Pay it forward - review
This touching romantic drama released in 2001 is based on the book written by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Haley Joel Osment won Entertainment Blockbuster Award in category Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama/Romance for participating in this film. It contains mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations and brief violence. The structure of the film is all over the place, it jumps from one place to another, whereupon it doesn’t make you feel disorganized. It is presented in two levels. First level deals with the simple idea of 12 year old Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) who gets the homework from his teacher of social studies Mr. Simonet (Kevin Spacey). Mr. Simonet asks his pupils to think of the idea that could change the world. Trevor comes up with the simple naive plan based on the natural kindness of people and desperately tries to put it into action. His prime philosophy is: ”It has to be something that really helps people. Something they can't do by themselves. I do it for them; they do it for three other people.”
He tries to help homeless drug addict, his classmate who’s bullied by the others and Mr. Simonet who has built up the invisible wall between the rest of the world and himself because of his burns. He eventually initiates an international revolution, kind of a chain or pyramid strategy. Another level tells the story of young reporter (Jay Mohr) who comes across the movement, is interested in it and tries to investigate its origins.
Mimi Leder as a director makes sure every scene is beautiful and the choice of the actors as Emmy winner Helen Hunt, Kevin Spacey (two Oscars) and phenomenal Haley Joel Osment (Forest Gump, Artificial Intelligence: A.I.) has been amazingly wise as well. Pay It Forward is an example of what films are supposed to do: make you laugh a little, cry a lot, and profoundly affect you in a way that keeps you thinking about the movie for weeks afterwards. To put it more simply, this movie is incredibly positive and motivating. On the other hand let’s be honest, would such a social revolution be possible to happen in this modern, busy world? This movie never dares to consider that certain people do not want to be helped or even want to act kindly. The story introduces a great number of imperfect people (Trevor’s absent, abusive, alcoholic father (Jon Bon Jovi), Trevor’s mother Arlene(Helen Hunt) who is still struggling with her alcohol addiction but trying to give her only son everything she can, her homeless and alcoholic mother(Angie Dickinson), burnt Mr. Simonet, etc) which connects us with the reality while a hopeless romance between Mr. Simonet and Trevor’s mother Arlene seems to be far too unreal.
Some could call "Pay it Forward" manipulative and overly sentimental. Some could call it touching. In my opinion it’s a fascinating but, unfortunately, unreal story that makes me cry every time I see it. Highly recommended.