Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward2000

Stars: Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes

Pay It Forward is a multi-level marketing scheme of the heart. Beginning as a seventh-grade class assignment to put into action an idea that could change the world, young Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) comes up with a plan to do good deeds for … more »

Eugene Simonet:
Apparently, none of you have ever seen a new teacher before. [A beat.] I'm Mr. Simonet. Welcome to the seventh grade. Middle school. That hellish, shaky bridge you all must cross before you become members of that undyingly enviable high school elite. Now, some of you might think you can't get across this bridge fast enough. That you'd rather hold your breath, close your eyes, and not think about anything until it's all over. Well, I'm here to tell you that that is not an option in this class.

[A student arrives late to class, and the students laugh.]

Eugene Simonet:
Lateness. Tardiness. To be late for your first class on your first day of school. What does that indicate?

Late student:
I'm having a bad hair day.

[The students laugh.]

Eugene Simonet:
Perhaps what it indicates is a lack of respect. You see, I'm going to be here everyday for you, and so I expect you to be here for me. On time. No excuses. [to a student taking something out] Put that down.

Another student:
[whispering] Wait.

[A beat.]

Eugene Simonet:
Now. [A beat.] This class is social studies. That is you and the world. Yes, there is a world out there and even if you decide you don't want to meet it, it's still going to hit you right in the face. [A beat.] Believe me. So, best you start thinking about the world now and what it means to you. [A beat.] What does the world mean to you? [A beat.] Come on! A little class participation here. Is it just this class you wanna get out of? Your house? Your street? Any further any one of you wanna go than that? [A girl raises her hand.] Yes?

Girl:
The mall. That's only like two miles away from me.

[The class laughs.]

Eugene Simonet:
Well, let me ask you another question. How often do you think about things that happen outside of this town? You watch the news? Yes? No? All right, so, we're not global thinkers yet, but why aren't we? [He points to Trevor McKinney.]

Trevor McKinney:
'Cause we're 11.

Eugene Simonet:
Good point. What's your name?

Trevor McKinney:
Trevor.

Eugene Simonet:
[to the class] Maybe Trevor's absolutely right. Why should we think about the world? I mean, after all, what does the world expect of us? [He looks at Trevor for an answer.]

Trevor McKinney:
Expect?

Eugene Simonet:
Mm-hm. Of you. What does the world expect of you? [A beat.]

Trevor McKinney:
Nothing. [A beat.]

Eugene Simonet:
Nothing. [to the class] My God, boys and girls, he's absolutely right. Nothing. I mean, here you are. You can't drive. You can't vote. You can't even go to the bathroom without a pass from me. You're stuck. Right here in the seventh grade. [A beat.] But not forever because one day, you'll be free. [The class cheers.] All right, but what if on that day you're free, you haven't prepared, you're not ready, and then, you look around you, and you don't like what the world is? What if the world is just a big disappointment?

Boy:
We're screwed.

[The class laughs.]

Eugene Simonet:
Unless . . . unless you take the things that you don't like about this world, and you flip them upside down right on their ass. Don't tell you parents I used that word. [The class laughs.] And you can start that today. [He pulls up the screen and reveals the assignment written on the blackboard behind it, which says, "Think of an idea to change our world - and put it into ACTION".] This is your assignment. Extra credit. It goes on all year long. [The students grumble.]

Student:
Oh, man....

Eugene Simonet:
Now, wait a minute. What, what, what's wrong with this? What's the matter? [The girl from earlier raises her hand, and Eugene points to her.] Yes?

Girl:
It's like so . . .

Eugene Simonet:
So what? There must be a word to finish that sentence. Someone help her.

Another girl:
"Weird".

Eugene Simonet:
"Weird".

Another student:
"Crazy".

Eugene Simonet:
"Crazy".

Different girl:
"Hard".

Another boy:
"Bummer".

Eugene Simonet:
"Bummer". "Hard". How about "possible"? [A beat.] It's possible. [A beat.] The realm of possibility exists where? In each of you? [A beat. He points to his head.] Here. [A beat.] So, you can do it. [A beat.] You can surprise us. It's up to you. Or, you can just sit back and let it atrophy. [A student looks at Eugene uncertainly, and Eugene sees this.] Atrophy. If there is a word you hear that you don't understand, there's a dictionary at the front of the room. Look it up. [He starts passing out another pile of dictionaries to the class.] And there are these dictionaries, which you will carry with you at all times because in this class, we're going to learn to love words and their meanings. Any questions?

Trevor McKinney:
Yeah. So, you'll like you'll flunk us if we don't change the world? [A beat.]

Eugene Simonet:
Well, no, I wouldn't do that. [A beat.] But you might just squeak by with a C. [A beat.]

Trevor McKinney:
What'd you ever do to change the world?

Class:
Whoa! [A beat.]

Eugene Simonet:
Well, Trevor, I get a good night's sleep. I eat a hearty breakfast. I show up. [He looks to the late student.] On time. And then I pass the buck to you.

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