Cinemalphabet: J is for Jerry Maguire (1996)
While I don’t actually enjoy watching professional sports, I love watching movies about them! I count amongst my faves: Slapslot, both versions of Brian’s Song, Rudy,Friday Night Lights (both movie and television show) Hoosiers, any one starring Denzel and, of course, Jerry Maguire. Technically, it’s more love story and vehicle for Tom’s pre-public persona meltdown than it is about football, but there was enough gridiron gab to keep me engaged. Also, it’s a really funny movie. I’m not just talking about, “Show me the money!” or “Help me help you!” though those lines are certainly worthy of their immortal status.
This is quite possibly my favorite scene of the movie. Tom Cruise is so perfect in this scene that it almost makes me forget every single greasy thing he’s ever said publicly about anything.
Okay, he had me at, “up-at-dawn-pride-swallowing-siege”!
I can’t help but love this scene. I thought his voice was surprisingly good. He should a cover of “Free Falling”. It doesn’t hurt that it’s one of my favorite Petty songs.
In addition to the memorable dialog there are some great cameos by sports figures and a hilarious turn by Glenn Frey as the crispy general manager of the Sun Devils (Rod Tidwell’s team). Oh yeah, and Cuba earned him that Oscar. It’s easy for people to remember only his exuberant speech and not the strong performance which facilitated it. Also, if you’re only one of a handful of blactors to ever grace the stage to pick up an Oscar, you can be as exuberant as you want. When POCs are winning Oscars as often as whites then maybe I’ll suggest folks tamp it down a bit.
I’m not a big fan of Cameron Crowe, despite somehow having seen nearly all his films, but I think Jerry Maguire was his best. It was the right story with the right actors and at the right time. Unfortunately, the choice to put Cruise in the driver’s seat so to speak, meant it was never going to be bound for major Oscar glory. Other directors have suffered identical fates. If you want to improve your Oscar yielding odds, better to keep Cruise far away from your production as possible. It would have made a decent best picture, but it was not in the cards for Jerry Maguire.
Actually, the only aspect of the film I find lacking at best and tedious at most is the love story that interrupts all the goodness happening between Jerry and Rod, Rod and his wife and Jerry and himself. I would have much rather have there be no romantic component to the film, mostly because I found Renee Z unbearable in the pivotal role of Dorothy. I like her in other things, especially Bridget Jones, but just couldn’t stand her in Jerry Maguire. Her squinty performance and whispery whine were just too much distraction for a film that was flirting with perfection.