Pay Forward Movie Review Essay Outline

Last time we covered the essay on music. Today I want to represent a movie essay. A motion picture has great impact on our lives no other form of art has. The movies are truly an art of our time. Thousands of good movies to write essays on were shot. Watching movies we are looking for some kind of truth, something that can show us amazing world of surprises and more beautiful things than we can observe in our actual life. The imaginary story stays in our minds for long time. I recollected the film I watched years ago. It impressed me the most. That is why I have decided to take it as an example and write the evaluation essay on a movie.

I am going to review the film titled “Pay it forward” based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde and directed by Mimi Leder. This movie is a drama central insight of which is helping people to change the world for the better. I think “Pay it forward” is the best film showing the reality of life.

The main character is Trevor McKinney beginning seventh grade in Las Vegas. Eugene Simonet, a new teacher of social studies gives his students an assignment to elaborate the plan that can change the world for the better. Trevor’s idea is as simple in its content as difficult in realization. He called the plan “Pay it forward” meaning that he does a favor for three people and asks each of them to “pay forward” by doing a favor to the next three people and so on. The first person he helps is a homeless addict whose name is Jerry. Trevor let him to live in the garage. Jerry pays forward by repairing a car. Discovering a homeless person Trevor’s mother Arlene feels anger. She meets the teacher to discuss the assignment. Eugene is the next man Trevor chooses for his experiment. The boy wants to connect people he loves. The third person is his classmate who suffers violence of bully schoolboys. Then his project starts to fail: addict is taking drugs again, his mother and Eugene are quarreling all the time, Trevor’s afraid to protect his classmate. But through his mother and granny the idea of "pay the favor forward" begins its own life in other cities. A reporter Chris Chandler gets a car as a gift this way. He is interested in it and starts his own investigation to find the initiator. He makes a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and interviews Trevor. Watching the monologue Eugene is inspired to make a proposal to Arlene. Trevor being successful in his experiment finds strength to protect his classmate. But one of the bullies appears to have a knife and the main character dies. This news is mentioned on television while airing Trevor's interview. Hundreds of people, the followers of “paying forward” movement, visit Arlene’s house to pay Trevor their respect.

The film “Pay it forward” covers such concepts as:

  • Indifference. It is the scariest trait we have. This is one of the main problems nowadays and we must eradicate it. The movie shows us the struggle with indifference. And the end of the film proves that this problem can be solved.
  • Connection. Although we all belong to different countries and continents we all are united and live at the same planet. This movie brings us the simple system according to which it is possible to connect people.
  • Love. It appears within all person’s aspects. “Pay it forward” covers love not only between man and woman, but also between mother and son, between daughter and mother. Surely, the main kind of love is the love to the world that Trevor is trying to change.

The movie shows us the reality of life. All characters are close to real people and we can meet their problems every day. Actors played their roles perfectly. Haley Joel Osment as 12-year-old Trevor McKinney acted so confidently that you start to believe him. His character is a seven-grade student. He is naïve as a child but smart enough to think of life problems. He connects the fantastic picture into a possible reality talking about “paying forward” into a camera. His monologue is filled with such feelings and emotions that you understands a child’s mind is a miracle. Although Osment’s character doesn’t show here many emotions his eyes speak much.

Kevin Spacey as a teacher of social studies is amazing. This character impresses students by his determination. He is fearless to face the and to accept his own ugliness. Seeing him alone you can notice that Eugene is tired from loneliness and lives by the schedule. Spacey connects these two sides of the character changing them completely during all movie.

Another interesting main character is Trevor’s mother Arlene played by Helen Hunt. Although Arlene tries to deal with her weakness to drinks sometimes she cannot control herself. She loves her son so much that she even forbids her mother to communicate with Trevor. Helen Hunt was able to convey both sides of her character perfectly. She shows us the conflict between alcoholism and love to her son in such realistic way that you start to worry about her. The characters of Spacey and Hunt become spiritually linked by the formula of “paying forward”. They start to understand that self-interest isn’t actual and the life values more.

The original soundtracks are worth to mention in the movie analysis essay. Thomas Newman being a composer of the film created great music that touch your very soul. Some moments provided with a specific music cause the appearance of deep emotions especially the end of the movie including touching sounds and overall background.

“Pay it forward” is a kind, understandable and instructive film. It gives us an opportunity to look at the world as Trevor sees it. He suggests the simple way of changing it for the better by doing a favor to three people. But the plan is difficult in realization as most of people are indifferent. After watching the movie you start to think about changing yourself and your life for the better. We learn that helping each other is a good and necessary thing nowadays. This budget movie without any visual effects surpasses other films by its sense.

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Someone does you a good turn. You pass it on to three other people. They pass it on. And what a wonderful world this will be. That's the theory behind "Pay It Forward," a movie that might have been more entertaining if it didn't believe it. It's a seductive theory, but in the real world, altruism is less powerful than selfishness, greed, nepotism, xenophobia, tribalism and paranoia. If you doubt me, take another look at the front pages.

Consider Las Vegas, the setting of the movie. If every person in trouble there paid it forward to three more people, there would be more Gamblers Anonymous members than gamblers. An intriguing premise, but not one that occurs to this movie--although Alcoholics Anonymous plays a supporting role and paying it forward is of course the 12th step.


The movie has its heart in the right place, but not its screenplay. It tells a story that audience members will want to like, but it doesn't tell it strongly and cleanly enough; it puts too many loops into the plot, and its ending is shamelessly soapy for the material. Two or three times during the film I was close to caving in and going with the flow, but the story lost the way and I was brought back up to the surface again.

Haley Joel Osment, the gifted young actor from "The Sixth Sense," stars as Trevor, a resourceful latchkey kid whose father has disappeared and whose mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt), works two jobs as a Vegas cocktail waitress. She's a recovering alcoholic with a few relapses still to go. At school, Trevor is impressed by the grave, distant presence of his new teacher, Mr. Simonet (Kevin Spacey), whose face is scarred by burns.

Mr. Simonet doesn't want to win any popularity contests. "Do I strike you as someone falsely nice?" he asks Trevor. "No," the boy replies thoughtfully, "you're not even really all that nice." But Trevor responds to the lack of condescension in the teacher's manner: Mr. Simonet has standards and applies them in the classroom. On the first day of school, he writes the year's assignment on the blackboard: Think of an idea that could change the world. Trevor thinks. Things happen in his life to help him think and guide his thinking, and before long his mother discovers that a homeless man (James Caviezel) is living in their garage. It was Trevor's idea to invite him in. Then he can pay it forward.

There are complications. One of Trevor's theories is that his mom and Mr. Simonet would both be a lot happier if they were dating each other. Mr. Simonet does not agree. Spacey does a wonderful job of suggesting the pain just beneath the surface of the character; the teacher's life is manageable only because he sticks to his routine. But Trevor plugs away, all but shoving the two adults toward each other. This is, unfortunately, the kind of self-propelling plot device that, once allowed into a movie, takes it over and dictates an obligatory series of events. Since it is self-evident that Trevor is right, we know with a sinking feeling that the screenplay must detour into tentative acceptance, hurt rejection, silly misunderstandings, angry retreats, confessions, tearful reconciliations and resolutions, all in the usual order.


The movie intercuts between the predictable progress of the romance and the uncertain progress of Trevor's pay-it-forward scheme. We meet various supporting characters who get involved in paying it forward, and the time line is not always clear. The movie opens with one of those off-the-shelf hostage crisis scenes that ends with a criminal crashing into a reporter's car, and a stranger giving the reporter a new Jaguar. He's paying it forward. Then we flash back to "four months earlier" and Trevor's first day of school, but soon we're back to the present again, as the reporter tries to track down the pay-it-forward stories, and the lawyer who gave away the Jaguar tells why.

This leads to another flashback: When the lawyer's daughter had an asthma attack and was ignored in an emergency room, he explains, a gun-waving African-American stabbing victim forced a nurse to give the kid oxygen and told him to pay it forward. It's an effective cameo, but it's awkward the way the movie cuts between scenes like that, Trevor's own setbacks and the tentative romance.

With a cleaner story line, the basic idea could have been free to deliver. As it is, we get a better movie than we might have, because the performances are so good: Spacey as a vulnerable and wounded man; Hunt as a woman no less wounded in her own way, and Osment, once again proving himself the equal of adult actors in the complexity and depth of his performance. I believed in them and cared for them. I wish the movie could have gotten out of their way.

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