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pyramid scheme of the golden rule
on January 22, 2004
Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) is a struggling pre-teen. His mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt) is a recovering alcoholic, his father Ricki (Jon Bon Jovi) is an absent, abusive deadbeat and they live in a run-down house with nothing but sadness around them. Trevor is inspired by his teacher, Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey), who has a struggle not so easy to hide from others. He has burn scars on his face that often scare others away and this has made him so self conscious, his only friends are his students and he avoids contact (romantic or otherwise) with adults for fear of rejection.
Eugene proposes taking the Golden Rule ("do unto others....") to action - so that every time someone does something for you, you do something for someone else you don't even know. Trevor decides to push the first domino by doing good deeds for those he doesn't know and before you know it, it has become a nation-wide trend to "pay it forward."
Behind the scenes, Trevor becomes a little matchmaker. He knows his mother needs a caring man to take care of her and that Eugene needs a caring woman to take care of him. He sees potential in them for romance, while keeping his teacher as his mentor instead of leaving him behind as he advances to the next grade level.
There is a lot of schmaltz in this film, everyone is either a demon or a philosopher. Even the crack addict on the street can quote Shakespeare and emote warm fuzzies to the point you feel your eyes roll up - but the acting of Spacey, Hunt & Osment make this into a bittersweet, inspirational tale.
Despite the warm fuzzies, there is language, violence and sex - so this one is not for the kids.