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Pay It Forward (2000)

Kevin Spacey , Haley Joel Osment , Mimi Leder  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (554 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt, Jay Mohr, Jim Caviezel
  • Directors: Mimi Leder
  • Writers: Catherine Ryan Hyde, Leslie Dixon
  • Producers: Jonathan Treisman, Mary McLaglen, Paddy Carson, Peter Abrams, Robert L. Levy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2001
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (554 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005B4BI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,856 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pay It Forward" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes documentary
  • Cast/ filmmaker career highlights

Editorial Reviews

What if you helped someone out and, rather than them repaying the kindness, you asked them to "pay it forward" to three other people, each of whom helped three more? For his social studies project, Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) starts a chain reaction of thoughtfulness, acts that seem small until multiplied exponentially. This deeply moving tale stars Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt as witnesses to the potential for a global outpouring of goodness. 123 minutes.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIVE HANKY TEARJERKER... July 1, 2001
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.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We now have a formula to create a better world. September 25, 2005
I will not bore you with the storyline as other reviewers have already touched on that.

If making the world a better place for everyone is important to you, then definitely watching this movie is something you would like to do.

The idea is to help three people in need and when they ask you what do you want in return, all you have to do is tell them that they will not want to do it. Of course, this is reverse psychology and the more you say they will not want to do it, the more they will want to do it. When they pester you for an answer, you then tell them that they have to helped three other people in return. This strategy is called "Pay It Forward". The word Forward meaning instead of paying back the favour to the person who helped you (who has been helped before by others)they will find three other people to return the favour. They do not have to do it, but they will definitely want to do it, because they have been helped unselfishly and it truly is a pleasure to help without asking for any reward in return.

That I believe is the message of this movie. To be touched by someone who has helped you without asking anything in return, because the helper has also been touched by someone who helped him without asking for anything in return, and it goes on ad infinitum.

Is it really an attempt to create utopia? I believe that inside everyone, there is goodness, even in the most hardened heart, and we can unlock this beautiful person when we touch him, when we helped him when he is at a vulnerable point in his life, when he/she was truly crying out for help. 9/11 and the tsunami has shown that humanity is ready to emabrace this idea to alleviate pain and suffering and helped one another.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
What a pleasant surprise this movie was! I avoided seeing it for awhile because of so many negative or so-so reviews I'd read and also because a friend told me the book was "sentimental and corny". But the movie was very believable and I can't help thinking that the only people who could fail to be moved by it would have to be hard-core cynics. Haley Joel Osmont proves his acting chops yet again (after his acclaimed his role in Sixth Sense), playing a middle-school student named Trevor who has a troubled home life, an alcoholic mother and an erratic, wayward father. When his new teacher, played by the superb Kevin Spacey, gives an imaginative class assignment, daring the students to "change the world" Trevor takes his homework to a new extreme, changing not only his life but that of his teacher. While parts of this movie do challenge the viewer's ability to suspend belief and seem somewhat unreal, it is a rare treat to see such a trio of talented actors come together for such a worthy idea. Don't be surprised to find yourself reaching for the tissues while watching this movie. I came to it with negative preconceptions and reluctance and was surprisingly moved and heartened by watching it. This is one I plan to buy and add to my permanent collection, worth seeing again and again.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do yourself a favour, watch this film. July 14, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I don't know whether professional reviewers are jaded with life or just naturally cynical but they seem to dismiss far too many films as overly sentimental or contrived. "Pay It Forward" is an emotional film, it will make you cry but that does not make it corny. I am not suggesting you have to open your heart and close your mind to enjoy this film. All you need do is not close yourself off to your soul, because Mimi Leder's film has enough soul of its own for your's to recognize.
Based on a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde, which was unpublished when the script was written, "Pay It Forward", has now become a worldwide movement; and after seeing the film, that should come as no surprise. The story has no hint of religious denomination, nor does it try to preach at us but it nonetheless sends us out of the theatre wanting to do good, to try and make the world a little [better] for someone. It manages this miracle by taking a simple plot and peopling it with characters that are memorable, flawed and likable.
The cast is top class. Haley Joel Osment plays Trevor McKinney, the originator of the pay-it-forward idea. While the impact of his performance was not as great as it was in Sixth Sense, I think we can attribute that to higher expectations. Helen Hunt did make a big impression. As Trevor's Mother, Arlene, she makes Erin Brockovich look like a socialite. She is an alcoholic, single mother who works two Vegas jobs to pay the rent. In her spare time she makes and breaks promises to her son and occasionally allows her "Ex" back into the house, for a little drinking and abuse.
Trevor's seventh grade sociology teacher, Eugene Simonet, is played by Kevin Spacey. He is one of those quiet, thoughtful, caring teachers that sometimes inspire their students to great heights.
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Knowing how life does work.
I happen to think the movie was extremely poor. I love trhe concept of Paying It Forward, but that by itslef does not make this a good movie. Many of the scenes were long and drwan out, and would start putting people to sleep. And honestly, how do you bill a movie with a scene that has a woman... Read More
Jul 1, 2009 by John Smith |  See all 2 posts
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