Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A romantic comedy about a sports agent is, in concept, kind of like a musical about an arms dealer, but Cameron Crowe’s hit remains refreshingly witty, sharp, affecting, and—glory of glories—slick without being trite. A pleasurably humane and light-footed stroll through familiar territory, the movie at times smacks of a Ron Shelton or Paddy Chayefsky satire on the agenting industry, but in the end it’s too starry-eyed by half for that. Let’s face it: Tom Cruise is usually too good-looking and supercilious to be convincing as a normal, modest human being, but here, as a go-getter agent whose bread and butter are his empty smile and his spiel, he’s superb—suddenly, all of that self-love and amoral charm makes perfect sense. The dramatic crux is the hero’s midcareer crisis of integrity—a fit of self-loathing impels Maguire to write a “more heart, less profit” memo and distribute it around his bustling agency’s office. Of course, he’s summarily fired, but he manages to convince single-mom accountant Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) to come with him to help start up his own business. All of his clients drop him; all but one, that is—showboat Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr., who won an Oscar for it), a wide receiver with more attitude than talent. Jerry Maguire may be the most femme-friendly sports movie ever made, and it manages that feat without resorting to bathos.

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