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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

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
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Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

"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 frighteningly believable.

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 AWAY.

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

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