes up with "Pay It Forward" in answer to a challenge by his social-studies teacher, Mr. Simonet (Spacey), to devise an idea that will change the world. Trevor is one of those noble suffering kids you only meet in movies; he has an alcoholic mom (Hunt) and an absent father (and, as played by the non-actor Jon Bon Jovi, he should've stayed absent). Regardless, Trevor is selfless enough to try to help others, including a homeless junkie (Jim Caviezel) as well as his mom and teacher, for whom he plays Cupid.

Trevor's Twelve Stations of the Cross are interrupted every now and then so that we can follow a reporter (Jay Mohr, who belongs in sharper stuff than this) who's trying to track down the origin of "Pay It Forward." Trevor's idea, you see, has become a movement — its fingers reach from Trevor's Las Vegas home all the way to San Francisco. People have been paying it forward, one of whom, a bag lady living out of her car (Angie Dickinson!), turns out, in a nonsensical surprise, to be Hunt's estranged mom. Hold on, back up. Trevor thinks nothing of inviting a homeless junkie into his house to eat Cap'n Crunch and sleep in the garage, but he doesn't think to say "Hey Grandma, come home with me and have some cereal"?

Spacey manages to rescue some of his scenes, at least the ones that don't force him to drop the Kevin Spacey cool we know and love; but what happened to Helen Hunt? She's trying way too hard here to be the next Meryl Streep, always tensed up, and I was shocked to see this formerly subtle comedian chugging a bottle of whiskey during her relapse scenes as if acting in one of those Very Special TV movies she transcended 20 years ago. (Hell, she was better in the 1982 TV biopic Quarterback Princess than she is here. The only time she really relaxes here is when acting opposite Kathleen Wilhoite, who plays her friend in recovery — and who played her friend in Quarterback Princess. It's a cool little reunion for those who saw the TV movie.) Osment is as appealing as he was in The Sixth Sense, and that's the problem -- he's appealing in almost the same quiet, smart-little-kid way; the only scene I fully enjoyed involving all three fine actors was a quick scene in which teacher, mother, and excitable boy are sitting around (or, in Trevor's case, jumping around) watching wrestling on TV.

In all, Pay It Forward is the stickiest pile of moosh since Patch Adams, and it has a comparable tragic ending that invalidates the film's message. Someone attempts to carry out Trevor's mission, and it backfires; we're left thinking, "Okay, if that's what happens when you try to help, why try to help?" Well, because if you fall in the line of charity, your face gets on TV, and lots of sobbing people congregate outside your house holding candles. The traffic of cars heading to the mass mourning seems to be backed up for miles; all I could think about during this allegedly heart-rending coda was how much it would suck if someone were having a heart attack or their house were on fire, and the ambulance or fire engine were stuck in that traffic.

It's a good thing I didn't eat a big meal before seeing the movie, because the ending would've been enough to make me pay it forward.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3898&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/01/07 22:48:39
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User Comments

