"I'm sorry little boy. I can't this sign this kind of card," says
the superrich athlete. He makes the big money through product
endorsements, not athletic feats, and he can not jeopardize his income
stream by signing anything other than what he has been paid to sign.
Certainly not for some kid, no matter how much the kid idolizes him.
Athletics is big business -- entertainment business. That the
athlete is obligated to flex his muscles once a week is secondary. The
big bucks comes from the advertisers and for them, you need a top notch
agent. Enter Jerry Maguire.
Tom Cruise is Jerry Maguire in JERRY MAGUIRE. Poor Jerry. His
life is full of problems. As he puts it, he is "great at friendship,
bad at intimacy. That's my theme song." But it gets worse. One
night, he says, "I had two pieces of bad pizza, went to bed and grew a
conscience." After that, he writes a twenty-five page mission
statement for the large sports management company for which he works.
In it, he proposes "fewer clients, less money." This does not endear
him to management.
In a crowded restaurant, his boss, Bob Suger (Jay Mohr), fires
him. In the best scene in the movie, they both run back to the office
where they call all of Jerry's clients. Each promises to kill for
them. In the end, Jerry loses every one except Rod Tidwell (Cuba
Gooding Jr.). Rod is a second rate football player with a huge chip on
his shoulder on the field, but a great father off the field. Rod's
motto is that, "It's not about love. It's about 'show me the money.'"
You see Rod and his wife Marcee (Regina King) think Rod is worth ten
million, but given his attitude and his mediocre playing, the club
feels that 1.7 million is all the club can offer. The show has a scene
of the leaks in Rod's house -- he needs more money to make ends meet.
He can barely eke out an existence on his salary. Such are the
headaches of single digit millionaires.
The best acting in the show is by Mohr. His character is so
ruthless, he would not only walk over his mother's grave, he would sell
tickets to it if he could make a buck off of it. His performance is
Gooding gives a complex performance as an athlete trying to cope
with instant wealth. Viewers worth less than a million may have
difficulty understanding Rod's predicament, but Gooding provides heart
and style to the role.
Tom Cruise's movies inevitably have a love angle. Someone has to
be there for the female members of the audience to identify with. In
this film, relative unknown Renee Zellweger plays young widow Dorothy
Boyd. She is the only one who leaves the agency to come to work for
Jerry's new company. Although he is her boss and he fondles her, it is
okay since he is Tom Cruise. He tries to make up for it by making lame
jokes about not wanting to be like Clarance Thomas. She reassures him
that he is not.
They have a romance where Jerry is "loyal" to her, and they both
agree that they love him. Jerry, remember, does not do that intimacy
thing. My favorite scene between the two of them has her trying to
flirt with him while her young son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki) swings on
their arms yelling, "One, two, three, swing!" Lipnicki is a cloyingly
sweet actor who began to get on my nerves. He suffers from constant
excessive smiling. The camera (Janusz Kaminski) kept in tight on him
lest we miss any of it. I also have a problem with a show that has
young kids saying the F word even if it does get laughs.
"I've had three lovers in four years and all run a distant second
to a good book and a warm bath," confesses Dorothy to her sister Laurel
Boyd (Bonnie Hunt). She wants a man, and Jerry looks like the real
McCoy. Dorothy breaks down in tears, but battle veteran Laurel
cautions her, "Take it easy. Don't cry at the beginning of a date.
Cry at the end like I do."
The story, written by the director, has many good lines and is
quite upbeat. Although most of the twists are inevitable, the show
never loses the audience's interest.
Easily the worst part of the picture is the divorced women's group
that meets regularly at Laurel's house. This is a pointless subplot
that only serves to stop what is otherwise a high energy movie. There
is not a single good actress among the group, and their lines are all
trite. Kaminski even uses a handheld camera in documentary style in a
failed attempt to add authenticity to the scenes.
My favorite small part of the film is the sound effects. Listen
to the crushing blows delivered on the football field. Each blow
sounds like a small car crash.
Tom Cruise is a highly talented star with sex appeal and a large
group of fans. I do not think he has ever given a boring performance
although too many of them have bordered on the superficial. Like a
class of kindergartners after a party, his manic characters have all
the hyper-kinetic activity associated with sugar overload. His
favorite role of mine remains his teenager with the raging hormones in
RISKY BUSINESS, but I have enjoyed his other work from RAIN MAN to
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. Only in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE did I not like
his acting. I am even one of the few people who liked him in FAR AND
So how is Cruise's performance in JERRY MAGUIRE? He skims over
the surface without ever touching the water. His creates a character
that is enjoyable to watch, but one not worth caring about. As the
star upon which the movie is build, the weakness of his work is the
major disappointment of the film. His acting in the picture is
interesting, but never as involving as it should be. Overall JERRY
MAGUIRE is an enjoyable film, but far from a memorable one.
JERRY MAGUIRE runs too long at 2:15. This is a comedy, not an
epic. The film is rated R for sex, brief nudity, some profanity, dope
smoking, but no violence. Some will call football inherently violent,
but I am not counting it as such. I had a good time at JERRY MAGUIRE
so I am recommending it and giving it ** 1/2.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes