Saturday, October 1, 2011


Pay It Forward

Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt,
Haley Joel Osment


October 20, 2000

Mimi Leder

Warner Bros. Pictures

2 hours 3 minutes



Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment: Three of the best actresses of the late 90s/early 21st century.  How could a movie about a life changing idea be bad?  Believe it or not, there are many reasons why the 2000 drama 'Pay it Forward' is a surprisingly disappointing film.  Imagine an idea where one person helps three people, then those three people each help three separate people, and so on and so forth.  Let me just point out that the first half hour of the movie is fantastic.  Kevin Spacey, who plays Haley Joel Osment's mysterious Social Studies teacher Mr. Simonet is captivating for about half of the film, before he turns into a moody, love crazy man who's falling for Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment's movie mommy.  If the movie had stuck on the same path as the film's first 30 minutes, then I might've given it a higher grade.  Overall, because of the unnecessary love plot, a confusing time frame, and one of the worst endings that I have ever seen, 'Pay It Forward' is not much of a good movie, and I found it really hard to fall into the gushy romance between Hunt and Spacey.

I'm surprised of myself that I have not reviewed many of the films that I have seen inn school over the years.  The only one that comes to mind is the Francis Ford Coppola film 'The Outsiders,' which I still loathe to this day.  That is the prime example of how a book is poorly executed on the big screen.  While this film isn't as bad as 'The Outsiders,' it is still a very disappointing and confusing movie that left me more mind numb than my first experience with 'Inception.'  The movie starts off with a scene involving a reporter and his car being destroyed.  After that, a "four months earlier" card pops up, bringing us to Osment and Spacey's first encounter in school.  Throughout the film we cut from the Osment/Spacey/Hunt storyline to the reporter storyline, believing that we are still "four months earlier."  It's not until about 15 minutes left in the film that we find out that we, the audience, have been jumping through a time stream so clogged, that we don't even know how long anyone has even known about the pay it forward idea.  I could tell that many classmates of mine were also confused by this aspect, so just know before watching the movie that you will be jumping throughout time until the disappointing final minutes of the film.

A lot of movies these days behold many clich├ęd romantic sub plots that are highly unnecessary for the film's main plot.  'Pay it Forward' is no exception to this "spectacular" rule.  In a movie that's supposed to be about a miraculous idea spreading among the world's citizens, we get a stupid romantic relationship between Helen Hunt's alcoholic persona and Kevin Spacey's straight yet dark teacher.  There is no way in the history of life that this relationship could EVER happen.  If there is a relationship between an alcoholic and a scarred teacher, then I apologize.  I'm just showing how surreal this romance is.  Sure, the actors did a fine job, Osment especially, but can't there ever be a movie just about one story rather than multiple stories all condensed into a two hour picture. 

In the year 2000, we were living in the generation of so many fantastic movies that everybody loved.  11 years later, where have we gone?  Is Hollywood just so dumb or afraid to make something new that all they can make are sequels, remakes, true stories, or stupid romantic comedies?  This is the prime example of how a fantastic premise can turn into a two hour drag fest.  The actors in this film are incredibly talented, so why did they end up making this forgettable film over a decade ago?  I don't know, but it seems that Osment will only be known as Cole in 'The Sixth Sense,' despite the strong performance he gives here.  I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone if they dislike romantic plots and confusing time streams.  I will, however recommend this first half hour of the film to anybody who's curious to see what this movie is like.  Everything after the moment alcohol Hunt asks scarred Spacey out on a date is a complete waste of time.  The absolute worst thing about the film is the ending, where let's just say that Osment's career comes back to haunt him, asking "why was I in this movie?"  Everything ends so moody, which is one of the many reasons why 'Pay it Forward' was the most disappointing film of 2000.  Even in 2011 I can acknowledge that, since there was barely anything hitting the theaters in 2000.  Happy Late Millennium! 

1 comment:

  1. Zach-
    Although I disagree with The Outsiders comments, I love that you are willing to express your opinions so strongly in your reviews. Your reviews are passionate and personal...keep up the great work.

    Mr. B


Hello viewers of this blog,

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- Zach Marsh