Jerry Maguire (15)

Directed by Cameron Crowe
Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr, Renee Zellweger

Writer/director Cameron Crowe has a reputation for making thoughtful, twenty and thirty-something films involving mild angst and the search for love in films like Say Anything and Singles. This film has something those films didn't: Tom Cruise. The presence of a megastar was always going to alter the approach of a director like Crowe. This is the story of a sports agent, the titular JM, who decides that his firms approach is too money grabbing and produces a memo during an attack of late night shivers that changes his future. He is fired and all his clients leave except for football player Cuba Gooding Jr and smitten account Renne Zellweger(now there's a name to test your pronunciation!).
We follow Jerry through his struggle to survive and faltering romance with Zellweger and her adorable son Ray(the incredibly natural Jonathan Lipnicki-another name to get your tongue around.)Amazingly enough, the film ends on a high as all comes right for our heroes.
I had heard that Cruise was hot for an Oscar in this, and indeed the film itself is nominated. Quite amazing as this is a very unexceptional film in my opinion. For a start off, who cares about sports agents? They are well below lawyers and about on a par with tabloid journalists in the integrity stakes. It is hard to feel much sympathy for Maguire, especially as Cruise plays him cocky as hell- well can Cruise do anything else? I don't know why his performance is rated so highly, I thought Cruise was outshone by virtually all the other cast members. Gooding has also been Oscar nominated and he is in with a chance I think. His is a far more complex character and Gooding plays the arrogance and humour well. I particularly liked the scene where Cruise does one of his actor-ish speeches about surviving and Gooding stares at him then bursts out laughing. He then proceeds to imitate Jerry's over the top impassioned pleas. And I bet that very plea is one of the scenes these awards shows screen to demonstrate Cruise's talents in the film. Renee Zellweger is not a name I know- I would have remembered- but she was very good also. She is very sweet and pretty, but very natural and likeable, although her character is a bit too fawning over the arrogant agent. The young boy Jonathan Lipnicki is brilliant. Talk about natural, he is very cute and appealing and almost steals the film. The ever-wonderful Bonnie Hunt gets her usual type of role-good lines, small part. So, all these good performances and Tom Cruise is the hot one? He is OK, but I think it is just that whenever a big star is slightly better than normal, everyone cries Oscar- especially if he is in something other than an action blockbuster.
As for the film being nominated as best film, again I am surprised. It is nice enough but the opening is rushed and the rest is too long. 139 minutes could easily have been cut to 100 or so. The ending is clumsy with its 'everyone's happy now' feelgood factor, and I am uncomfortable with films that open with 8 or 9 year old kids using f*** you, just to show how contemptable the sports agents are.
The supporting characters are well drawn, I did like the divorced women's group that appeared like a Greek chorus throughout the film, but Jerry himself is simply not interesting or likeable enough, even if he is played by Tom Cruise. Crowe does get in a few of his favourite themes- the nature of love, the search for happiness etc, but this is an unmemorable film- I can't remember Gooding or Zellweger's characters names and I saw it yesterday. Cruise is OK, but the other actors are better and that is the main reason to see it. Highly overrated. 5/10.

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