Pay It Forward (2000) - Rotten Tomatoes

Pay It Forward2000

Pay It Forward (2000)



Critic Consensus: Pay It Forward has strong performances from Spacey, Hunt, and Osment, but the movie itself is too emotionally manipulative and the ending is bad.

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Movie Info

A young boy stumbles upon a simple way to change the world in this drama. Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) is a bright 11-year-old boy who comes from a troubled home; his mother Arlene (Helen Hunt) is an alcoholic trying to hold down two jobs to support her son, while Trevor's father Jon Bon Jovi) left his family behind some time ago. At school, Trevor's class is introduced to their new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet (Kevin Spacey), a guarded man with severe facial scars. Simonet gives his class an unusual assignment -- think up a practical way to make the world a better place, and put it into action. Trevor comes up with the notion of "Pay It Forward" -- do a needed favor for three different people without being asked, and then ask them to do the same for three others. Trevor starts by letting Jerry (James Caviezal), a junkie living on the streets, stay in his home. Next, he tries to fix Arlene up with Mr. Simonet, since both seem to be lonely and the clean and sober teacher might help Arlene stay away from alcohol. Finally, he tries to rescue one of his schoolmates, who is constantly tormented by bullies. Meanwhile, journalist Chris Chandler (Jay Mohr) finds himself stuck on the road without a car late one night when a man stops and give him the keys to a new car, asking him only to pay the favor forward to someone else; astonished, Chris wants to find out where this philosophy came from. Based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hide, Pay It Forward also stars Angie Dickinson and Liev Schreiber. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Kevin Spacey
as Eugene Simonet
Helen Hunt
as Arlene McKinney
Haley Joel Osment
as Trevor McKinney
Jay Mohr
as Chris Chandler
Gary Werntz
as Thorsen
Rusty Meyers
as Newsstand Guy
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Critic Reviews for Pay It Forward

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (43)

A bit syrupy, but sentimental teens may enjoy it.

December 27, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

if this is what Hollywood considers serious, important filmmaking, maybe the movie industry should stick to the low road. Directed with the in-your-face subtlety of a sitcom, the tone of the movie is weirdly miscalculated from the get-go.

March 31, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Spacey and Hunt create interestingly layered characters who are hiding parts of themselves from themselves. And come Oscar time, Osment once again may be saying, 'I see tuxedoed people.'

November 6, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Less a worthy achievement than a nice try.

March 22, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

With its smorgasbord of moralizings, Pay It Forward is a confusing welter of sentiment.

June 25, 2001

Not since Gump has there been such a pandering, faux-virtuous package of populist pap for Hollywood to shove in the faces of electioneering politicos and say: Look, we don't just market unwholesome swill to families, we market wholesome swill, too.

June 4, 2001 | Rating: 0.5/5

Audience Reviews for Pay It Forward

This is one of those heavy-handed liberal "message" films, but the idea of it won't leave you too quickly as the actors do a pretty good job at nearly covering that fact up. Helen Hunt is really good, duh, of course.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Decent movie.

Wildaly M
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

want to see it

Anatoliy Dudaev
Anatoliy Dudaev

Super Reviewer

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