Jerry Maguire (1996) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former colleague.

  • 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 of 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, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), and the only person with belief in his abilities, Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger), with the impossible task of rebuilding what he once had. Along the way, he faces the harsh truth which he'd ignored in the past and a host of hardships that he'd never faced before.

  • Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) used to be a typical sports agent: willing to do just about anything he could to get the biggest possible contracts for his clients, plus a nice commission for himself. Then, one day, he suddenly has second thoughts about what he's really doing. When he voices these doubts, he ends up losing his job and all of his clients, except for Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), an egomaniacal football player. Can Jerry resurrect his career while still staying true to himself?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Jerry Maguire is a busy sports agent for a very large sports agency. After one of his clients is injured, the client's child insults Jerry for not having his dad's best interest in mind. A short time later at his company's annual conference and while dwelling on that insult during a feverish night, he experiences an epiphany of what he thinks it should mean to represent someone. Feeling inspired, Jerry writes it all down as a mission statement and has it distributed to everyone in attendance, including ideas such as "fewer clients, less money." Returning from the conference he has a chance encounter with an accountant named Dorothy from his firm who tells him she was inspired by his memo. A week later he is fired from the company by his protege, Bob Sugar. After spending the rest of the afternoon contacting his clients and trying to maintain a client list, Jerry is left with only one client, a very outspoken, obnoxious wide receiver, Rod Tidwell, who only wants Jerry to "Show Him the Money." As he's leaving he walks thru the main company work area and invites anyone who wants to be part of something great to join him. At first no one speaks then finally Dorothy jumps up and walks out with Jerry.

    In an effort to rebuild a large client base, Jerry's fiancee Avery convinces him to go see the college football phenom Cushman at his home in Texas and that getting Cush will help him attract other clients. When he arrives Cushman's dad tells Jerry that since he showed up they will let Jerry be his agent for the upcoming NFL draft but refuses to sign a contract at that time, saying "my word is stronger than oak." Later at the NFL draft Jerry focuses almost all of his attention on parading Cush around which leave Rod feeling neglected. Jerry finally makes time to parade Rod around the gathering of owners and coaches, spending an hour or so introducing him and talking Rod up to them all. Jerry then goes back to Cushman's room where he inadvertently intercepts a call from Bob Sugar to Cush, discovering then that Cushman's dad had signed a contract with Bob "while you were out with that black fella." Avery is viciously berating Jerry for failing to get a signed contract when he was in Texas when Jerry realizes he doesn't want to marry her so he breaks off the engagement.

    Later that night Jerry is drunk and invites himself over to Dorothy's house, over the objections of her sister Lauren. Jerry proceeds to make a pass at Dorothy which she gently rebuffs due to his inebriated state. He is embarrassed and leaves after assuring her that their new company will be fine when they get Rod's new contract from Arizona, his current team. A few days later after returning from Arizona where he was unsuccessful at getting Rod a new contract, Jerry invites Dorothy out to dinner after which they impulsively decide to spend the night together. The next day the offer from Arizona is insultingly low so Rod opts to play out the final year of his current contract and be a free agent next year. Dorothy tells Jerry she is going to take an accounting job in San Diego which will require her to move. Jerry, who is not good at being alone, impulsively proposes to her just as she is preparing to leave so that she will stay. They get married but as a group of family and friends, including Rod, watch the wedding video later it is clear that Jerry is not excited, just stressed out.

    The story moves quickly along to the next football season during which we see Jerry on the road at all Rod's games, as opposed to being at home with Dorothy. Over the course of the season we see Jerry and Rod develop a close friendship. As Jerry and Dorothy spend time with Rod and his wife Marcy, Dorothy admiringly observes the depth of commitment Rod and Marcy show to one another. The night before Jerry is leaving for a Monday Night Football game, Dorothy confronts Jerry with the idea that his proposal several months ago was more of an idea than an actual proposal and their marriage was a mistake. When Jerry tells her that he doesn't give up, that "he sticks", she tells him that she doesn't want someone just to stick, she wants someone that loves her.

    At the MNF game the sportscasters indicate that Rod has had a great year and is one of the prime reasons that Arizona is in contention for a playoff spot if they win this game. Rod has a great night with multiple impressive, tough catches including the game winner. Jerry and Rod share a jubilant emotional moment after the game after which Jerry rushes home to Dorothy. He walks in to the house during the middle of Lauren's divorced women's support group meeting and makes a plea in front of all of them for Dorothy's love. He declares his overwhelming love for her and she readily accepts him back. Some time later during a TV interview with Rod, it is revealed that Rod gets a very generous offer from Arizona, allowing him to finish his career there which is something he wanted.

    In the final scene Jerry and Dorothy are walking her 8 yr old son along a path next to a baseball diamond when a ball lands at the boys feet. He throws it impressively far to get it back onto the field, prompting a discussion between Dorothy and Jerry about grooming him for a career "to foster his natural talent" according to Jerry.

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