Jerry Maguire Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your song in a new commercial starring you broadcast during the Superbowl in a game that you are winning and I will not sleep until that happens. Give me fifteen minutes and call me back!
Jerry Maguire box art

In 1996, it seemed that the only challenging and literate films were being produced by the independent film-makers. However, in the tail end of that year, "Jerry Maguire" disproved this observation. Cameron Crowe (director of "Singles" and "Say Anything", and writer of "Fast Times at Ridgemount High") has crafted another mainstream masterpiece, an intricately crafted portrayal of the interplay between love, idealism, and loyalty. It is full of delightful moments, warm performances, and an engaging and inspiring story that transcends the status quo of mediocrity of the usual Big Six releases.

Mr. Maguire... this is his fourth concussion. Shouldn't somebody get him to stop?
Hey, hey... it would take a tank to stop your dad. It would take all five Super Trooper VR Warriors to stop your dad. Right? Right?
Fuck you.

Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a high-power sports agent under the employ of SMI, an industry leader. Jerry is on the fast track, managing a stable of up-and-coming and established sports superstars. Contrary to the conventions of this genre, Jerry Maguire has already matured at the beginning of the film.

What had I become? Another shark in a suit?

Having seen the ugly side of the morally bereft world of wheeling-and-dealing in multi-million dollar sports and endorsement contracts, Jerry 'grows a conscience' and unable to sleep, he bangs out a memo (sorry a mission statement), entitled "The Things We Think and Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business". It espouses a kinder, gentler company, where each agent handles less clients, and concern about the client overrides the concern for money. He is applauded by his colleagues the next morning after a marathon late-night photocopying session, and is personally thanked at the airport by Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), an accounting underling, for his inspiring words. Of course, she also secretly carries a torch for him. After their brief conversation in the arrivals level, they part their ways. The next time they meet at the office, Jerry has just been fired by his ruthless MBA-type boss, Bob Sugar, because of the memo (sorry, mission statement), which flies in the face of what the company is about. Jerry has only been able to retain one client, a so-so wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

As Jerry leaves the office, he asks his colleagues to follow him to create a new company with a more humane approach to sports management. As his so-called friends, who threw him a bachelor party only a few hours prior, turn their backs on him, a single hand goes up. Dorothy Boyd, because of the inspirational mission statement, will follow him, throwing away her secure job, despite being a young widow with a sick child.

You keep one superstar and they'll all follow. There's no real loyalty in this business and the first person that told me that Jerry Maguire, was you!
I think I was trying to sleep with you at the time.
Well it worked!

At first, all seems well for the new start up. While Dorothy manages the administration, Jerry manages to woo an NFL first draft pick (Jerry O'Connell-- now with "Sliders" canceled, he's going to need more roles like this) to his side. But when it comes down to signing the contract, it seems that Bob Sugar has stolen the young athlete from under his nose. Jerry tries to find solace from his fiancee, Avery Bishop (Kelly Preston), another money-hungry sports agent, but she rejects him, calling him a 'loser', upon learning of his failure to close the deal. And so Jerry returns home, drunk and distraught. To complicate problems further, nobody really wants to sign any contracts with Rod, partially because of his mediocrity on the field, and his outrageous attitude. As Jerry Maguire struggles to survive with his idealism intact in an increasingly threatening world, a romantic relationship develops between Dorothy and Jerry.

When you get on the field, it's all about what you didn't get, who's to blame, who underthrew the pass, who's go the contracts you don't, who's not giving you love. That is not what inspires people. That is not what inspires people! Shut up, play the game... play it from the heart. And I will show you Quan!

Crowe presents an interesting thematic triumvirate in "Jerry Maguire": love, loyalty, and idealism, with each of the three principals representing these themes. Jerry, with his call for compassion in a business where greed takes prevalence, provides ideals for Dorothy to believe (it's not what you do for me, but it's what you give me to believe in). Dorothy, with her kind heart, gives Jerry love and support for his countercurrent beliefs. Rod, despite the enticements of Bob Sugar, shows Jerry that loyalty does still exist, someone can be as good as their word, and that there is still a place for idealism in the cut-throat competitive world in which they find themselves. Jerry's idealism, not surprisingly, rubs off on Rod, who learns the joy of doing something well, instead of following the philosophy espoused by his mantra, "Show me the money".

I'm not a guy who runs. I stick. Good at friendship, bad at intimacy.

However, Jerry must also overcome his inability to express intimacy. Dorothy and Jerry are very loyal to each other and share the same ideals, and Jerry believes that it is enough to sustain their relationship. However, he soon learns that it is not enough-- and he wrestles with his inability to distinguish between loyalty and love.

That is the first time I've ever seen him kiss a man just like a dad. Wasn't that just thrilling?!
Yes, it was.
He must have been really needing that.
Take it easy. Don't cry at the beginning of a date. Yeah, just cryat the end of a date, like me.

The chemistry between Cruise and Zegweller is perfect, capturing both the joy of discovery and awkwardness of their blossoming relationship. But Gooding steals the show with his over-the-top performance as Tidwell. Even though he already makes a high-end six figure salary, you cannot help but feel sympathy for him as he complains to Jerry over the phone about his house that is falling apart and his concerns of generating enough income to carry his family through after he gets too old to play football. The supporting characters are also strongly cast, and they do well with their limited screen time. Regina King is memorable as Tidwell's wife and number one fan, and so is Jonathan Lipnicki as Dorothy's cute-as-a-button-but-not-to-the-degree-that-it-becomes-nauseating son.

We live in a cynical world and we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You complete me.
Shut up... you had me at 'hello'.

If you missed "Jerry Maguire" in the theaters last Christmas, you can now catch it on video. Not only has Crowe created a 'chick' movie that appealed to men (through the use of sports as subject matter and the cameos by sport personalities), but he has also created the kind of film that makes you want to call someone up to talk about what you've just seen (or in this case, write a review).

Images courtesy of Columbia TriStar Pictures. All rights reserved.

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