Pay It Forward
Pay It Forward

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Certificate: 12A | Released: 2000 | Duration: 1 hr 59 mins | Director: Mimi Leder | Studio: Warner Home Video | Genres: Drama

Based on a best-selling novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde and boasting the star power of three prior Oscar winners-Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment-PAY IT FORWARD spins a heart-warming yarn about an 11-year-old boy who comes up with an utopian idea as a project for school. History teacher Eugene Simenot (Spacey) offers the same ongoing extra-credit assignment he has proffered every year: Come up with an idea that will change the world. However, he expects nothing more from his students than half-hearted efforts t ... (Full plot summary below)

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Full Plot Details

Based on a best-selling novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde and boasting the star power of three prior Oscar winners-Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment-PAY IT FORWARD spins a heart-warming yarn about an 11-year-old boy who comes up with an utopian idea as a project for school. History teacher Eugene Simenot (Spacey) offers the same ongoing extra-credit assignment he has proffered every year: Come up with an idea that will change the world. However, he expects nothing more from his students than half-hearted efforts that fall far shy of their mark. Simenot is therefore unprepared for precocious, irrepressible Trevor McKinney (played with wide-eyed wonder by Osment), who conjures up a stunning scheme. Trevor suggests the concept that every person who benefits from someone else's good deed should 'pay it forward,' instead of paying it back, and in turn offer favours to three other people. The first guinea pig for Trevor's experiment is his overworked, imperfect mum (Helen Hunt) for whom he tries to find a boyfriend.
Director Mimi Leder, best known for such powerful thrillers as DEEP IMPACT, imbues the solid script of PAY IT FORWARD with a more grandiose aura.

However, it is the movie's triumvirate of heralded stars-Spacey, Hunt, and Osment-that propels this compelling yarn.

Academy Award winners Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey star with Haley Joel Osment star as a struggling single mother, a social studies teacher whose placid life is in perfect order and the student whose class assignment has profound repercussions when instead of paying it back, the recipient of a kindness must Pay It Forward.

Trevor has had a troubled life but when his social studies teacher suggests that, as an assignment, Trevor should think of something to change the world and put it into action he comes up with a revolutionary idea. Instead of paying a favour back, his idea is to pay three new people a favour, thus changing the lives of all around him...

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Movie Reviews

New York Post - 6.3/10 by Jonathan Foreman Works unexpectedly well for its first three quarters.
Los Angeles Times - 7.0/10 by Kenneth Turan The combination of restrained writing and direction and top-of-the-line acting is enough to make even confirmed agnostics want to believe in this unashamed fairy tale.
Boston Globe - 7.5/10 by Jay Carr The kind of film you've got to admire simply for the way it squares its shoulders and plunges into a message of unfashionable idealism.
Dallas Observer - 7.0/10 by Gregory Weinkauf Heavy-handed, saccharine message somehow goes down good.
Chicago Sun-Times - 6.3/10 by Roger Ebert With a cleaner story line, the basic idea could have been free to deliver. As it is, we get a better movie than we might have, because the performances are so good.
Variety - 7.0/10 by Todd McCarthy An unusual film that intelligently avoids numerous potential pitfalls even if its central earnestness is ultimately inescapable.

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