In her latest offering "Pay It Forward", director Mimi Leder (of "Deep Impact" fame) brings us highly charged emotional fare.
The film revolves around three primary characters: Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) is a physically and emotionally scarred social studies teacher; Arlene Mckinney (Helen Hunt) is a single mom struggling with two jobs and an alcohol problem; and Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) is Arlene's son, a sensitive young kid tormented at the thought of his drunk father coming back home.
Working on an assignment, Trevor comes up with an idea to make the world a better place. The idea is radically simple - you do three good deeds for three people and those three people, instead of paying it back, pay it forward by doing three good deeds for three other people each, and so forth. The movie unfolds as Trevor's idea struggles to germinate.
Based on a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Leslie Dixon has penned a touching screenplay interspersed with snatches of humour. The direction is also reasonably good, though one felt that the ending could've been handled better.
As Trevor, an idealistic twelve year old who struggles in his efforts to make the world a better place, Haley Joel Osment(remember "The Sixth Sense"?) more than holds his own against acclaimed actors like Kevin Spacey (Academy Award winner for both "American Beauty" and "The Usual Suspects") and Helen Hunt (Academy Award winner for "As Good As It Gets"). However, singer Jon Bon Jovi is wasted in an unnecessary cameo appearance.
The pacing is excellent and keeps the audience thoroughly involved in the plot throughout the film. The characters are well-rounded and their development is treated in a sensitive manner. Watch out for the soundtrack, it's reminiscent of the film "American Beauty" and definitely contributes its share to the film's atmosphere.
A movie about life which touches your heart, this is a "must see"...and don't forget to take your family along!This article was first published on 14 Feb 2001.