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Pay it Forward

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A Netflix movie I saw with my mom and grandma.

I didn't see any previews for this in the theatres.  But I saw it mentioned a couple of times and had heard that it had top-notch people in it.  Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment.  And Jim Caviezel, Angie Dickinson and Jon Bon Jovi in smaller parts.

Helen Hunt is a single mother in Las Vegas, working two jobs to make ends meet.   Kevin Spacey is a new social studies teacher at the school.  The first day of class he hands out an assignment:

Come up with an idea to change the world - and put it into action.

They show some of the ideas that the kids have.  Like calling all the kids in China and telling them to jump at the same time, thus knocking the Earth off its axis.   And some of the usual bleeding heart ideas, which I can't remember right now.

Hayley Joel Osment comes up with a new one.  Pick three people and do something really huge for them.  Something that's hard for you to do and impossible for them, without help.  They're not allowed to pay you back.  They have to find three people to help.  And so on.

The movie proceeds in both directions.  Near the beginning, Jay Mohr is a reporter whose car gets smashed while he's covering a story.  A passerby gives him his new Jaguar.  He tracks the guy down and learns about pay it forward from him.  The guy tells him who he learned it from, and so on backwards.

While all that is going on, we're seeing the progress Hayley Joel Osment's choices.   His first is Jim Caviezel, a homeless drug addict.  Hayley gives him food and lets him sleep in the garage.  Helen Hunt finds him the next day.  After the usual confrontation by a scared woman with a shotgun, he manages to calm her and tell her about her son's idea.

Back and forth, until Mohr finally knocks on Hayley's door.

Things don't go quite as planned, and there are some back slides.  Some of the people paying it forward are much different than one would expect.  The situations are usually interesting.

One bit that stuck out to both my mom and I is that Jim Caviezel's character seems to disappear in the middle of his story.  You expect him to be one of the links in the chain back to Hayley, but he's not.  We see him help someone, and then nothing.   It sure feels like something got cut.

On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Rental with Dinner.  Come up with an idea to change the world - and put it into action.

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Last modified: November 09, 2004
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