Jerry Maguire (1996) / Comedy-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for language and sexuality
Running Time: 139 min.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellwegger, Jay Mohr, Kelly Preston
Director: Cameron Crowe
Screenplay: Cameron Crowe

Review published May 16, 2002

Cameron Crowe made a memorable splash debut as a writer with Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a typical teenage sex flick with a big difference:  it had heart.  More of the same can be said for Crowe's debut as a director with the excellent Say Anything, showing once again he had a knack for taking what would ostensibly be a "just another..." film and taking it to depths no one had bothered exploring before.  Jerry Maguire is another winner for Crowe in all areas, displaying how he is a master of three-dimensional characters, many of them wildly different from each other, and yet is able to have them interact with each other in authentic and knowing ways. 

Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible, The Firm) stars in the title role as Jerry Maguire, a hot-shot sports agent, one of the best in his field for getting his clients outstanding contracts and endorsement deals.  He begins to see the down side of such killer deals, especially when he detects athletes are just in it for the money and not for the heart.  He also thinks sports agents no better in this regard.   During a moment of self-reflection he decides to write a "mission statement" for his company and fellow employees that they should scale back the amount of employees and business they do and care more. 

Although Jerry later regrets sending it, the paper strikes a chord among his fellow agents who applaud him, yet they are unwilling to stick by his side when the management sacks him for insubordination, except for Dorothy Boyd (Zellweger, Reality Bites) in accounting, who has a thing for Jerry.  The two try to recoup their clients but only one is willing to take a chance on the maverick Jerry Maguire over his former agency, Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr., A Few Good Men), a flashy and arrogant but small wide receiver, whose mouth is about as large as his ego.  Broke as a joke and with everything on the line, this is Jerry's only chance at redemption, and also finds himself in a quandary in his new relationship with Dorothy, a woman that he cares for but is uncertain whether he loves.

Jerry Maguire is a hit on almost every level, from the production, to the acting, to the directing, to the script and casting.  Initially the story of a pro sports scout might not lend itself to intriguing fare, but it all works, and all credit should go to Cameron's vision and the quality cast around him, especially in Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. for going all out in their respective performances, which rank among their best work to date.  If there is anything I didn't like about the film, it's Cameron's lack of realism when dealing with the roles of children, especially Jonathan Lipnicki's (Stuart Little, The Little Vampire) character as the boy that Maguire forms a bond with, as he's too unrealistic in demeanor and too strange looking to buy as a real kid, and for that matter the same goes for Tyson Tidwell's (Suarez, The Ladykillers) demeanor (son of Rod) as well.  Renee Zellweger is perfect, on the other hand, as the sweet but naive accountant that sees potential in the man that others regard as a shark.

Jerry Maguire is a terrific addition to any sports fans library, but also those who like a great romantic comedy as well.  There's a lot of heart poured in from the talented cast to make this a cut above most in the genre, and there is quite a bit of good romantic dialogue and situations to make this deeper than the superficial relationship we usually get.  There's literally something for everyone in this Academy Award nominated comedy, and it comes very highly recommended.

Qwipster's rating:

2002 Vince Leo