EVERYBODY LOVED HIM… EVERYBODY DISAPPEARED.
At the time of the release, Jerry Maguire received mostly positive reviews. Now that I’ve revisited the film several years later I have to say I still like it a lot. This is after all perhaps the best example of why we love Tom Cruise in spite of all the craziness. The Scientology nonsense, his relationships, jumping on the couch on Oprah, all that has absolutely nothing to do with his job as an actor. This film did its best to exploit the Tom Cruise we still pay money to see in theaters.
Jerry Maguire (Cruise) is a sports agent who has it all – money, a future and a hot girlfriend (Kelly Preston). Everything is not peachy, however. Lately Jerry has begun to question his life; he’s part of a very cynical business that’s all about money, one that cares very little about the people it represents. And the sports stars are no better; Jerry represents selfish football players who couldn’t care less about the thousands of people who attend their games. It all changes on the night when Jerry suffers a breakdown of sorts and decides to write a mission statement where he describes in detail what’s wrong with the business and how those problems could be fixed. The next morning, when daylight has broken, the manifesto is written and sent to everyone at the firm, Jerry realizes that he may have been much too emotional and angstridden when he was writing.
He is initially applauded at the office for what he wrote but it doesn’t take long for the senior partners to fire him. When Jerry packs his belongings and leaves the firm, the only one who’s willing to go with him is Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger), an accountant who read the manifesto and loved it. As Jerry fights to keep the two clients he manages to bring with him (including Arizona Cardinals receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), he also gets to know Dorothy and her five-year-old son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki) and starts thinking about the possibilities of love.
Ultimate vehicle for Cruise
Director Cameron Crowe made this movie after Singles (1992), his first with a major Hollywood star in the lead, and the one that became his wide breakthrough. Some of his fans would say that they prefer Crowe’s earlier work, but I have to say that I stand by this movie as one of his finest. How can you resist a movie that invented several now-famous lines, including “Show me the money!”? How can you resist a movie where Cruise has found the ultimate vehicle for his $20 million smile, look-at-me-I’m-a-star gestures and hard-pressed tears; I’m not kidding, I truly appreciate his efforts to portray one of these larger-than-life, sleazy characters who finds out that he has a heart.
Zellweger and Gooding, Jr. also got their breakthroughs as the woman who takes a chance for Jerry, falls in love with him but worries about what their future together might look like, and the guy few reporters are interested in talking to, who desperately needs Jerry to make him a star. Young Lipnicki as Dorothy’s child is absolutely adorable in his scenes with Cruise, but not in a sugary Hollywood way; he’s more like (lo and behold) a real kid.
Crowe keeps it real throughout the film, even though the ending makes sure everyone is happy and content. Bruce Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” is used in several sequences as a way of building emotions… which it does very well.
One of the things Jerry Maguire does to you is preach the possibility of changing your life. That’s very Hollywood but true nevertheless. Know that things may not end up as well as in a movie, but have the courage to create your own mission statement.
Jerry Maguire 1996-U.S. 138 min. Color. Produced by James L. Brooks, Laurence Mark, Richard Sakai, Cameron Crowe. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe. Cast: Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Rod Tidwell), Renée Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd), Kelly Preston, Jerry O’Connell, Jay Mohr… Bonnie Hunt, Regina King, Glenn Frey, Eric Stoltz, Lucy Liu. Cameo: Beau Bridges.
Trivia: The film was allegedly written as a vehicle for Tom Hanks. Several sports stars have cameos. One version of the film features a staged shoe commercial near the end.
Oscar: Best Supporting Actor (Gooding, Jr.). Golden Globe: Best Actor (Cruise).
Quote: “Shut up, just shut up. You had me at ‘hello’.” (Zellweger to Cruise after his emotional attempt to win her back)
Last word: “Sports – first of all I didn’t know that much about the world of sports, and I just wanted to learn and do some research on it. But second of all, in the entertainment business, it seems they learned how to close the loopholes a long time ago. It seems very set in its cynical ways. Whereas in sports, it’s wild! The prices are still going crazy, the role of the agent is not like the role of the agent in Hollywood – the role of the agent is like father, uncle, brother, publicist, agent, manager. They all don’t have individual publicists, for example. So these guys become father figures in a lot of ways to these young athletes, who believe that money will be around forever. But the truth is, if they get injured the money just disappears.” (Crowe, Industry Central)