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Pay It Forward Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 25

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Pushes and pushes and pushes the emotional throttle without respite.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times 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.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Susan Wloszczyna

    Either you will weep uncontrollably during the final 10 minutes or so of this bittersweet fable...or the urge to gag will be overwhelming.

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  • See all Pay It Forward reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

A bit syrupy, but sentimental teens may enjoy it.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language, and characters abuse alcohol and drugs, including heroin and marijuana. There are references to the most severe domestic abuse. There are some fights, one resulting in mortal injury. A character attempts suicide. Another shoots his gun, though no one is injured. A character dies tragically. There are sexual references and a discreet sexual situation. A character's burn scars may be upsetting. Pre-teens and teens may be especially concerned by the violence that occurs at a school, despite the metal-detectors kids walk through as they enter.

  • Families can talk about the pay it forward idea. Would it work? What favors would family members like to do? Why is "routine" so important to Eugene? Why do we see him ironing his shirt twice in the movie? Why do we see Eugene sitting at a student's desk when he talks to Trevor? Why does Trevor say that "it has to be hard?" Families should also talk about Trevor's comment that the most important thing is watching people, paying attention to things they may not even know they need. Some families will also want to dicuss whether there is a religious allusion in the death of one character.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Brief fight scenes, character mortally wounded, sad death.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Sexual references and situations.

  • language false3

    Language: Some strong language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters abuse alcohol and drugs.