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Jerry Maguire

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Jerry Maguire

Starring: Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger
Director: Cameron Crowe
Rated: R
RunTime: 138 Minutes
Release Date: December 1996
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Sports

*Also starring: Glenn Frey, Jonathan Lipnicki, Todd Louiso, Regina King, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bonnie Hunt, Jay Mohr, Kelly Preston

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
2½ stars out of 4

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 nave, 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

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