Thursday, October 15, 2009
Jerry Maguire, 1996
As you may or may not know, my life has been in full-on red alert crisis mode since June 19th, 2009, when I lost my job. Because of these mitigating circumstances, it is not at all difficult for me to relate to Jerry Maguire.
I never thought I would say that I relate to Tom Cruise, but he's actually perfect for this part and he does a decent job. Jerry is a sports agent who, in a fit of moral and philosophical guilt one night, writes a memo about how the sports agencies could be more fair to their clients and focus more on their value as human beings rather than walking dollar signs. At first, everyone in his office seems to love the memo. But within a week, Jerry finds himself with a big fat pink slip. As he leaves the office he asks, "Who's coming with me?" And, to his surprise, Dorothy, played by Renee Zellweger, responds in the affirmative.
She leaves with Jerry because she's in love with him, but she's also bored and she "wants to believe in something." She admits to being moved by his memo, and the two enter into business together with Jerry's one remaining client, a footballer named Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. You may remember his acceptance speech when he won the Oscar for best supporting actor for this role.
Essentially the film is the story of Jerry attempting to "make it," in his new world with no clients, no support, and no money. Of course he and Dorothy are bound to fall in love, or at least try to fall in love, and her status as a single-parent makes us love her. It doesn't hurt that her kid, Ray, is maybe the cutest thing ever.
The highlights of this film are its humor, the writing and direction of Cameron Crowe, and the incredible supporting performances of Cuba, Renee, Regina King (who plays Rod's wife) and Kelly Preston (who plays Jerry's ex-fiance). While it's disconcerting that Dorothy gives up a steady job with health insurance to work with some dude she doesn't really know but thinks is cute, the love story between the two of them ultimately ends up being believable. And so in the end the movie becomes a story about how the crises in our lives eventually help us to discover who we want by our side and what we can do to keep them there.