Pay it Forward

2 out of 10


"I see kind people"

Congratulations to the Yankies! After two and a quarter centuries, their civilization has just come up with a great leap forward for mankind - their invention of "Altruism" - in short, wouldn`t it be nice for the world if people occasionally did things without being paid for it? And they`re so delighted with their discovery, that they`ve made a film to tell the world about it make some money off it!

To carry this message, as always, they have the true American boy to bring this insulting and condescending crap to our door. Reprising almost exactly his same role as the vulnerable, but gutsy kid in the midst of misery, Haley Joel Osment plays the boy, Trevor McKinney, who as part of a schol project, comes up with the idea that if someone does something kind for you, then you must do something kind for someone else. You almost expect him to gaze across the ghetto and declare "I see kind people", while the film shows us none. Indeed, maybe that`s how the film got to be made, with Haley staring across an empty studio at an unseen horizon and declaring "I see good profits", whilst the film showed the production executives, quite rightly, none.

If you can wade through this 1 hour and 55 minutes of schmultz (it seems more like 55 hours and 1 minute) to the end you`ll find it`s just as formulaic as you feared. Firstly, the kid who might as well spend the first scene digging his own grave and writing his own will he`s so obviously going to snuff it by the last reel. Secondly, there`s his teacher, Eugene Simonet, who is too timid to cope with his mild disfigurement, just enough to notice, but not enough to put off the ticket-buying public, played by Kevin Spacey, who instinctively throws his hand up in acceptance at any and every American lifestyle drama in the hope of packing out his mantlepiece with even more golden statuettes. And finally, there`s Helen Hunt, living proof that you really CAN built an Oscar-winning career out of just looking gobsmacked and shocked, who plays his a mother Arlene, a Las Vegas stripper who hasn`t the guts to get rid of her abusive boyfriend. Indeed, with this sort of prejudice that all exotic dancers as cheap, stupid and figures of abuse, one wonders why the writers don`t go the whole way and have plantations with blacks picking the cotton in the background!

In the film, his ideas become a national phenomenon, which I have to accept, is quite feasible despite what others say. At St Andrews University, my own idea of a financing local municipalities with a Poll Tax in 1980, quickly spiralled up and became official policy of the Thatcher Government generated a demonstration and subsequent riot of over 12,000 people in Trafalgar Square in central London, well beyond anything I could have ever imagined. But even that took 5 years for the unstoppable ball to roll with that level of momentum. Instead, this film remains an overly sickly sweet tale, livened only by the welcome appearance and slapstick antics of Jay Mohr, playing the journalist sent to investigate it, but for so little time on screen.

In conclusion, if the producers really want to "pay it forward" and do something great for the film, shred it!

Haley Joel Osment, staring at audience: "I see sleepy people"

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett