Pay It Forward (2000) - Rotten Tomatoes

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.

Pay It Forward Trailers & Photos

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, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (for mature elements: substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language and brief violence)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Leslie Dixon
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 15, 2001
Box Office: $32.8M
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site

News & Interviews for Pay It Forward

Critic Reviews for Pay It Forward

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (40)

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.'

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Less a worthy achievement than a nice try.

Full Review… | March 22, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 25, 2001
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

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
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

A bit syrupy, but sentimental teens may enjoy it.

Full Review… | December 27, 2010
Common Sense Media

Ironic, isn't it, that a film about human decency takes place in Vegas?

Full Review… | June 23, 2008

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

Super Reviewer

Decent movie.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

want to see it

Anatoliy Dudaev
Anatoliy Dudaev

Super Reviewer

Pay It Forward Quotes

Sidney: Man, it's like, the world is a shit hole..excuse my French..and it's like..I just thought.. like.. BOOM! It's like the whole shit can be better!
– Submitted by Sephia R (3 years ago)
Ricki: Don't argue with an idiot.
– Submitted by Ellina S (3 years ago)
Jerry: You ever been on the street?
Arlene McKinney: My mom took us pretty close.
Jerry: Well, you can't know. Not until you look at a dumpster. But when you climb into that thing for the first time and you pull those newspapers over you, that's when you know you've messed your life up. Somebody comes along like your son, and gives me a leg up, I'll take it. Even from a kid, I'll take it.
– Submitted by JuanYamanda R (3 years ago)

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