We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Oh the humanity! Eugene (Kevin Spacey) is a Las Vegas social studies teacher, scarred both physically and emotionally. Arlene (Helen Hunt) is an alcoholic cocktail waitress trying to stay sober and protect her 11-year-old son, Trevor (Haley Joel Osment), from his abusive dad (Jon Bon Jovi!) and the stray pedophile. And Trevor—well, he’s simply a middle-school messiah, with a universal plan to redeem humanity by “paying forward” rather than back any stranger’s kindness. This is a dreadful movie, but its full awfulness can’t be explained without revealing the ending. Let’s just say that it isn’t merely a romantic dramedy about solitary Eugene—so lonely that he’s introduced ironing!—and desperate Arlene—who hides bottles of vodka in overhead light fixtures—and how they’re brought together by angelic Trevor. A D.C. United and pro-wrestling fan with the same precocious seriousness Osment demonstrated in The Sixth Sense, Trevor transforms everyone his plan touches, from a heroin addict to a cartoonish black gangsta to a reporter played by a miscast Jay Mohr. Suitably, the final scene of this utterly bogus parable of suburban redemption ends with an image of secular sainthood borrowed from something that most Americans have watched on TV. —Mark Jenkins