Pay It Forward

This soft-boiled sub-Spielbergian mush is a children's film for grown-ups who never grew up. In a scurrilous bid to muscle in on Robin Williams' territory, Spacey plays social studies teacher Eugene Simonet, a virgin with bad skin and a preposterous vocabulary. Mr Simonet sets a class project: to think of an idea to change our world and act on it. Lonely, serious Trevor (Osment) comes up with an inspired wheeze. He brings home a tramp (Caviezel), gives him a place to stay for the night, and sets him straight on a few things. Don't return the favour to me, he tells him, pay it forward to three strangers, and tell each to do the same. Only a hardcore cynic would diss such an altruistic daydream but somewhere along the line the message gets scrambled. A singularly ill-judged, suspense-crushing subplot has reporter Mohr tracing the phenomenon from its tentacles in Chicago, where one man has given a perfect stranger his Jaguar. The script's relatively realist Las Vegas milieu is ill-served by director Leder's sentimental overkill, while Spacey and Hunt (as Trevor's alcoholic waitress mom) make heavy weather of being normal. (From the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.) TCh.

Release details

Duration: 123 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mimi Leder
Screenwriter: Leslie Dixon
Cast: Kevin Spacey
Helen Hunt
Haley Joel Osment
Jay Mohr
James Caviezel
Jon Bon Jovi
Angie Dickinson
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