12/04/10 Steffy Don't care what everyone says, i loved everything! the movie had a really good message! 5 stars
8/11/09 the dork knight Remember kids, good people get shivved! Way to ruin your message, movie. 3 stars
2/05/09 bob horrible ending and the movie kinda dragged on and took the spotlight off the whole pay it 3 stars
10/26/08 Samantha Pruitt so freaking sad, the acting is really great! always makes me cry. 5 stars
10/14/08 Shaun Wallner This movie delivers a wonderful message. 5 stars
7/29/08 the dork knight Preachy, sugar-coated crap with a decent performance by Spacey (his last, btw) 3 stars
3/03/08 Pamela White Awesome tale of a child's courage 5 stars
5/16/07 I'm Not Ok I Sweear This movie is a sad one but i still love it!! 5 stars
3/13/07 Brittany good movie very dramatic ending that kind of ruined the movie but i still love it a lot 5 stars
2/24/07 pOisOned heArT has a greay message in it AwEsOmE 5 stars
2/22/07 Weblynx sad, and i have always remembered that way of thinking since watching it 5 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday I loved it! Until the end, that is. The end really killed the movie for me. 2 stars
10/18/06 Dave M Awful Review. I loved it. It is sappy though! 5 stars
9/24/06 Dewi K. Utama The ending shows hope that community also has will to better the world that Trevor had 5 stars
6/11/06 Levi A Good Plot and good acting but a VERY sad ending 5 stars
5/29/06 bobenhiemer not the best of movies 2 stars
4/03/06 Amanda Hunselman I strongly advise people to take this movie seriously 4 stars
12/17/05 Chris Karr One great movie! Almost all the actors deserved Oscars as well as the end song! 5 stars
12/09/05 Michael Very sharp beginning, then it collapse on its own lack of morality. 4 stars
9/22/05 R.W. Welch Intriguing at the start, but gets pretty sudsy. 3 stars
9/19/05 Jacklyn Jade L. Lao nice,interesting 5 stars
8/30/05 Captain Craig Great concept. NO lickable characters..except maybe the kid.Bad screenplay and direction. 2 stars
8/16/05 ES Spacey is a wuss, his character actually had a terriblly done scene to make him look tough 1 stars
7/16/05 christie kind of sappy but greatacting 4 stars
5/28/05 Aneta To jest najbardziej wzruszający film jaki kiedykolwiek widziałam 5 stars
3/30/05 Nick Boyd Great acting and premise marred by a bad endingI 4 stars
3/21/05 Naka Nope. Good messege, but it ain't enough. 1 stars
3/14/05 Brendan excellent 5 stars
3/08/05 Jo Deeply touched, don't care what others say! :P 5 stars
11/30/04 Annie The movie really moved me 5 stars
9/09/04 John Aster Habig a tear fest and a reinforcer of man's good side 5 stars
5/24/04 Jorge Fernandito Reyvaldo G A good film,but the ending was fucking crazy and very retarded 3 stars
5/17/04 C Merryweather Powerful for my students - a thought provoker! 5 stars
4/20/04 Lim Wei Hong A very touching and inspirational movie, despite having a sad ending. 4 stars
3/08/04 Jaco Visser A very touching and morally correct film! Inspiring past words. 5 stars
2/22/04 hi ok 4 stars
12/23/03 Snickerdoodle Kind of sappy and the ending really sucks. 2 stars
10/23/03 Kae Very emotional, but good, HJO is a very talented child! 5 stars
9/21/03 John Bale Somewhat sanitised modern fable well enough acted out to hold interest. 4 stars
9/20/03 Sarah This fi;m moved me in a way no other has 5 stars
9/07/03 Kyle Spacey and Hunt are both great! Didn't like the way it ended though. 4 stars
8/17/03 Lorraine I love this film - it makes me believe I should be a better person 5 stars
8/12/03 It's just me Makes you think...Haley has done it again! 5 stars
8/07/03 Kristan Be patient. Stick with it. Movie like life. It's a gift. 5 stars
8/04/03 Jin way too much emotional turmoil here. intriguing though. 3 stars
7/22/03 natasha_theobald sours my stomach just to think about it 2 stars
6/11/03 BlackTerror surprisingly 5 stars
6/05/03 Demydenko Stanislav Excellent 5 stars
4/08/03 Matt Thiel The ending says "If you help people, you will die." HUH? 3 stars
3/31/03 Jack Sommersby More tolerable than expected. 3 stars
3/28/03 bOmbsz16 its okay; quite boring though... the end is weak, who immediately dies from a stab? 3 stars
1/15/03 Joe A Total Sap & Crap Fest with a realy bad "Twist" Ending 1 stars
10/28/02 Brittney Williams I loved it!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/06/02 TheOthersFan "I see dead people I see nice people you're my mummy" 2 stars
