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Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a successful sports agent. The biggest clients, the respect, a beautiful fiancée, he has it all. Until one night he questions his purpose. His place in the world, and finally comes to terms with what's wrong with his career and life. Recording all his thoughts in a mission statement Jerry feels he has a new lease on life. Unfortunately his opinions aren't met with enthusiasm from his superiors and after dishonorably being stripped of his high earning clients and elite status within the agency Jerry steps out into the sports business armed with only one volatile client (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and the only person with belief in his abilities (Renée Zellweger) with the impossible task of rebuilding what he once had. Along the way he faces the harsh truths which he'd ignored in the past and a host of hardships that he'd never faced before. Written by
This movie is a comedy, drama, romance, sports movie, and a money movie (e.g. Wall Street, where the main character is trying to make a lot of money). The problem such a movie faces is maintaining a consistent tone. Remember Prizzi's Honor? JM solves that problem by using restraint. It doesn't go over the top, although its characters sometimes do. It has funny moments, but it's not Animal House or American Pie. It's a drama, but it keeps the stakes low. This isn't Armageddon: they aren't trying to save the world. There are no life or death decisions. The romantic stakes aren't that high either: Renee Zellweger loves Tom Cruise, but she's been in love before and if this doesn't work out, she will be again. The only really high stakes are the money. By keeping the stakes low, JM let's us watch it with a bit of detachment.
This is more of a drama than a comedy. A good test is whether the characters change. Here, Tom Cruise starts off completely cynical, abruptly changes to ridiculously idealistic, then spends the rest of the movie finding the right balance. Renee Zellweger starts by loving Tom Cruise from afar, then gets him, then has to work out her ambiguous feelings.
JM is fun to watch. The characters, though flawed, are sympathetic. We enjoy watching them succeed, fail (sometimes in funny ways), and try to discover what they really care about. It's complicated, thoughtful, and surprisingly subtle.
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