Pay It Forward (2000)




Mimi Leder




Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr, James Caviezel, Angie Dickinson, Jon Bon Jovi, Marc Donato, David Ramsey, Gary Werntz, Kathleen Wilhoite


Grown up with an alcoholic mother (Helen Hunt) and an abusive but absent father (Jon Bon Jovi), young Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) attempts to make the world a better place after an assignment from his new social studies his teacher (Kevin Spacey).


September 2015. Pay It Forward is on tv and although it's on my watchlist because of Kevin Spacey I don't bother watching it. I tape it instead. And forget about it. May 2017. I find the VHS having no idea what's in it. And what's the better way to find out? Watch it, of course. And so I did, and I was completely drawn into the movie because, in spite of its flaws, Pay It Forward is a very well done and inspiring movie.

And most of the credits go to the writing - and to the author of the book, I guess. Although at some points it gets a little unlikely, some of the turns it takes and some of the dialogue feel a bit forced as they are used only to keep the movie go forward but they don't really add a thing, the story is well written, it flows incredibly smoothly and it's also moving and touching without being too sentimental.

The message this film sends is amazing. With a pyramid that reminded me of the get rich schemes some people promote, this film makes you think about the meaning of life. It shows how easy it can be to make the world a better place. How inexpensive. But it also shows the unfairness of life, how some people actually try to make a difference but they eventually pay with their lives for it.

The characters are another of the film's strengths. Not only they are so well written and developed you start to feel what they are feeling and care for them, but they are also well portrayed. Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt are great, but Haley Joel Osment really steals the show with a truly emotional performance. 


  1. This was a better film than I thought it would be and for the same reasons you mention here. I'm glad people were inspired by this film so much so that it is now part of our verbal collective. I do find parts cheesy but that could be my sarcasm winning over. Too bad Haley Joel ended up where he is now

    1. I agree on the cheesy parts and on Haley Joel. I feel sorry for him.