Haley Joel Osment teaches us to Pay It Forward (2000)
The concept starts off as a simple class assignment and evolves into a cult movement that sweeps right across America. Unfortunately, the end is quite surprising but with moving performances from Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, this is definitely a film worth the time.
The story alternates timelines starting from the present and the backing up to four months earlier with Trevor McKinney (Osment) in his first day of middle school in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he meets his new social studies teacher Mr. Eugene Simonet (Spacey).
Fortunately, there is nothing artificial about him this time and he does not see dead people. Instead, he sees a way to make the world a better place and then plants the seed that grows into a good will movement.
Although there are essences of his famous role alongside Bruce Willis like when he spies on his mother and Mr. Simonet.
Spacey puts in an amazing performance as Mr. Simonet, a social studies teacher with a violent past that doesn’t seem to social well with his peers. This develops a complex yet well meaning, contrasting character – a hypocrite, one would say. Trevor’s mother too has these qualities.
The mother, played by Helen Hunt, is a recovering alcoholic mother holding two jobs. However, no one can hear what she wants (a pun on her film with Mel Gibson – What Women Want) so she drowns it all in the bottle but it creates more violence. Now, there is a shocking scene in which she slaps Trevor across the face but rest assured she only does it once.
The drama maintains a steady pace all throughout, alternating acts until they intertwine in the present. This can be a bit confusing if you are not concentrating. However, the story is absolutely enlightening and captivating that I doubt there will be lack of attention. Unfortunately the ending is not as I had expected which was a bit disappointing. However, like all great stories, there has to be some tragedy.
Based on the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde of the same name, this 2000 film was scripted for film by Leslie Dixon and directed by Mimi Leder which explains the overbearing emotional qualities. However, male audience should not fret, there is enough room for some masculinity and comedy.
PS: If you like this review then please pay if forward.