Pay It Forward (2000)

logoDirector: Mimi Leder

Writer: Leslie Dixon (Screenplay) Catherine Ryan Hyde (Book)

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr, Jim Caviezel, Jon Bon Jovi


Plot: A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Inspiringly Good Tale


Story: Pay it Forward starts by showing reporter Chris Chandler (Mohr) tracking down to find out what is happening with a hostage situation before his car gets smashed by the perk. With everyone gone Chris gets a surprise visit from a mystery man who gives him his car in a generosity idea.

Rewind 4 months we met Trevor McKinney (Osment) a young boy attending school where he meets his new teacher Eugene Simonet (Spacey), Eugene is scared and sets out the rules for his class as he teaches the middle school social studies. On the first day Mr Simonet sets his class an assignment ‘Think of an idea to change our world – and put it into ACTION!’ Trevor becomes obsessed with this idea and instantly gets his mind rolling with ideas.

Trevor lives with his mum Arlene (Hunt) who works at a strip bar but only as a bartender, Trevor finds himself having to look after himself after school on a regular occasion but this time he decides to start his idea, by bring home a homeless man Jerry (Caviezel) feeding him and giving him a roof for the night as well as a shower, cleaning him up. Arlene is furious about finding out finding the homeless man in their house and confronts Mr Simonet about the assignment before having to go to her next job as a croupier.

Returning to Chris we learn about why he got the car with the pay it forward idea and how it came about and how the mystery man got to the position to pass it on to Chris.

We move back to Jerry fixing Arlene’s car and we learn how Trevor helps Jerry get back on his feet. Trevor has come up with his idea to paying it forward, where one person helps three people by doing something to help them find something into life and by doing so those three people will then pay it forward to three more and so on. After feeling like he failed with Jerry, Trevor moves onto his next person Mr Simonet as Trevor starts to try him up with his mother. We also see the parallel story of Chris trying to uncover who really invented the idea of Pay It Forward.

We are treated to the story of one little boy who managed to think of a way to change the world for the better with a simple idea of putting faith in each other.

Pay it Forward manages to give us a story about what can be achieved if we put our minds to it, if we put a simple action into motion. It shows us that mistakes in life are going to happen, it is how we handle ourselves when we get a chance to redeem ourselves that matters. We see how one little boy has this idea that makes everyone it affects improve their own lives as well as the people it pays it forward too. The reality is we all have had an idea to improve things, change things and only a few people in history have ever put it into action, so this film manages to challenge us to prove we want to change things. I can’t go on without talking about the ending that is fitting for the story even if it is full of tragedy. (9/10)


Actor Review


Kevin Spacey: Eugene Simonet the scared emotionless teacher who doesn’t believe anyone will ever treat him the same because of his burns. Eugene sets his pupils a simple assignment which ends up becoming a sensation. Kevin gives a great performance as the inspirational teacher. (9/10)


Helen Hunt: Arlene McKinney single mother of Trevor who has to work two jobs to make ends meet, she has a drinking problem but is working on sorting herself out. Helen gives a great performance as the struggling mother. (9/10)


Haley Joel Osment: Trevor McKinney young boy who gets inspired by his teacher to create the Pay it Forward movement which could make the world a better place, but after it doesn’t seem to work first time around he tries again and just as it appears like it is working things keep stopping what could be the very best idea the world would have seen. Haley gives a brilliant performance in an idea that should have helped change his career. (10/10)


Jay Mohr: Chris Chandler a reporter who literally stumbles into the pay it forward idea and tries to uncover the truth about who started it in a journey that takes him across the country. Jay gives a good performance but never needs to put in more than he does. (7/10)


Jim Caviezel: Jerry homeless man who Trevor first helps and after it looks like he has let Trevor down we see that he does in fact Pay it Forward on his next travelling trip. Jim puts in a good performance in a supporting role. (7/10)


Support Cast: Pay it Forward as a supporting cast that has been helped out along the way by the idea that all show how people from different backgrounds change how people think about the world.


Director Review: Mimi Leder – Mimi does a great job directing this showing how one idea can spread so easily. (9/10)


Drama: Pay it Forward touches off all the emotional leaves in this film letting us know what the characters think and feel throughout the film. (9/10)

Settings: Pay it Forward Las Vegas is the setting and it shows how hard living there could be for a boy growing up with so much change. (9/10)

Suggestion: Pay it Forward is one that really has to be watch by everyone. (Watch)


Best Part: The Idea.

Worst Part: I like the end but it is hard to watch.

Lessons Learned: Pay it forward.


Believability: The story is made up by the idea really could work. (0/10)

Chances of Tears: Very good chance at the end. (8/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Surprisingly not

Box Office: $55.5 Million

Budget: $40 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

Tagline: Like some other kids, 12-year-old Trevor McKinney believed in the goodness of human nature. Like many other kids, he was determined to change the world for the better. Unlike most other kids, he succeeded.


Overall: When it comes to a film that really does pass on a good message this really is one of them, brilliantly acted and wonderfully told this is something a lot of people should be seeing.

Rating 90

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