Pay It Forward - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pay It Forward Reviews

Top Critic
David Ansen
Newsweek
March 31, 2008
Top Critic
Derek Adams
Time Out
February 9, 2006
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 6, 2002
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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
March 22, 2002
Less a worthy achievement than a nice try.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
June 25, 2001
With its smorgasbord of moralizings, Pay It Forward is a confusing welter of sentiment.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
June 4, 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.
| Original Score: 0.5/5
Top Critic
Paul Tatara
CNN.com
January 1, 2000
Has to be the most oppressive 'feel good' picture in movie history.
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
January 1, 2000
As it stands now, Pay It Forward winds up making a very good case for never going out of your way to help anybody.
Top Critic
John Anderson
Newsday
January 1, 2000
Keeps zigging and zagging between plots and subplots that don't really matter.
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
January 1, 2000
| Original Score: C
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 1, 2000
It's a pretty nice movie until, like a Ponzi plan, it collapses.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
January 1, 2000
Osment truly is as good as it gets where kid thesps are concerned.
Top Critic
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
January 1, 2000
Wants so badly for us to feel something -- inspired, teary, shocked -- that it leaves us merely numb.
Top Critic

Ebert & Roeper
January 1, 2000
Top Critic
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
January 1, 2000
The result is about as organic as a pink Hostess Snowball.
Top Critic
Bob Graham
San Francisco Chronicle
January 1, 2000
Has all the elements of a satisfying movie except knowing when to stop. The rest is good enough, however, that it will do.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
January 1, 2000
It tells a story that audience members will want to like, but it doesn't tell it strongly and cleanly enough; it puts too many loops into the plot, and its ending is shamelessly soapy for the material.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
January 1, 2000
The combination of restrained writing and direction and top-of-the-line acting is enough to make even confirmed agnostics want to believe in this unashamed fairy tale.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Jonathan Foreman
New York Post
January 1, 2000
Inspirational Oscar-bait undermined by bad casting.
Top Critic
David Germain
Associated Press
January 1, 2000
Worthwhile for the performances.
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
January 1, 2000
The idea is simple, sweet and catchy, like a pop song, and Pay it Forward is almost as irresistible as Trevor's idea.
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
January 1, 2000
Unceasingly manipulative.
Full Review | Original Score: D
Top Critic

Toronto Star
January 1, 2000
Top Critic
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
January 1, 2000
Offers more potential than payoff.
| Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
January 1, 2000
The three principals have been encouraged to recycle their recently acclaimed performances and, when at a loss for something to do, to fall back on their specialty acts.
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
January 1, 2000
No wonder Arlene keeps a bottle of vodka in the chandelier. You would too with this demonic, passive-aggressive, New Age munchkin trying to run your life.
Top Critic
Steven Rosen
Denver Post
January 1, 2000
Toploaded with manipulative schmaltz, star-turn moments, intentionally unflattering makeup, unbelievable plot twists and just plain twaddle.
Top Critic
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
January 1, 2000
The year's most manipulative movie.
Top Critic
Susan Wloszczyna
USA Today
January 1, 2000
Tissues or barf bag, take your pick. Personally, I was glad I grabbed a handful of concession napkins. Judging by the chorus of sniffles, I wasn't alone.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
January 1, 2000
So enamored of its own upbeat view of human nature that it expects you to overlook its stick-figure characters, its creaky plot machinery and its remorseless assault on your tear ducts.
| Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Erik Lundegaard
Seattle Times
January 1, 2000
Hard-hearted critic that I am, I even found tears welling up near the end. But it's dishonest in its execution, and a tad dull after a promising beginning.
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
January 1, 2000
Hollywood feel-goodism at its best (or worst, depending on your Patch Adams tolerance quotient).
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Kevin Maynard
Mr. Showbiz
January 1, 2000
Despite being full of Oscar-winning talent, this is still just a better-dressed, drawn-out episode of Touched by an Angel.
Top Critic
Jay Carr
Boston Globe
January 1, 2000
It's carried to an amazing degree by its performances.
Top Critic
Sean P. Means
Film.com
January 1, 2000
If a movie can coax tears out of me, touch me in a way that the tears flow naturally, more power to it. But stealing my tears by beating me over the head with manipulated schmaltz is a cheat.
Top Critic
Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
January 1, 2000
Despite the concerted efforts of its Oscar pedigree cast to keep it real, Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and impressive young Haley Joel Osment unfortunately find themselves smothered by the schmaltz.
Top Critic
Susan Stark
Detroit News
January 1, 2000
You witness the first, testing, tension-packed conversation between Spacey and Osment, as pregnant in its silences as in its words, and you are ready to go wherever this movie leads you.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Robert Horton
Film.com
January 1, 2000
Some very affecting performances.
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
January 1, 2000
Both affecting and effective.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mark Caro
Chicago Tribune
January 1, 2000
An example of how a movie can emotionally blackmail an audience.