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Pay It Forward

4.4 out of 5 stars 779 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Special Features

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

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 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2001
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (779 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005B4BI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,345 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pay It Forward" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Comment 32 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
5 Comments 43 of 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I've wanted to see this movie since I started to see the previews because I loved the premise. I think it's something that would truly change the world if it would only catch on. I was thrilled to see Haley Joel Osment playing such a role. He is a true "wunderkind" or perhaps an "Indigo Child" as they are often referred to today. He carries with him such an air of mystique and prophecy that I just know that his movies hold valuable messages for all of us. It surprises me that other reviewers couldn't focus long enough to realize that the sub-plots were all intended to connect via the "pay it forward" context, as we realize that Trevor's homework assignment has influenced people, events and places far beyond his own awareness. Yes, Helen Hunt looks like a witch, but she's playing an alcoholic -- they're rarely pretty, but often good-hearted. She's also a battered woman, and a brutally honest confrontation with Trevor's teacher forces her to question her self-destructive loyalty to the father of her son -- a loud and clear message to women who may be putting their children at risk by paying too much respect to fathers who don't deserve it. Even Trevor himself dreads his father's return, and father's rights advocates could benefit from the realization that sometimes children *don't* need fathers who hurt them and/or their mothers.
Paying it forward is about taking risks for others, risks that are hard, challenging, and scary. Trevor himself honors the courage it took his mother to forgive her mother for the childhood that caused her such pain. It takes courage -- and that is why the end is as powerful as it is. I won't spoil it, but I want to say that it was a statement that underscored the kind of courage it takes to change the world.
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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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