"I see good people."
Pay it Forward
Review by Ross Anthony

Spacey: "This is the seventh grade. You're probably thinking you can close your eyes and hold your breath till it's all over -- that's not an option ... Okay so you're not global thinkers yet, but why not?"

Osment: "Because we're eleven."

"Pay it Forward" is an "attack of total altruism" embedded in a slightly simplistic movie, fronted with terrific actors.

Plainly put, it's still an enjoyable experience and a nice reminder to be nice.

Improvements? Sure. Teacher Mr. Simonet (Spacey) is the seed planter with the assignment: "Think of an idea to change the world and put it into action." However, later we find that he's living with a serious psychological problem - namely, he's terrified of change. And though a clever interchange in the classroom tries to explain this contradiction away, I still don't buy that this Mr. Simonet would light that kind of fire under the butts of his students. I'd have rather have him offer up the assignment in a synical manner. Instead, he's too likeable, too optomistic right away.

Problem two: Aside from two very interesting acts of kindness, the rest employ standard cliché troubled folks: bums by the fire in an open lot, woman jumping off bridge, alcoholic family member.

Problem three: The film does a poor job of establishing location. Eventually, it becomes apparent that most of the story takes place in Las Vegas; but it's not so obvious that the opening scene and some inserted ones take place in LA.

Problem four: The ending, click here for Ross Anthony's Revision notes (Warning, ending info may be given.)

The film begins with a gentle pace, an act of total altruism, then cuts rather unexpectedly to a hospital emergency room scene that explodes with passionate emotion. One second the film is tapping and massaging my curiosity, the next, my heart is bumping up against my throat. It's a wonderfully written, directed and acted scene executed spectacularly by a young black actor whose name wasn't even in the press notes. If you know, do send it in.

"Sixth Senser" Haley Joel Osment brings us a new twist, instead of chilling us out most of the film, he's inspiring the do-good tendencies in us.

In an 80's way it reminded me of the 1970's "Oh God II."

Overshadowing these not-so-minor imperfections, the film boasts two heaping spoonfuls of heart, choking me up more than once. It's an enjoyable night out.

(PS: Comparing the "Pay it Forward" plan to marketing schemes is like saying Martin Lawrence and Martin Luther King are alike because they have the name Martin in common.)

  • Pay it Forward. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring: Hellen Hunt, Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr, James Caviezel and Jon Bon Jovi.
  • Directed by Mimi Leder.
  • Written by Leslie Dixon.
  • Produced by Steven Reuther, Peter abrams, Robert Levy at Warner Bros/Bel-Air/Tapestry.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:00:26 PDT