7/26/02 karen goldstein i liked it just for the love story line - rest of the stuff was crap esp. the ending 3 stars
7/23/02 TheChronic sweet movie, the subject matter is definitely worth while 4 stars
6/29/02 Jim OMG what was up with that ending? Helen Hunt is a hottie though. 4 stars
6/21/02 Bart Horrid ending. Ruined the film for me. 2 stars
6/06/02 stud A NICE FAMILY FILM 5 stars
2/18/02 Shotglasskid I usually don't go for the heavy drama's but I thought the performances & movie were great. 5 stars
2/15/02 Butterbean Hunt plays the blandest alcoholic single mother on film. Flick is good, Hunt was blahhh. 4 stars
2/01/02 Tzila Seewald It is so good it's make me cry! It's teach me to be good other people 5 stars
1/13/02 Flick Chick very disappointing 2 stars
1/10/02 max zhang sappy but simple; good for non-English speaking viewers with no concept of the real America 3 stars
1/08/02 sean more further spiritual thing may be better 4 stars
1/05/02 Matt Utt This movie fucking sucks ass. I would rather watch four guys butt-fuck each other 1 stars
12/03/01 Bada Bing Crosby Can't believe Spacey & Hunt got to me; I HATE THEM but not in this almost-great flick 4 stars
10/01/01 Andrew Carden Pretty Disappointing, Bad Acting. 2 stars
6/27/01 Artist Freak Flawed bu enjoyable, good performances, movies like this are too rare. End music sucked. 4 stars
6/21/01 brentley Good plot idea, but the movie could've been better. Ending sucked. 3 stars
6/08/01 Turtle This movie had a couple of continuity mix-ups, but other than that, it was great. 4 stars
5/29/01 Thatguy I see lame people.... they're talking about morals, and righteousness... I'm puking... 1 stars
5/29/01 Monday Morning OK up to the ending -- so heavy handed it ruins the whole thing. 2 stars
5/09/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) A jambalaya of juggernauts in a film that's essentially a jinx. 2 stars
2/27/01 Anthony The movie has a message for people with a soul. The book is even better. 4 stars
2/17/01 Tom Beatty Made me think, but too saccharine 4 stars
2/03/01 Diego Romero You know Haley´s career is already dead right? 1 stars
1/31/01 Matthew Bartley Was I supposed to laugh when he gets stabbed and dies? 2 stars
1/21/01 Peter Taylor Don't be so cynical - its a good film, and a good ideal 5 stars
12/19/00 Tim Spacey,Hunt and Osment make this a good movie that might have sucked with other actors 4 stars
12/01/00 Angela Murtagh It's about time we had agood movie these days-I would see it again-wear waterproof mascarar 5 stars
11/28/00 William Bell Terrible in every imaginable way. 1 stars
11/10/00 spork-girl as sappy goes, this movie ruled. no misrepresentation, no dissapointment 5 stars
11/09/00 James Extraordinary acted,not a good story! 3 stars
10/30/00 Philm Phreak Sucko! 2 stars
10/30/00 Paul Emmons Your review: bull's eye. Without Spacey & Osment I'd rate it much lower 4 stars
10/27/00 cretaceous All it really needed was a car chase to be truly wretched, but it came very, very close. 2 stars
10/25/00 Marc Spacey turns in another startlingly beautiful performance... 5 stars
10/25/00 annice burdeos a bit of a disappoinment.I never believed Helen Hunt as an alcholic. Osment at times seemed 3 stars
10/25/00 emma i like thinking and feeling for myself, thank you very much. stupid and manipulative 1 stars
10/24/00 Katsat Clunky, leaden, never believable, acting wasted,terrible screenplay, editing, directing 2 stars
10/24/00 Starchild Although it jumps around, this was a really good film. The Acting, I believe, will save it. 4 stars
10/23/00 Philip Mole Manipulative Hollywood Twaddle 1 stars
10/21/00 Jenny-My-Fur Spacey is a god, this movie is incredible, it just screams out OSCAR! 5 stars
10/16/00 Suzl4 A good warm movie until the end then bring on the tears. Spacey & Osment RULE!! 4 stars
10/08/00 frank the performances are good, but the overall story (and the ending) SUCK. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Oct-2000 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  22-Feb-2001 (PG)


Directed by
  Mimi Leder

Written by
  Leslie Dixon

Cast
  Kevin Spacey
  Haley Joel Osment
  Helen Hunt
  Jon Bon Jovi
  Jay Mohr
  Angie Dickinson



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