STOP AT THREE?
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001
I enjoyed the movie, but was left with a lingering question. Why
stop paying forward after three time? Christian love means continual
self-sacrifice on behalf of others.
3.5 OUT OF 4.0 MOVIE
Subject: Pay it Forward
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 2000
it Forward was a good 3.5 star movie. The cinematography was good,
and the acting was also generally good. It was definately refreshing
to see Helen Hunt in a role where she is less than perfect. The
film was pretty original as far as the broad story-line goes, although
it did subcome to many of the Hollywood cliches, for example the
relatioship between the teacher and Trevor's mother exhibits the
done story of a self-destructive woman and a somehow disabled person
meeting, falling in love, and then the latter person being discarded
for the woman's past. Yada yada. The film on the otherhand was also
able to escape some of the typical cliches of Hollywood. When the
homeless man is helped, instead of changing his life immediately,
he needs a graffic illustration of his own suicide in the external
form of a woman jumping from a bridge, to change his behaviour.
rather unfortunate element of the movie which threw it down a huge
peg was that the film had one of the worse and corniest endings
I have ever seen. If they had finished the movie no more than 2
minutes earlier, the film would be a solid four stars. The candle-light
vigil part was contrived, and in a way stood for bad ethics. It
seemed to say that Trevor's good acts were somehow rendered more
important by the fact that the general public became aware of his
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2000
I saw this movie last night upon the advice of a Christian counselor.
left feeling somewhat down. I'm afraid the basic premise of the
film is that "in spite of everything, people are really good at
heart." Trevor's contention at the end that "you can fix a person"
is simply not true. No one portrayed in the film was ultimately
fixed. All of them remained on a path of self-seeking that can end
only in death (both physical and spiritual). Only God in Christ
can "fix" a person.
final scene with the Jane Siberry song seemed to sum up the view
of the film, that somehow all of us "angels" can help one another
stumble through a bent but not fallen world to some sort of love
and meaning. I give the film credit for much more realism than most
fantasies about human goodness (i.e. "Patch
Adams"), but in the end it founders upon the same premise that
somehow the human spirit can create goodness and meaning apart from
the One who created us.
believe in freedom from "stumbling through" that is found in the
faith that is greater than the "faith in human nature" spoken of
by Mr. Simonet upon his first hearing of Trevor's idea. There is
freedom from living death in bondage to the gods of substances,
sex and money.
film was well-made, featured great performances from Spacey and
Hunt, and told a compelling story (if a bit manipulatively). But
the "freedom" that is promoted is not true freedom. Trevor's request
to Mr. Simonet to "pay it forward" back to his Mom and Jerry's plea
to the woman preparing to jump from the bridge to "save my life"
show that this film really is about "karma" and not grace.
wish it were otherwise.
It seems you do not believe Grace is made known through acts of
kindness, even when it comes from the "human spirit" which was created
in the very image of God. It is through such life experiences that
we can come to understand the Grace that God has for us in Christ
Jesus. God is very much involved in all aspects of human life, and
especially so where kindness is concerned. -David
BOARD FOR DISCUSSION ON FAITH
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000
believe this movie will be a great one to use as a springboard for
discussing our faith. We too received an incredible gift of grace
when Christ died for us "while we were yet sinners," and this gift
compels us to "pay it forward" by sharing the Good News with others.
So it seems natural to talk to others about this movie and what
they thought of it, to see if they have ever been on the giving
or receiving end of generosity and how it affected them... and then
to also to talk about our experience of God's grace.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000
Wow! I have never in my life seen a movie as deep and profound as
Pay It Forward. I think one reason whiy I liked it so much is because
it is real. It doesn't have the perfect "happily ever after" ending.
And in between the good deeds, people still screw up. But the encouraging
part is that his plan worked. In other words, no matter how young
or uneducated or prosperous you are, you can still make a difference.
just read the other reviews posted. I must say that I feel that
"Gretchen" missed the whole point of the film. She claims that the
most impossible idea is that an eleven year old can change the world.
Whereas, she feels that elders are responsible and we should not
expect children to be the gate openers. However, my perspective
is somewhat the opposite.
adults are suppose to be role models for children and encourage
them to strive for the best, but sometimes even adults need a little
enliightment in the world, and who better to provide that than their
pupils. In other words, chilldren are not being given the responsibility
of changing the world; they are just giving back to the world, what
the world has taught them. What good is a person who says that children
are suppose to be encouraged when they don't even believe that someone
that young could have the potential to make a difference.
The good book says, "And a little child shall lead them."
Thanks for your observations -David
ACTS OF KINDNESS
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000
I saw this movie last night, and thought it would definitely provide
some interesting discussions with non-believers. To begin with,
no one can argue that putting Trevor's plan into action is a bad
thing. Yes, there are sacrifices, and there are disappointments,
but that is because of the fallen nature of man. This movie definitely
shows the fallen nature. Even Trevor was saddened that he failed
in helping his friend, Adam, not to get beaten up. He saw his own
frailty and weakness. This is not a bad thing, to recognize our
own limitations. The drug addict himself even reminded me of the
passage in Romans, when Paul talk about not doing what he wants
to do, and doing what he does not want to do. This character was
sure he could lick the heroin, just by getting the step up, but
his own sinfulness was too much for him to bear. At the same time,
however, he could share an inkling of grace with another human being.
