Jerry Maguire - * * * 1/2*

Jerry Maguire is an crowded but involving drama about a man of conscience amid a sea of cynicism. Tom Cruise stars as the title character, Jerry Maguire, who begins the film as a top sports agent at a large agency. Things are going well for him: he has many clients, makes the right deals, and is at the top of his game…until the focus on money rather than fans, the obsession with numbers rather than the love of the game, cause Maguire to have a crisis of conscience. He writes a mission statement for the firm, exposing the faults of the business, and as a result, is soon fired. He manages to retain one loyal member of the firm, accountant Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), and only two clients: a bitter wide receiver (Cuba Gooding Jr.) attempting to renegotiate his contract with the Arizona Cardinals, and a very promising quarterback (Jerry O’Connell) who could very likely be the top draft pick in the NFL. The film progresses, focusing not only on Maguire’s career, but his personal life, and the lives of his clients. Much like its title character, Jerry Maguire tries to do too much at times. Among it’s many subplots and situations include divorce, marriage, breakups, makeups, single motherhood, the safety and longevity of being a pro athlete, goldfish, morality, friendship, mentorship, and many more. The film occassionally gets lost among its flood of subplots, but Tom Cruise is a commanding presence, and makes you interested in the intricacies of his deals. It is fascinating to watch his cocky top-of-the-world persona begin to crack, crumble and collapse beneath him…and even more fascinating to see how he survives. Although Cruise supports this movie, many of the other actors shine as well. Cuba Gooding Jr is a treat to watch as the receiver who’s just at the edge of greatness, and frustrated that he’s not there. Renee Zellweger does a fair job, and is appealing at times, but lacks strong leading lady charisma. Jonathan Lipnicki, as Dorothy’s young son, steals a few scenes, but is a bit too cute and precocious. Director Cameron Crowe nearly fumbles the ball with an overabundance of situations and subplots, but is rescued by the starpower of his actors.

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