Those of you with stomachs a lot stronger than mine may enjoy Pay It Forward
, which wants to turn our sorry lives into a pyramid scheme of peace, love and understanding. Kevin Spacey plays a Las Vegas social studies teacher who challenges his students to make a difference in the world. Helen Hunt is a strip-club waitress/casino change girl who likes to hit the bottle--peroxide for her hair, liquor for the rest of her surprisingly buff body. And Haley Joel Osment is the kid (Spacey's student, Hunt's son) who tries to bring both these two and everybody else together by proposing that each of us help three people who will in turn help three other people who--well, you know the drill. I was into Pay It Forward
the first hour or so, but it simply wouldn't let up, piling on the pain and the release from pain until I felt like I was watching an episode of "Touched in the Head by an Angel." Less a movie than a bumper sticker, it promotes random acts of kindness, but its own acts of kindness--e.g., giving Spacey a big scene where he gets to expose the burn scars that cover much of his body--seem calculated for Oscar payback next spring.