In 1983, Tom Cruise became a star in the brash comedy "Risky Business."
In the ensuing years, he has made films that ranged from the sublime
("Rainman") to the...well, to "Days Of Thunder." In the exuberant "Jerry
Maguire," Cruise's outstanding performance is a powerful reminder that
beneath that dazzling smile lies one hell of an actor.
Jerry Maguire is an extremely powerful sports agent, a shark who
manipulates his superstar clients with a combination of ass-kissing and
motivational seminar babble, while securing them obscene amounts of money
from team-owners and endorsement packages. One night, in a crisis of
conscience, he pounds out an inspirational "mission statement",
encouraging his company to shift their attitude and focus on fewer
clients (which, of course, means less money.) Shortly after distributing
his manifesto, he recognizes that he has committed corporate suicide, but
the damage is done. Within days, he is fired, and finds himself starting
over, with one client (Gooding), one employee (Zellweger), and a strong
sense of desperation.
Jerry Maguire isn't a simple story of redemption. Director Cameron Crowe
("Say Anything", "Singles") is far more clever. Maguire doesn't
necessarily want to stop being a shark. He still thrives on the
adrenaline-charged lifestyle, on being a power player. What he wants is a
home base, a safe place where he can connect with others on a more human
level. The joy of the film comes from the unexpected twists in his
personal journey, and the extremely rich supporting cast.
Cuba Gooding Jr. Is electric as Rod Tidwell, a wide receiver for the
Arizona Cardinals. He yearns to be a spoiled superstar; for the sheer
thrill of it, to be sure, but also to build a secure future for his
loving family. Gooding's outbursts, both of temperament and exhilaration,
provide some of the film's most satisfying moments.
Playing Maguire's assistant, Renee Zellweger gives a subtle and rich
performance. As an idealistic single mother, she initially seems
painfully naïve, but as her relationship with Maguire builds, the
strength and inherent decency beneath her wide-eyes emerges. The love
story between her, Maguire and her young son (six year old charmer
Jonathan Lipnicki, with a beatific smile that lights up the theater) is
compelling and absolutely credible, a rarity in contemporary films.
After its frenetic start, Jerry Maguire leads viewers on a funny and
moving tale of love and growth. The combination of Crowe's exceptional
script and the superior cast, highlighted by Cruise's flawless
performance, results in one of the years most substantial movies.
Copyright © 1997 Edward Johnson-Ott