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A Short Critique of Pay It Forward, a Movie by Mimi Leder

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The film Pay it Forward is a film about (obviously) paying it forward, which is a term to describe helping someone else in need rather than the person who helped you back. In the film, Trevor McKinney, a young boy who lives in Las Vegas, decides to put a program based around the concept in action in an attempt to make the world better.

Trevor begins 7th grade at a middle school in Las Vegas. It’s quickly established as a rough school, with kids smuggling knives and other things through metal detectors and bullies preying on the weak, such as Trevor’s friend. Eugene Simonet, Trevor’s social studies teacher, decides to combat the school’s bad reputation and assigns the kids a project in which they have to change the world. Trevor is the only one who takes this really seriously, and forms an idea for a concept he calls “Pay it Forward.”

Trevor starts with a homeless man he knows, his teacher, and his mother. Trevor believes he has failed when Jerry is addicted to drugs again but later Jerry saves a woman from suicide. Trevor pays it forward to his mother and teacher by getting them together. However, the relationship is rocky and causes Trevor and his mother to fight. Meanwhile, a reporter researches Pay it Forward after he is given a free car. He traces it through a prisoner, a homeless woman (who turns out to be Trevor’s grandmother) and finally back to Trevor. However, right after Trevor is identified as the originator of Pay it Forward, he is accidentally stabbed by a bully while he is protecting his friend. Trevor dies at the hospital, and later at his house a candlelight vigil is held in his memory.

Pay It Forward was a good movie, and it’s my favorite movie that we’ve watched in class. All of them were good but this one was the best. Only this film and the blind side really felt like they could happen in everyday life. Of course the other ones did but the events were a little too elongated. The acting was good, the plot was well-written and it was funny at certain times and sad at certain times as well. The scene where Trevor is stabbed really hits home and made me feel very sad, while scenes like the one where Sidney is arrested are funny, lighthearted, and certainly uplifting.

All in all, Pay it Forward was a really good movie that teaches you a lesson: you shouldn’t always expect something in return when you help someone out. Trevor doesn’t and his concept becomes a reality, spreading across America and who knows where else in the future. I’m almost inspired to try something like this myself but I wouldn’t know where to start.

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A Short Critique of Pay It Forward, a Movie by Mimi Leder. (2018, November 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 15, 2021, from
“A Short Critique of Pay It Forward, a Movie by Mimi Leder.” GradesFixer, 15 Nov. 2018,
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