In the world of
Pay It Forward
-by Andrew Goletz and Erich Schoeneweiss
This is a tough film to write about. [AG: Even tougher
to sit through] I can't quite put my finger on why it is so difficult
for me to write about this except, I must admit it is very difficult to discuss
this movie without talking about the last 15 minutes. Some, like Entertainment
Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum have
blatantly given the ending away (read my upcoming column for more on this
blasphemous act). I will say this:
the film does not work emotionally or logically without the aliens invading the
earth in the last fifteen minutes (oops, sorry!) [AG: Haha. That was
pretty funny, E]. Ok, on to the film. [AG: Please, no! I
don’t want to be reminded!] Child wunderkind Haley Joel Osment (you know we're going to be reading about
this kid strung out on crack and crystal meth in about eight years) plays Trevor
McKinney, a weary, somewhat disillusioned seventh grader.
His mom, Arlene McKinney (a sexy, yet at times frightening looking Helen
Hunt), is an alcoholic who must hide bottles of booze from Trevor because she
has promised him over and over she has quit drinking. She works the casinos and
strip clubs of Vegas as a cocktail waitress to try to support her addiction and
her son. Trevor has few friends,
those he has are small and constantly beaten upon by bullies. Mostly, Trevor is alone and not very enthused by the world
around him. That is until Eugene
Simonet, a physically and emotionally scarred Kevin Spacey, enters his life as
his new Social Studies teacher. The
assignment, if they choose to accept it, is to find a way in which they can
interact with the world and try to make it a better place. Thus, Pay It Forward
is born. [AG: Erich makes
this movie sound almost interesting at this point. In fact, this is one of the
movies I was most looking forward to seeing. You’d think after The Blair Witch
Project and Dogma, I’d learn my lesson? There’s really nothing more for me
to comment on about the set-up, as he gave you the gist of the story, but I will
say that I don’t remember a cast this talented being wasted this much
since…well, ever. Three Oscar caliber actors, four if you count Jim
Trevor devises a plan by which he will help three people with
something big, something that they can not do for themselves.
In turn, they must help three people. And so on, and so on…you get the
picture. A noble idea that is also
somewhat self serving, as Trevor sticks pretty close to home with his choices.
The film can be looked at as extremely righteous.
We all need to be nicer and look out for our common man, blah, blah,
blah. On this level, it bored the
hell out of me. [AG: I didn’t mind the preachiness of the film. I thought
it was a noble idea, but the movie doesn’t spend that much time developing the
idea of paying it forward or the ramifications it has on people. We get small
glimpses of how it affects people’s lives. I think this was really more the
story about Simonet’s redemption than anything else. Without giving too much
away, Simonet is the most developed character and the scars run deeper than what
one can see on his body. Fine. But that’s an entirely different movie and the
clichéd revelations throughout the film make one tend to groan more than
anything] If that's what I had
wanted I would have stayed home and watched PAX TV.
The film is also loaded with cliches and stereotypes. One look at Helen
Hunt's character and we know who and where she's been. Kevin Spacey's teacher
looks like he's been dipped in a vat of wax and left to dry.
His character is even more obvious, I was waiting for his big
emotional "I know more than you do because this is what happened to
me" speech, and oh boy do we get it.
Ironically though, the best part of the film (aside from the
laugh I got when John Bon Jovi shows up) is the relationship between Arlene
and Eugene (man, I just realized how retarded their names sound together).
I believed in it. I've talked to some who felt that they didn't have any
chemistry, but I believe the two really worked together and I believe that she
would and could find a man as scarred as he is attractive after all the other
horrible men she had been with over the years.
Is this an Oscar caliber film? [AG:If this was the only film that came out this year it
still wouldn’t be an Oscar contender] If it's a weak year (and so far it
has been), than yes. But the
performances were not as complex and award worthy as the three actors past work
(with the possible exception of Osment who has now Paid It Forward twice for
that piece of crap Bogus he made in his youth). There will be five better Best Picture possibilities and Mimi
Leder's direction allowed the film to amble at times. The film should have been tighter and about 20 minutes
shorter [AG: More like an hour shorter]. I recommend waiting for video, [AG:
and fast-forward through all this crap on your own] in return you must Pay
It Forward by telling three friends to wait for video also.
Back to work….
Pay It Forward: Andrew- 1.5 Griffins (out of 4)
Pay It Forward: Erich- 2.5 Griffins (out of 4)
GHM Avg: 2 Griffins (out of 4)
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