Pay It Forward - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pay It Forward Reviews

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January 3, 2017
"Pay It Forward" is the story of a boy's extra credit assignment to make the world a better place and the people who are touched by it. It sounds cheesy but the dramatic execution of this simple concept is enjoyable (a little farfetched, but enjoyable). It doesn't hurt that it employs the dynamic cast of Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, and Jim Caviezel. It also doesn't hurt that it has a whimsical score by Thomas Newman and generates a great deal of emotion with its ending. It touches on real-world themes like alcoholism, divorce, domestic abuse, and bullying so that all audience members can relate in one way or another. Spacey is as good as ever with this role that allows him to play both an inspirational teacher and a fragile, abused man. Caviezel is the other actor that stands out as really delivering his emotions. Osment again proves his ability to act as well as the adults and Hunt plays her vulnerable role well. It is a well-written story as the lives of these unrelated characters converge because of a single boy's dream. "Pay It Forward" is pretty straightforward but there are a few surprises and emotional monologues that set this one apart from Lifetime original movies.
October 30, 2016
10/10- A great film. It is an entertaining movie that shows how we could make society a better place. I would recommend this if you haven't seen this already.
October 10, 2016
This is one of the best movies i have ever seen! people can learn from this movie and families will be closer together from THE IDEA OF PAYING FORWARD
½ October 6, 2016
An overly sentimental PSA for kindnesses.
September 5, 2016
too emotionally manipulative? Its an adapted screenplay for Godsake. Nothing wrong with the movie, its perfect.
½ August 1, 2016
Yes there are cheesy elements to this film, but I love the concept and despite the rough times in this, it is an easy going build up to a moralistic tale.
July 31, 2016
Sure it has its flaws but in its grande, ambitious take on life, it seems only apt that there should be some chinks in this movie's armour. On the whole, it's a touching,superbly acted and though-provoking narrative.
June 5, 2016
Pay it forward delivers fantastic performances by Spacey, Osment, and Hunt. There's no aruging with that. All the acting involved in this movie is solid and I really have no complaints (acting wise) what so ever. But, what I didn't care mainly was the ending. And, some of the storyline. Their were some scenes that dragged on a little too long, and emotinal subjects that felt a little preachy at times and tedious. And, usually I'm ok with thosew kind of movies. It's not the over power of emotion and hertbreak that got to me in this film; it's that there were hardly any redeeming qualitys or points made in the main charaactors that made it worth it for me. All in all I enjoyed the chemistry between the three stars, but the ending was unnecessary and for me, totally lost the point. 3 stars for the performances. Storyline: 2 stars.
½ April 28, 2016
Good movie, but has a bad ending.
April 9, 2016
Airight, the ending is bad. But that only means the world is, though not exactly, shit. And some things need to be manipulative, It shouldn't be considered 'just an oscar bid' .
April 6, 2016
I really didn't enjoy this film. It tries to be sentimental, but fails miserably.
½ February 2, 2016
Pay It Forward is a film that should work in concept, but kind of falls apart in the execution. The idea of one young boy starting a wave of good deeds that spreads quickly and dramatically as part of a simple school project is inspiring. I also love that the film is traveling forward and backwards in the chain of good deeds at the same time, it gives a nice reference point for the cause-and-effect of the Pay It Forward movement. Haley Joel Osment has a good handle on emotional content, and plays a decent range of emotions which can be hard for actors his age. Kevin Spacey is also delightful as his teacher who struggles with the demons of his past which he's reminded of every time he looks in the mirror. There might have been a couple of overly melodramatic moments from his character, but they helped to define him and make him a more sympathetic figure in the story. However, despite the good aspects, the movie struggles because of certain serious failures.

First of all, Helen Hunt is horribly miscast. I'm not sure if she just can't act, or can't handle this kind of role, but it's a disaster. Her range feels so limited here and the part calls for extremely deep emotional moments. She has to display fear, loss, love, rage, pity, frustration, and so much more and I don't see even half of those emotions in her performance. The next problem is that they don't do enough to show the number of good deeds that are going on. Instead of focusing on the 3 big acts that each person is supposed to perform, we basically only see 1 per person. It really throws off some of the climax because we're supposed to see that this thing is so huge, but we only witness like 6 total acts of kindness. Finally, and this will be a spoiler, the ending ruins the whole thing. This film needed the positive and uplifting ending to inspire audiences, but they go with a dark and somber one which leaves you depressed instead of challenged. I can't say that Pay It Forward is a straight-up bad film, I just think it seriously dropped the ball, and fell short of its potential.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2016
A nice story but way to heavy handed and with gringeworthy performances. Much like her other films, director Mimi Leder concentrates on the less important factors of the story and lets the 'message' slip into the ether. Spacey and Hunt however, only have themselves to blame for their awful acting.
January 3, 2016
Kevin Spacey always puts on a great performance.
December 20, 2015
A few questionable musical choices aside, this one deserved much better reviews than it got.
Super Reviewer
December 7, 2015
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.
½ December 4, 2015
Since the movie script was based on a book, I couldn't see much benefit from projecting the story onto the big screen. Major points for the idea, the cast, but it doesn't go much further than that, unfortunately.
½ November 29, 2015
Haley Joel Osment plays a young student in the 7th grade who encounters a new social studies teacher Kevin Spacey in Pay it Forward. He gets an assignment to try and improve the world, and comes up with the idea to help somebody, and then that person must in turn help 3 people. He starts with his mom (Helen Hunt) and it leads to a budding relationship with his mom and teacher. Pay It Forward is hoaky, but does its best to wrap itself in a realistic shell. The film has some interesting concepts, but overall it is a bad romance filled with ideas that would not happen outside of a Hollywood film.
½ November 2, 2015
When was the last time you saw a move extolling the virtues of the New Deal welfare system? You have never seen a single movie from Hollywood that suggested in any way that the welfare system has any value. Quite to the contrary, people on welfare are described by Hollywood as welfare bums, "on the dole", Welfare cheats - as if it is even possible to cheat on welfare, the whole concept makes absolutely no sense, or welfare cheats just because they're on welfare. It's easy to say things like that when one's sole obsession is either lobbying the government to reduce the taxes or figuring out ways to cheat the government on taxes owed for millions of dollars generated through ripping off consumers on a mass basis.
Welfare isn't a right, it isn't a benefit, it meant the difference between life and death for those whose predicament is of such kind.
So as a counterbuttal to figuring out how to fit a swimming pool into a stretch limousine, Hollywood has produced a gem of a cropolite in Pay it Forward. All of the values expounded by the Reagan/ John F. Kennedy/Tamany hall faction have been synthesized into one horrific mess extolling the virtues of "it's not what you can do for your country...blah blah blah" i.e. "working as a prostitute is all well and good, but if you pay it forward and make a ""contribution" to society" so I can put a new swimming pool in my limo that would be far better."
½ October 31, 2015
Wonderful movie but such a sad ending... Still an amazingly written script.
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