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Pay It Forward (2000), (PG-13)
CAP Score: 41
CAP Influence Density: 1.48
From the runaway best-seller.
"I will violate my own
policy statement and urgently
recommend this film..."
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SUMMARY / COMMENTARY:
PAY IT FORWARD (PG-13) -- another "R-13" and more schoolyard murder.
As if the benevolence and cuteness are to excuse evil and dark sinister programming. The end of the movie is the beginning of this analysis. As I say in the sidebar notes above, if you don't want the story or plot spoiled, don't read our analyses. At least skip the Summary/Commentary and go straight to the heart of the CAP analysis model, the Findings/Scoring section below.
As Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) comes to the rescue of a fellow classmate who is being bullied, one of the two bullies pulls a knife and stabs Trevor when they can't overpower him. And the penetration of the knife into the body of the 11 year old boy is as plain as any hard R show presents. And, of course, there are absolutely no consequences to the assailants. Not even a mention of consequences for the assailants was noted. The only consequence shown of the schoolyard murder is the blood, the mother's pain and the boy's death. And the 11 year old assailants show as much steely disregard as a seasoned murderer -- just like in the movies. Just like the (then) teen idol Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries (1995), the movie believed to have had influence on the decision of a 14 year old to shoot eight of his classmates early Monday morning, December 1, 1997 in Paducah, KY. All this is for the viewing pleasure of your 13 year old (and younger) kids [Luke 17:2].
Much of this movie is more dark theft of childhood from children, and children will probably love it [Matt. 18:10]. Now to the story line...
Think of some way to change the world -- and put it into action. That is the assignment for the 7th grade class of Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) and that is precisely what Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) does. Trevor develops a method of paying good deeds forward -- do a good deed for three people and they each do a good deed for three other people and so on. Sort of a fission principle. And some of them are uncontrolled fission and some target nuclei fail to capture the fission neutron.
The story opens four months into the future as police battle with a hostage situation. The bad guy tries to escape by ramming through the police perimeter barricade in an SUV and demolishes a news reporter's car. A nearby well-to-do lawyer, having heard of the pay-it-forward practice, made good one of his obligatory good deeds by giving the reporter his new Jaguar.
While most of Trevor's efforts to perform good deeds seem to be falling on selfishness, at least one of the attempts is fruitful. Trevor offers a homeless drug addict named Jerry (Jim Caviezel) a meal in their home and ends up living in their garage. Trevor's mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt), a recovering alcoholic (which was of course someone else's fault, namely her absent husband), is not at all happy with this homeless dude taking up residence in her garage until he repairs her broken pickup truck as one of his pay-it-forward good deeds. I wonder if Arlene waving a shotgun at Jerry would negate the "good" in the good deed by Jerry? Alas, as good and kind a man Jerry is, he falls back into his habit ... and so does Arlene a time or two.
Another good deed Trevor tries is to get Mr. Simonet, his school teacher romantically involved with mom. Mr. Simonet is not supportive of the Dan Cupid antics of Trevor. Arlene is reserved about it but open to the idea. While Arlene is working two jobs, being punctual as Mr. Simonet demands is not easy. Trevor helps his mother get ready during one of the frenzied preparations for a date with Mr. Simonet. Trevor even applies his mother's underarm deodorant. What!? Yes, Trevor lifts his mothers arms and swirls the deodorant in her armpits. Not that such a distasteful act is sinful, she had to be exposed for him to do it. And that she was. She had stripped to her underwear in front of Trevor. What a standard to display for an 11 year old son! What made stripping to underwear and parading it before children acceptable? Was it the parent/child pairs in underwear in TV commercials? Was it the plethora of other movies which show actors and actresses wearing only underwear? Each of these exposures is a pin buried in the couch, but that will make sense only if you read "Little Straight Pins."
Another "good deed" was performed when the lawyer's daughter was having an asthma attack in the emergency department of a hospital. Due to triage (treating the worst first), the staff was "ignoring" the girl until a stabbing victim forced the staff to give her oxygen. All this might be well and good, but this "good deed" was with intimidation by gunfire from the stabbing victim. Note that the good deed this lawyer did in giving the news reporter his Jaguar was fulfilling one of his obligatory three good deeds because of the "good deed" of the stabbing victim who also knew of the pay-it-forward principle -- all because of Trevor's innovation four months earlier and I suppose as a legacy to Trevor.
Pay It Forward is another picture painted with pretty paints but with a dirty brush. Additional examples of ignominy include jesting about killing a wife [Eph. 5:4], kissing/petting on school property, sexual touching as a tease [Mark 14:38], and drug involvement including drug induced stupor [2 Cor. 7:1]. Other examples include running away to fix problems [Is. 30:1], cohabitation before a child, positioning for suicide, and threats by an abusive father [Eph. 6:4]. A graphic and detailed story of a father setting his son on fire, lying to mom [Prov. 14:5], and arrogant, hateful talk by a child to his mother [Deut. 5:16] make this film another thief of childhood. A complete listing of the "PG" in "PG-13" is provided in the Findings/Scoring section below.
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
FINDINGS / SCORING:
NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
Offense to God (O)(2):