Pay It Forward: Book & Movie Comparison


As I stated in my review of Pay It Forward, I watched the movie first. It had been long enough that I didn’t remember very many details. I rewatched it for this comparison. I will not include all of the differences, but there were just so many. I am not sure if I will do more of these in the future. These are mostly differences, if not all.



The reporter’s (Chris Chandler) car stops working a different way.

  • It was smashed into by a guy kidnapping a women and not broke down on a busy highway.
  • Trevor’s mother (Arlene McKinney) is a dancer at the club she works at, not just a bar tender/server.
  • Arlene was struggling to stop drinking and argued with Trevor, while in the book she was very strong and got along very well with her son.

Reuben St. Clair was totally replaced with this Eugene Simonet person

  • Reuben was black, was missing an eye, and had more visible facial deformities. He was also never engaged or was in the Vietnam War. He got his injuries by  domestic abuse.
  • Trevor did not list anything in the paper. He found Jerry in a large group of homeless people outside of the city. He asked his mom about the shower after Jerry spent the night.
  • The truck was in the garage not in the drive way.
jerry Fixing

Jerry doing the exact opposite.

  • Jerry tried to fix the truck up instead of taking it apart for Arlene to sell.
  • Jerry’s new job is at a motel and not an auto parts store.
  • Arlene had very little trouble sleeping.
  • Chris went to the guy who gave him the car and asked questions — this is how he found out about Pay It Forward, instead of his friend telling him about it.
  • Sydney helped the car dude by letting his asthmatic daughter be seen in the ER first, even though he had a stab wound.
  • Sydney was helped by the person who replaced Mrs. Greenburg. He was breaking into a store and the lady help him escape the cops.
Running Away

After a fight with his mom Trevor tries to run away.

  • While trying to catch a bus out of town, Trevor is almost attacked by a pervert, but Arlene and Eugene find him in time.
  • It is never explained why Ricky (Trevor’s dad) left.
  • Jerry just happened to to see the lady he helps as she is ready to jump instead of waiting and watching for someone.

Trevor pulling off a wrestling move.

  • Trevor likes wrestling instead of football.
  • Arlene was abused by Ricky.
  • Ricky was not seeing anyone else.
  • Arlene helped her mother has a part of her Paying It Forward.

His last try.

  • Trevor breaks up a fight between his friend and some school bullies.
Candles and Lights

Candles and Lights

  • People gathered on their own to do the candles. They put flowers in Arlene’s yard. Also, in the pictures more of the lights are from car head lights, not candles.

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