I would recommend going to see this, as the ultimate act of kindness
bestowed upon mankind was and will ever be the death of Christ on
the cross. Fortunately, we are not REQUIRED to pay it forward, but
how can we help but not to as we contemplate the grace given to
us. Thanks, Jan
I too thought the film was very realistic in its portrayal of human
OUR BAPTISM = PAYING IT FORWARD
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000
the current film, ?Pay It Forward,? the lead character, Trevor McKinny,
an 11-year-old living in Las Vegas, takes to heart a social studies
assignment: ?Think of an idea to change our world and put it into
action.? Trevor comes up with a plan he calls ?Pay It Forward,?
a benevolent pyramid scheme in which one person helps three other
people and then they - paying it forward - do the same for three
more folks and so on. By ?help,? however, Trevor means more than
just ?random acts of kindness,? like holding the door for someone
or even traditional ?good deeds,? like helping an old lady across
the street. In order for ?Pay It Forward? to work, an individual
must do something ?really big? and must help someone in a way only
familiar? It should!
the beginning of November, the church celebrates two ?feast days?
- holidays of a sort - called ?All Saints Day? and ?All Souls Day.?
On these days we remember those who have died in the faith and the
witness they have given to the faith and to the redeeming love of
God. Many Saints of the church are well known - St. Peter, St. Paul,
St. Francis, etc. Other ?saints? are less well known - the ?saint?
who brought you to church as a child, the ?saint? who spoke a word
of love and encouragement to you in a time of need, the ?saint?
who reached out to the poor and needy in our neighborhoods.
we think of saints as models of a perfection which we cannot attain.
I?d like to encourage you to think of the saints in a different
way: as people who were ?paying it forward.? Ask any true ?saint?
and I bet they?d tell you that the reason they live ?saintly? lives
is not for their own credit or perfection, but for others. Ask them
why they are so concerned about others, and I bet they?d reply that
?someone first was concerned about them.?
the Christian tradition, that ?someone? ultimately is Jesus Christ,
who through his life and death and resurrection began a gigantic
?Pay It Forward? project that changed and IS STILL changing the
world we live in. Like Trevor?s plan suggests, Christ's action was
not merely a ?random act of kindness? or a ?good deed.? Instead,
Christ went further than the ordinary call of civility, entering
into our lives and changing them fundamentally for the better and
forever. That is what we in the church call ?redemption.?
?Saints? we celebrate in the church and the ?saints? we celebrate
in our own communities are all part of that same plan, continuing
to pay not only Christ's goodness - but Christ's redemption - forward
to each generation. Jesus commanded his disciples to ?love one another
as I have loved you.? Jesus loves each of us significantly and in
a way only Jesus can. We are joined to that love through our baptism
and are charged whenever and wherever we see the need for redemption
to ?pay it forward.?
How insightful. Thank you. And, yes, paying it forward is a true
act of love by a living "saint."-David
TO SHADOWLANDS & MAN WITOUT A FACE
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000
I first found your site when exploring reviews of The
Sixth Sense and was very impressed with your exegesis of it.
Once again, with Pay it Forward, you have demonstrated the value
of your perspective with objective observation of details that no
other critic has noted.
a comment to IMDB that I submitted yesterday, I compared and contrasted
this film with two others.
trust that you are familiar with the author C.S. Lewis, and probably
with the film "Shadowlands." This
shows the Oxford don and famous Christian apologist ambivalently
fumbling towards the unfamiliar territory of love and marriage to
a woman whose hard-drinking husband had left her and her son.
you have also seen "The Man Without a Face", about a badly burn-scarred
teacher turned hermit, and the boy whose own alcoholic father had
deserted him, and who appeals to the teacher for help. Although
the film left no clear sign of the teacher's Christian faith other
than to show a sizeable crucifix over his bed, if you have also
read the original novel, you know that he is a Catholic, no less
devout for being matter-of-fact about it, and that an important
scene of the story occurs in church.
Pay it Forward, however, there is no evidence that any of the main
characters is a practicing Christian, and the path of least resistance
is to assume that they are not. I speculate either that the writer
and director were equally ignorant of the church's millennia-old
example of paying it forward, or that they knew but didn't want
any needles nearby that would puncture their balloon.
it is also possible, given the gestures towards portraying Trevor
as a Christ figure, that they wanted viewers to ponder why, after
such a long time, so many people in the world still have no idea
that his project is already embodied in the Church Militant. Holy
Baptism and Holy Orders are indeed big favors that a person cannot
do for himself, and that the church has a mission to propagate.
But beyond these not-entirely-tangible benefits, millions continue
to encounter the Church as a school, a hospital, or a filling meal.
