Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire

*****

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Don't be fooled by the poster for Jerry Maguire. With its white background, handwritten-style font and profile shot of Tom, it might appear like just another drama-based rom-com - but it's not. Instead, it's Cameron Crowe's finest hour to date.

Despite being at the top of his game, sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is fed up with the cynical nature of the business and writes a mission statement urging a more human approach. Getting fired as a result, he decides to start his own agency and takes lovestruck accountant Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) along for the ride. While all Jerry's clients desert him, underachieving footballer Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr) stays loyal.

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Writer-director Crowe showed promise with debut efforts Singles and Say Anything, here he positively shines with a fresh take on how to be both funny and romantic. Indeed, what's remarkable about Crowe's cinematic high-point is how he achieves conventional things in unconventional ways. Continually catching us offguard with his quirky offbeat-approach, the former Rolling Stone rock-journo never quite plays things out like you're expecting after years of Hollywood identikit efforts. Just to clarify, this is a good thing.

So yes, it's got the traditional romantic story arc (boy meets girl, loses her, gets her back) and yes it's a typical buddy-movie (each one enriching the other's life for the better), but neither element is predictable. Complemented by a typically electric soundtrack (including Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, The Who), the 138-minute running-time flies by as the two threads take interesting - and often surprising - directions. Best of all though is the satisfying full-stops both are given.

Like Jerry's memo - sorry, mission statement - it's a bit touchy-feely and occasionally even schmaltzy. However, there's so much depth and heart that you won't care, while Zellweger makes for a very likeable love-interest. Pleasingly, there are also plenty of funny moments which serve to remind you that for all the moving drama - this is a firmly life-affirming feelgood experience. As such, those without a beaming, face-wide grin at the final credits may want to check their pulse.

And, if its Crowe's best, it's also, arguably, Cruise's. Though playing against his usual ultra-successful persona is enough of a change on its own, the megastar also displays a surprisingly deft comic touch which leads to many memorable chuckle-worthy scenes.

Giving him a firm run for his (show me the) money is Cuba Gooding Jr. The support here is generally excellent - Jay Mohr as slimy rival agent Bob Sugar, Bonnie Hunt as the disapproving sister, Regina King as Rod’s opinionated wife and of course young Jonathan Lipniki as the cutest movie actor in the universe. But ultimately it's Gooding Jr who steals the show, his mouthy, big-hearted wide-receiver eventually winning us - like the crowd - over. You knooooow!

Funny, moving and deliciously-offbeat, Jerry Maguire is both essential Crowe and Cruise. It had us at hello.

Reviewed on: 05 Apr 2010
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A sports agent tries to go it alone... with just one client.
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