Okay, say it with me—that famous line from Jerry Maguire . . . one, two, three:
If you yelled, "Show me the money," you probably think of this iconic 1996 film as a sports movie. If you sighed, "You had me at hello," then you most likely think of this Tom Cruise/Renee Zellweger film as a love story.
Either way, that’s a big hint as to the reason for this movie’s enduring popularity, and the fact that it won an Oscar (for Best Supporting Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and was nominated for four more, including Best Picture and
Best Original Screenplay. Cameron Crowe’s movie had a storyline that managed to put nearly equal focus on sports and romance. It really did have something for everyone (at least everyone who likes sports or romance).
The story line, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet (what are you waiting for, anyway?) revolves around sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), who has a late-night epiphany. Maguire decides he needs to hone down his client list and treat each one with more personal attention and respect. He’s fired for this "touchy-feely" attitude, of course (by Jay Mohr, who does smarmy to a T). When he starts his own company, only one football player, Rod Tidwell (Gooding) and one company accountant, Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) stick with him.
But what more does a person need than one loyal, funny friend and one smitten, fetching love interest? Nothing, right? That’s what our emotionally guarded hero needs to figure out. Thanks to lots of patience from Dorothy, not to mention her adorable son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki), he eventually does.
This movie was a career-launcher for Gooding, Gooding, Zellweger and Lipnicki. It was an unexpected sort of romantic comedy—one that transcended the "chick-flick" moniker and managed to draw in the guys as well. And this was not only because it had a good, solid storyline, but also because of writer/director Cameron Crowe.
Crowe captured that restlessness of prosperity that many newly grown-up suburban kids were feeling: that "now what" that resulted from coming of age in a middle-class, financially secure family. Jerry Maguire‘s eschewing of the easy life and subsequent search for meaning rang awfully true for a lot of Gen X-ers who grew up in financially comfortable homes. And at the same time, there was Dorothy, a single mom raising her child—another situation that was close to the hearts of many young adult children of divorce in the mid-90s.
It’s worth watching Jerry Maguire anew if you haven’t seen it in awhile (and if you’ve never seen it, again I ask, what are you waiting for?). Fifteen years later, it will still have you—say it with me—at hello.
Watch the Jerry Maguire movie trailer.