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Review: Pay it Forward (2000)

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“Feel good” movies tend to be hit-or-miss. Sometimes you get a good, tearjerker. While other times, you get over-sentimental garbage that never has any realistic character development. Pay it Forward, which I had never heard of, had alot going for it, including Haley Joel Osment and Kevin Spacey, but did it have the plot and script to make it bearable?

The biggest thing for Pay it Forward was believability. The plot is, a new teacher (Spacey) for Trevor (Osment), assigns an assignment to think of an idea to change the world. His idea is to “pay it forward”: do a big deed for 3 people, but don’t have them pay it back, have them pay it forward to 3 more people. It turns out that the idea, although it doesn’t look successful at first, branches across the country in a wave of do-goodery. Believable? Not so much. However, the characters themselves, and more specifically, their flaws, are what make Pay it Forward work. Whether it is Spacey’s emotional and physically abused teacher who can’t let anyone close, or Helen Hunt’s single mom character, who despite her fears keeps letting her possibly abusive husband back into her life.  No one in the script is perfect.

And yes, there are plenty things wrong with Pay it Forward. For one, Jay Mohr is in. Another is the odd casting of Jon Bon Jovi as the father/husband. Also, it seemed like every other Osment character he’s played: A smart for his age youngster who spits out things that Grandmother’s would knit on a pillow.

Much like the characters it shows, Pay it Forward isn’t perfect. However, I believe it was worth watching. It was at times corny and sometimes too sentimental, but there is always a time for that sort of thing, right?

My Rating: C

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