“What Goes Around Comes Around? Doing Good Deeds in a Bad World”

The Synopsis

Young Trevor McKinney, troubled by his mother’s alcoholism and fears of his abusive but absent father, is caught up by an intriguing assignment from his new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. Trevor’s efforts to make good on his idea bring a revolution not only in the lives of himself, his mother and his physically and emotionally scarred teacher, but in those of an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him. Written by Jim Beaver


Published: October 20, 2000

The title of ”Pay It Forward” refers to an idea dreamed up by a seventh grader named Trevor McKinney who lives with his mother, a waitress struggling to stay on the wagon, in a modest ranch-style house on the edge of Las Vegas. Trevor’s social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet, a sarcastic fellow with a badly scarred face and an impressive vocabulary, has given his class a yearlong extra-credit assignment: to think of something that will change the world and to put it into action.

The concept has a beguiling simplicity, and the movie’s thesis is that the rippling out of what a popular bumper sticker calls ”random, senseless acts of kindness” might tip the world’s moral balance and make it a better place. (A real foundation has been set up to foster the spirit of Trevor’s project, which in the film spawns a movement.)

A more benign (and legal) version of the pyramid con, ubiquitous on the Internet, is the chain letter. It is a game whose essentially coercive nature, camouflaged in the mystical language of community. ”Pay It Forward” perpetrates a similar kind of manipulation. It’s so enamored of its own upbeat view of human nature that it expects you to overlook its stick-figure characters, its creaky plot machinery and its remorseless assault on your tear ducts.

But, of course, there’s never any doubt about the essential goodness that lurks inside the teacher’s prickly carapace. There’s goodness in everyone, except for a gang of schoolyard bullies and Arlene’s abusive husband (Jon Bon Jovi), who shows up to spike the film’s melodramatic volume. Once again, Mr. Osment, with his cupid’s-bow scowl and his watchful blue eyes, is gifted with second sight. He sees nice people.

In the spirit of the movie, I’ll do them the kindness of keeping the secret. In exchange, maybe the studio will approve three honest movies that respect the audience’s intelligence and good sense. Is that too utopian?

Viewers Reactions and Recommendations

What movies are supposed to be
Author: Greg-195 from Charlotte, NC
8 October 2000

Pay It Forward is a prime example of what films are supposed to do: make you laugh a little, cry a lot, and profoundly affect you in a way that keeps you thinking about the movie for weeks afterwards. I saw it at a special preview screening and was blown away. My friends and I sat through the entire credits because we were so taken by what we had seen. Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and the phenomonal Haley Joel Osment once again give performances worthy of Oscars. I only hope there isn’t some “retaliation” of sorts because of their previous wins and nominations because they deserve it again this year. But the big winner here is director Mimi Leder who has moved from action films into great cinema. She demonstrates the fine tuned skills she showed while directing ER. As I sat there, one eye kept a close watch of the story while the other marveled at the beautiful direction of every scene. They have my vote for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay. Awe-inspiring!!!!

Despite the shortcomings – well played and at times inspiring
Author: graham clarke (
3 May 2004

I remember leaving the cinema, feeling very much let down by the end of “Pay it Forward”. Watching it recently on television I find myself far more forgiving since it’s a movie with a sincere and important message, expressed with conviction. The quasi-religious ending probably will appeal to many, but from an artistic viewpoint, it seems unnecessary and not entirely suited to the tone of the film up to that point.

Kevin Spacey is effective as the suppressed, sensitive teacher, while Helen Hunt is terrific, despite the role being far too close for comfort with her “As Good As It Gets” character. But it’s Hailey Joel Osment’s wonderful portrayal that gives “Pay It Forward” much of its power. He simply is perfect for the part. (Good to see Angie Dickenson, braving it in the role of a homeless alcoholic).

At its best, this is a film which may just do the impossible: inspiring one to good deeds, without expectation of reward or remuneration. That alone is a substantial achievement.


Luke 6:34-36

34″If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35″But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36″Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Doing good to others and moving lives. An act of compassion to others promoted by a veteran Filipino TV Personality.

Mr. Daniel Razon

Kahit Isang Araw Lang

What started as a TV program commentary turned into an advocacy, and changed the way Filipinos view a day in their lives.

“Kahit Isang Araw Lang” (Just One Day) is the bold call of Kuya Daniel Razon for people to do the good they can to others even for just one day.

Being its prime advocate, Kuya Daniel, the multi-talented and awarded media personality, shows that Kahit Isang Araw Lang is a worthy cause as he himself mounts numerous massive humanitarian projects that provide social and welfare assistance to the poor in the Philippines.

Through all his public service efforts and more, Kuya Daniel is hopeful that people will realize that no evil will ever result from doing good—the very essence of his Kahit Isang Araw Lang campaign.

This maybe peculiar and against the norm principle, but doing good others as Trevor dreamed and explain. As the movie Pay it forward and as Mr. Daniel Razon is campaigning (in Filipino)

“Ang Paggawa ng Mabuti ay Hindi Magbubunga ng Masama”
(Good deeds will bear no evil fruit)

One thought on “PAY IT FORWARD

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