Jerry Maguire

on December 13, 1996 by Wade Major
Certain to reap both critical accolades and boxoffice gold, "Jerry Maguire" scores a touchdown for all parties involved, with star Tom Cruise and writer/director Cameron Crowe ("Say Anything," "Singles") taking home the lion's share of the credit. Feeling considerably shorter than its nearly 2 1/2-hour running time, "Jerry Maguire" ranks among the precious few films that manage to invoke the full spectrum of human emotion while appearing neither contrived nor insincere. Centering around, of all things, a successful sports agent (Cruise), the story focuses less on the politics of professional athletics than on Maguire's tumultuous personal struggle to retain both integrity and reputation after a sudden indulgence of conscience gets him fired from a prestigious agency.
   Faithfully following Maguire on his uncertain journey is his one remaining client, a talented but temperamental wide receiver named Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), and a doe-eyed single mother and former agency accountant named Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger). Bouts of pain and exultation ensue and, between the two, Maguire discovers a hidden capacity for love, friendship and commitment that forces him to finally confront his demons and find true happiness.
   Armed with Maguire's stockpile of insecurities and inadequacies, Cruise has what may well be the best role of his career, affording him the chance to showcase a level of vulnerability and sensitivity all but untapped since 1988's "Rainman." Likewise, Gooding exploits his meatiest part since "Boyz N the Hood" with Oscar-worthy vigor, while Zellweger's enchantingly lovable ingenue seems certain to vault the up-and-comer to instant A-list status. Filling out the excellent cast are Regina King and Bonnie Hunt, along with the irresistibly adorable Jonathan Lipnicki as Dorothy's sweetly precocious five-year-old son Ray.
   More than a triumph for the actors, though, "Jerry Maguire" is Crowe's triumph. Witty, touching, insightful and profoundly meaningful, "Maguire" marks the filmmaker's coming-of-age as an American auteur, a monumental task of storytelling that ranks among the best of this or any year. Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger, Bonnie Hunt and Regina King. Directed and written by Cameron Crowe. Produced by Bruce S. Pustin and John D. Schofield. A TriStar release. Drama. Rated R for language and sexuality. Running time: 138 min. Opens 12/13 wide
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