Title: Jerry Maguire
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Sport
Director/Writer: Cameron Crowe
Music: Nancy Wilson
Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski
Cuba Gooding Jr.
For those who endearingly miss Tom Cruise as a fine actor, or Cameron Crowe at the top of his games, JERRY MAGUIRE is a blast from the past. Our titular hero (Cruise) is a smug predator in a cutting-throat capitalistic business, who suddenly grows a conscience, and then immediately makes a wrong move, trying to exhort his peers to also grow a conscience, unfortunately the majority of those is too cynical to accept his noble motion, he is therefore blackballed and according to Murphy’s law, must hit the rock bottom, which only leaves him a loyal admirer/accountant Dorothy Boyd (Zellweger), his only client, an under-the-radar football star Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr.) and a goldfish.
Tailored to USA’s pernicious winner/loser ethos, the subsequent upswing must diligently tackle two most important things a man must obtain, his career and his love life, to prove the world that he is not a loser but a bona-fide winner, aka, it is the “kwan”, that really matters to one’s truth worth, a magically coined word by Crowe. Cogently the film thrives as a sincere page-turner albeit Crowe being rather deferential towards all the genre tropes, his script coruscates with a cordial sympathy towards Jerry’s fix and a tangential self-awareness of eschewing the mawkishness, conceivably, it is a story borne out of affection and deliberation, but one defective looms large in the end is that Crowe doesn’t get more into the agent business maybe because it is not his forte, the triumphalism is approached through Rod’s doughty sportsmanship (a cinematic but garden-variety antic with a sharp tang of cruelty, in real life, more often than not, a player is physically permanently damaged), and what Jerry has attributed to the triumph is regretfully left largely untapped, however he would right this wrong in his next film ALMOST FAMOUS (2000), which is more in his element, inspired by the days when he was a contributing editor of Rolling Stones Magazine.
One might argue JERRY MAGUIRE is the film where Tom Cruise’s Hollywood golden-boy charisma is in his highest voltage, and his effort is incontrovertibly contagious, ever so remarkable he devotes himself entirely to a character which is quite self-referential in a manner (riding a money-seeking business, deviled by commitment issue, cannot deal with being alone), sheds self-consciousness and flexes his muscles to bring forth exigency, compassion and warmth, in company with a honest-to-goodness romance playing off against a self-abasing Renée Zellweger, who also punches above her weight in a conventional ugly-duckling role but spiffed up with a strong sense of dignity and sensibility, she knows when to waive what doesn’t worthy of her even it is what she really wants, that is in my humble opinion, the most valuable takeaway of the whole movie. The homey atmosphere is also magically graced by a heart-melting Jonathan Lipnicki as Dorothy’s cutie son and Bonnie Hunt’s protective but amenable elder sister (although that divorced women group gag should be relegated to a cheesy chick flick dud).
Lastly, about Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Oscar victory, he does strut his stuff with a highfalutin bravado, errs on the side of being clownish but essentially an entertaining hoot, like the film per se, a feel-good treat concocted with a conscience.
referential points: Cameron Crowe’s ALMOST FAMOUS (2000, 8.1/10), VANILLA SKY (2001, 6.7/10), ELIZABETHTOWN (2005, 4.0), WE BOUGHT A ZOO (2011, 5.4/10).