Jerry Maguire: Show Me The Money!

Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. Courtesy of TriStar Pictures.

Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire recently got an upgrade to 4K Ultra HD this past June as a part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection.

“Show Me The Money!”  “Help me help you.”  “You complete me.”  “You had me at hello.”  “The human head weighs eight pounds?”  “Kwan.”  These are just a few of the phrases that Crowe helped bring into the lexicon.

It’s not unfair to say that Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is having a midlife crisis.  Fired from his job at Sports Management International (SMI) after writing a 27-page mission statement, Maguire fights to hold onto his clients.  Any of his clients!  Only one of them is willing to keep him as his agent and that’s Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.).  The rest of them decide to stay at SMI after speaking with Maguire’s protégé, Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr).  Maguire breaks down upon leaving the office and is also able to successfully recruit Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger) in coming with him.

Star quarterback Frank Cushman (Jerry O’Connell) originally decides to stay with Jerry.  This doesn’t last for long because Sugar is also able to woo him to SMI.  If you pay attention to what happens, there is also some racism involved.  It turns out that Tidwell being one of Jerry’s clients does not sit well with Frank’s dad, Matt Cushman (Beau Bridges).

There are two big relationships for Jerry: Dorothy and Rod.  The relationship with Dorothy grows after Jerry breaks up with his fiancee, Avery (Kelly Preston).  Things also get interesting when it comes to Rod and his wife, Marcee (Regina King).  Rod wants a better contract and there’s no denying this.  Jerry gives Rod the personal attention he craves as a client because there are certainly no other clients.

The Monday Night Football scene initially causes concern when Rod appears to be injured. After a few serious minutes of not knowing what’s happening, Rod gets up and starts dancing in front of the crowd.  It’s one of those moments that could go in any direction but the resulting humor works in the film’s favor.  In terms of the film’s depiction of the sports world, Jerry Maguire is as authentic as things can get on screen.

You can’t set a movie in the sports world without a large number of cameos.  There are some NBA cameos but most of them belong to NFL players, coaches, and executives.  In terms of acting, Cruise, Gooding Jr., and Zellweger light up the screen.  It’s hard to look at the film now and imagine anyone else in these roles.  Crowe spent so long working on the screenplay that his first choice, Tom Hanks, could no longer take part.

Janusz Kaminski, a frequent Steven Spielberg collaborator, lenses the film with beautiful lighting and photography.  He also doesn’t shoot the film like a comedy–it’s more of a dramedy.  This is why he’s one of the top cinematographers in the industry.

Writer-director Cameron Crowe took his inspiration from various places.  However, one Hollywood incident certainly inspired Jerry Maguire’s inciting incident in the film: a 1991 memo about the state of the movie business from then-Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.  Crowe also took inspiration from a pair of classic films, Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success and Billy Wilder‘s The Apartment.  The former provided inspiration for Cruise’s take on the character while the latter provided the tone.  Together, the two certainly make for a winning combination.  Another inspiration is sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who also appears in the film.

By this point in his career Crowe had written Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the early 1980s. The Wild Life, Say Anything…, and Singles would follow.  However, it was this film that put Crowe on the map when it was released in 1996.  And mind you, this was before Crowe would give us Almost Famous four years later!

Jerry Maguire offers the best of both worlds: romance and sports.

CAST:  Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Kelly Preston, Jerry O’Connell, Jay Mohr, Bonnie Hunt

TriStar Pictures opened Jerry Maguire in theaters on December 13, 1996. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.