Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire; tragicomedy, USA, 1996; D: Cameron Crowe, S: Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kelly Preston, Jonathan Lipnicki, Jerry O'Connell, Jay Mohr
Jerry Maguire is a sports agent who leads a great life, equipped with wealth, luxury and a girlfriend. But one day he gets disappointed by himself when he discovers he doesn't have any humanity and emotions left in him. In order to do a humane job that will actually please him spiritually, he quits in the agency with secretary Dorothy, a single mother, and decides to concentrate only on one client who will also be his friend, football player Rod. He falls in love with her and they get married. After a lot of tough luck, his client succeeds and gets a great contract, while Jerry finds new love in Dorothy.

With "Jerry Maguire", director Cameron Crowe obviously made some compromises with Hollywood and big budget A-productions, but, alas, just like his title hero, he didn't mess it up but actually stayed faithful to himself and his own style, in which he once again presented his bitter-sweet view on humanity. This is one of the most intelligent and subtly emotional movies of the 90s: in a time when people are willing to do any job possible to pay they bills, and willing to tolerate anything just to keep it, Crowe wrote a story about a person who actually doesn't want to continue living like that and quits just to do a humane job that will not leave him with a bad conscious afterwards. He leads fantastic dialogues that were not written to be 'cool', but to say something - in one scene, Jerry and Dorothy quit their jobs at the agency and exit in an elevator. There they spot a deaf couple talking with their hands. Dorothy translates to Jerry what they said: "You complete me".

These kind of lines are just so perfect because they foreshadow what will happen to the young couple in the second part of the film. And how often do you hear a sentence that sums up everything so poetically in just 3 words? Granted, the "Show me the money!" sequence is rubbish, but almost all other are spot on, including even Dorothy's romantic "You had me at 'hello'" or the even better, overlooked sweet dialogue in which she complains about constantly spending her time at home: "Look at me, Laurel. I'm the oldest 26-year old in the world". You can be jealous at Crowe, but these are the kind of lines you don't hear that often in movies. The rather magniloquent performance by Cooba Gooding Jr. - who is among the weakest best supporting Oscar winning actors of the 90s - is a matter of taste, the sugary moments with the little kid are truly too sugary, but one should not criticize too much, because the characters here have a soul. Renee Zellweger as Dorothy is smashing, and she arguably even gave the performance of a lifetime, whereas Tom Cruise is also great in a very untypical role for him: while many of his other roles in commercial films faded away and lost their appeal, here he delivered one with a permanent value. In the end, this is a very honest story that is a joy to watch, about something rarely talked about, that was explained by Dicky Fox in one quick scene: "If this (points to his heart) is empty, this (points to his head) doesn't matter".



Anonymous said...

You have reviewed the film well, but I think you failed to understand the character Rod Tidwell and this is the reason why you are criticising him so much. Actually, in the film 'Rod Tidwell', played by Cuba Gooding Jr. is a football player and of the American black community. It is not he, but the character who is showcased. He is a broke sportsman who is craving for some money, but is angry that he has been sidelined. He has the talent to become a great sportsman, but has too much of ego and hunger for those big bucks. All his talk and mannerisms in the film is an emotional outburst of 'Rod Tidwell' and according to me, he really deserved the best supporting actor award for the film.

Marin Mandir said...

Fair enough. Maybe the character himself was suppose to be like that, but then again, why would the title hero decide to put his career at stake for a man with such an ego, as you put it? This kind of contradicts the main message of the story, that you should stay true to yourself, not compromise just to earn a quick buck.

Overall, his character remains the weak link of the film in my opinion. He does have some sweet and humble moments when he manages to gain sympathy, but alas, they remain in minority. Almost all the other characters were spot on, though.