Monday, November 14, 2011
Undoubtedly Tom Cruise's and Cuba Gooding Jr's Best Film Ever!
Continuing my coverage of great movies from 1996, here is my take on the universally loved crowdpleaser - Jerry Maguire by the eclectic Cameron Crowe.
Cameron Crowe, who began his career as a writer for Rolling Stone, made a brilliant screen writing first appearance with the teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), one of the best of its ilk. Later he wrote and directed Say Anything (1989), a delightful romantic comedy about high school graduates, which I enjoyed enough to add to my permanent film collection. Singles (1992), about twenty-somethings in Seattle, was less impressive but still worth a viewing. With the Oscar nominated Jerry Maguire, which he wrote, directed and co-produced Crowe advanced to a thirty-something hero and created his most charming film to date. (I am also rooting to see his forthcoming "We Bought a Zoo" starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church). I haven't seen all the major movies from 1996 yet, but I'm guessing this was perhaps that year's best romantic comedy and a $270 million commercial hit worldwide.
As everyone knows, Tom Cruise plays the title character, a fast-talking sports agent whose life breaks down. He builds a new one for himself, on a fresh set of values, with the aid of Dorothy, an adoring single mother, and Rod, a flashy football player and loyal client. Now, if I were a skeptic, I'd point out that for a story about a slick agent trying to reinvent himself through candor and empathy, Jerry Maguire is an terribly slick film. I mean, any time I see a child actor as drop-dead adorable as little Jonathan Lipnicki, I know I'm being suckered. But in the face of so many amusing lines, funny sight gags, endearing performances, and expertly manufactured heart-tugging moments, how can I resist a movie like this? This is one of those times when I just drop my shields and let Hollywood make the magic. Besides, who can ignore the fantastic soundtrack featuring Tom Petty, Nirvana, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and more.
The often used pitch "show me the money" isn't the only quotable dialogue from Crowe's superb script, and he has assembled a cast that does full justice to his screenplay. This is the most I've liked Cruise since Risky Business, and he gets great support from everyone, especially the Oscar deserving Cuba Gooding, Jr., as his client Rod, and Bonnie Hunt as Dorothy's wisecracking but helpful sister. Cruise, with his fame, glamour, and overblown sticker price, may have garnered the glory, but for me this film's secret weapon was relative newcomer at that time Renee Zellweger. Her performance as Dorothy, the romantic underdog who wins Jerry's affections, is so beautiful it hurts.
Speaking of things that hurt - there's a short-lived Tom Cruise butt shot in the movie. I thought I'd mention that, as I've learned it's important to a lot of you. I sat next to some women at a watering hole the other night, and all they talked about were male butt shots. Obviously, these are vital cinematic essentials.
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