In honor of our 20th birthday, we'll be celebrating movies and their impact on individual people. If there is a movie that has changed or inspired you, let us know by emailing moviefone-editorial@teamaol.com.

There are movies that affect us in ways that we don't notice. They may give us a catchphrase or a clever quip to use on our significant other when he or she is being obnoxious. They may have even given us the perfect pick-up line that got us with our significant other in the first place. Most of the time, when we use these lines or make a reference, we don't even realize we're doing it. Then there are times when a movie can affect us so profoundly that we are moved to actions because of it, rather than despite of it. For me, that movie was 'Pay It Forward.'

I have a disorder called Goldenhar Syndrome, and because of this my face is a little crooked - nothing terrible, but very obvious. And dealing with it has inspired me to study to be a teacher. I realize that because of my disabilities and the fact that I have succeeded in life despite or possibly even because of them that I have something to teach kids that goes beyond textbooks. If I can do it, so can they.

I have, however, suffered in some ways due to my disorder. I grew up thinking my face disgusted others, which led to a serious lack of confidence in myself. And I'm very shy when it comes to relationships. It was because of this that I found it easy to relate to Mr. Simonet (played by Kevin Spacey) in 'Pay It Forward.'



When becoming romantically involved, people can be suspicious or easily skittish at first. So imagine what it's like for a person with a facial deformity. It's nearly impossible not to wonder what someone is thinking when they accept a date or when they don't. It constantly wears on you. It makes you cold. It makes you hard. Sometimes you even resist the people who truly do care for you.

When I first saw 'Pay It Forward,' I was seeing a woman I really cared about, but I had yet to tell her I loved her. I was afraid. But 'Pay It Forward' made me realize that I was hurting myself as much as I was her. At the end of the movie, I went out on my balcony and cried my eyes out. The next day, I told my girlfriend I loved her. We had a great relationship and I still love her, though we are no longer together. But if I hadn't told her, I would have lost her and we might never have become as close friends as we are today. Since then, I've made a point of telling those I care for that I love them, and 'paying it forward.'

As the movie says, "It's supposed to be hard." That is what makes these individual actions such miracles. There is potential for greatness in people if they just give themselves a chance. With just three favors for three people, we could change the world. We could change ourselves.


Submitted by: Erin Kendell Smith



More On 'Pay It Forward':
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, James Caviezel
Directed by: Mimi Leder
You Might Enjoy It If You Like: 'Seven Pounds,' 'The Man Without a Face'
Where You Can Get It: Buy It Here | Rent It Here

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CATEGORIES Features