Genre: Romantic Drama and Comedy Running Time: 2 hrs. 19 min.
Release Date: December 13th, 1996 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Cameron Crowe Actors: Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kelly Preston, Jerry O’Connell, Jay Mohr, Bonnie Hunt, Regina King, Jonathan Lipnicki, Todd Louiso
‘m the one behind the scenes.” Sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), who works at Sports Management International, leads an intense, fast-paced life, fielding nonstop calls and traveling across the country to promote his 72 clients. But in recent years, he’s noticed the heavy toll his career has taken on his mind; he’s just another shark in a suit, pursuing money while potentially destroying the lives of the athletes he serves. After a semi-breakdown at 35 years old, during which he reflects on the person he’s become and how much he despises that man, Jerry writes up a mission-statement manuscript that reveals a business strategy quite at odds with his company – and one that could destroy his career. “Everybody loves you.”
Meanwhile, living a very different life is Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), who works in the accounts department at SMI. Her job is devoid of the glamor, but her young son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki) is a handful and a delight, taking up the majority of her time and concern. Nevertheless, she notices Jerry, who regales another colleague with the story of his romantic yet comedic engagement to the wild Avery Bishop (Kelly Preston).
Jerry’s life, however, is about to take a significant turn, as his manuscript stunt results in a spontaneous firing. All of a sudden, he’s without a job (and his status at a company he helped build) and he’s only able to retain a single client – the needy, insecure, boisterous, and madcap footballer Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). In a moment of irrational solidarity, as Jerry leaves the building in an embarrassing blow-up, Dorothy volunteers to go with him, though her unplanned decision immediately inspires questions about medical benefits and monetary compensation. “You’re a single mother. You have given up the right to be frivolous,” insists Dorothy’s sister Laurel (Bonnie Hunt).
Aided by writer/director Cameron Crowe’s knack for an ever-present, complementary soundtrack of popular tunes, “Jerry Maguire” is an expert blend of familial drama, career angst, romantic pining, and believable comedy. It’s also once again a very human story (the endearing qualities of “Say Anything…” are evident), examining an everyman in an obscure job that isn’t larger-than-life so much as it’s simply average once its limitations are exposed. No one is immune to failure and loss. “I don’t like to give up.”
The dialogue is also superb, bringing these relatable characters and their grounded situations an extraordinary sense of authenticity and hilarity – even when they’re caught in awkward moments that could only ever happen in the movies. The further along the film gets, the more it becomes about two people falling in love, encountering predicaments, and struggling to regain their ideal union. And this is all supplemented by a mixture of poignant and eccentric supporting roles (Gooding and Hunt turn in award-worthy performances) that impart extra honesty to the power of Crowe’s framing, which lingers on expressions both painful and heartrending. Despite the football montages and the intermittent focus on cutthroat business rivals, the heart of the plot is on relationships that undergo trying scrutiny and difficult realizations – both a striking friendship and a compelling romance – culminating in a joyous, uplifting, inspirational picture of perseverance and dedication and love, complete with some sensational quotes and tearjerking reunions.
– Mike Massie