Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pay it Forward

By chance I watched a very touching movie called Pay it Forward. The movie is based on a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Although there were some changes made to accommodate casting and time constraints the film holds true to the books theme and purpose. The film is about a 7th grade boy who's class assignment ends up changing the lives of several people, including his own.

The assignment was to "Think of an idea for world change, and put it into action." Trevor McKinney, the lead character in the book and the movie, comes up with a simple plan of helping someone in a way that is great; a way that they "can't help themselves." The recipients of this help are told to "Pay it Forward" by helping 3 other people. The book, and to a lesser extent the movie, chronicle how this movement struggled to get started, but eventually affected thousands of people.

Movie critics did not particularly like the movie. From Roger Ebert,
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: (Kevin) Spacey as a vulnerable and wounded man; (Helen) Hunt as a woman no less wounded in her own way, and (Haley Joel) 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.
and Rotten Tomatoes
Pay It Forward has strong performances from Spacey, Hunt, and Osment, but the movie itself is too emotionally manipulative and the ending is bad.
Despite these unkind reviews the premise of the story is one that we would all like to believe in. That there are people out there who would selflessly help another person. Not for praise or money or fame, but because they needed help. The concept has become so well known that there is now an official foundation, a Pay it Forward Day and other groups like Random Acts of Kindness, which carry a similar message of creating a kinder world.

Would it really be that bad if we all could be just a little kinder to each other? Have you been the recipient of a surprisingly kind act? Have you done something for someone else? Share your story in the comments section.