If Trevor's helping a poor man is a good deed, then the church's
helping millions of the poor, with no expectation of repayment,
are also good deeds. Many charges are leveled against the church,
including that it is a successful Ponzi scheme, but I have never
yet heard it accused of being a bank, whereby a loan made must be
repaid to the lender. Despite all this, the result remains a world
in which people, even decent and well-disposed people like Trevor
and his teacher, do not appear to know Christ or acknowledge the
example of the church in their own ostensibly original good ideas.
is this? Part of the explanation is doubtless that people habitually
take things for granted, bite the hands that feed them, and fail
to give credit where credit is due. Nevertheless, churchmen must
also examine themselves: do some of our own attitudes and tactics
bring our Master into disrepute and inhibit His Great Commission?
I would call a tendency to excessive individualism one of these
obstacles, but your mileage may vary.
any rate, the Church herself has provided us with a particularly
appropriate opportunity in the liturgical year for doing just this
on November 1, the Feast of All Saints, which is, aptly, just around
the corner. This day is for giving thanks and meditating upon the
chain of countless, and mostly anonymous, predecessors who have
paid it forward by passing their faith down two millennia, so that
we can enjoy it now. To quote Isaac Watts, "Our glorious Leader
claims our praise for his own pattern given, while the long cloud
of witnesses show the same path to heaven." How did they do it?
How do they do it? The answer is obvious! Pay it forward. Thanks
for your well thought out comments. You have a wonderful theological
mind. And yes, Trevor is a Christ figure. -David
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000
From: "Scott Senn"
I went to this movie with great expectations. I left feeling a little
ripped off but after reflecting a bit I chastised myself for expecting
too much from the world. This could have been a GREAT movie! The
concept of sacrificing in a way that is "huge" and "hurtful to self"
is the Golden Rule to be sure. But it is the way things were "payed
forward" that was so gutwrenching. The movie sought to elevate too
much that was clearly either against the law or highly immoral.
The confusion of an 11yr. old is forgiveable, but the actions of
certain adults is not. At other times, paying it forward was really
paying it "backwards". If you return a favor to one who sent it,
it would stop the pyramid from expanding. So I did not understand
why the "pay-it-forward movement" seemed to have such a small momentum.
It was very much confined to the major characters in the movie.
No doubt, there will be some people who after seeing this movie
will do great and sacrificial things for others and this, in turn,
will benefit us all. In fact, I was watching an HBO special in which
Kevin Spacey was describing an encounter with a woman who told him
that she had "payed-it-forward" as well. And I have to admit that
I was deeply moved to the point of tears at various points (as were
many others). Do I think this movie will change the world? Not a
chance. But it is a movie that will cause even the hardest of hearts
to soften and that is never a bad thing.
I have always believed that STORY is very different from Instructional
How To Manuals. The story here speaks of placing value on others.
It is a simple story and can not be taken as a literal-can-happen
Instructional Manual. This story teaches us a way of living that
can touch others at a profoundly deep level. -David
Pay It Forward Comments
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000
From: Liz Maryland
premise of the movie is a good idea....do "good things" for three
people and then they do good things for three more and so on (like
that old shampoo commercial..."I told three people about it and
they told three more"...sorry! couldn't help it!). However, all
of the positive messages in the movie (perseverence, unconditional
love, doing good works) was so obscured by the many bad things that
kept happening. It was just so DARK and depressing over and over
again. I guess that I was supposed to leave the movie feeling uplifted
and encouraged that if I were to "pay it forward" it would make
a difference. Everyone kept failing so much in the film, that it
seemed to present more of a futile view of passing along good deeds.
As if to say, "What's the point? Everyone's going to lapse back
into their old ways anyway..."
would have liked to have seen some reference to some "higher authority"
or deeper, inner reason for paying it forward. The only connection
to God that I heard was a song about angels at the end. The one
nugget that I did glean from the movie was that you may never KNOW
how your actions or words may affect other people (the characters
were almost all clueless as to what they had done) and these can
be much more far-reaching than you could ever imagine. It reinforces
the idea that we should not be expecting a reward (or "pay back")
for doing good...we should "Just Do It"!
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000
It was nice of you to untangle all the threads of this convoluted
plot. It was also nice of you to be able to focus on the concept
of doing good deeds, but this movie is so flawed that I wouldn't
recommend sitting through it. Just do some good deeds instead. The
plot is overblown, immorality is presented as redemptive, but what
pushes this movie from the "not completely successful" category
to the "creepy" category is that the only functional human being
in the entire film is eleven years old. Maybe if you want to see
this as some kind of allegory, that's okay, but if you actually
happen to know any eleven year olds, the idea of shoving off all
the responsibility of solving homelessness, substance abuse and
poverty onto their shoulders seems....like another typical attitude
of the "Me" generation. We thought about saving the world . . .
but it was too hard. We give up. Maybe our kids will do it. I'm
all for inspiring teens into action...but it's also our job to lead
the way and smooth the way, not push them in front. Gretchen