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The personal crisis of a professional smooth-talker

Directed and written by Cameron Crowe.

Starring Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bonnie Hunt.

By Teresa Huang
Staff Reporter

Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise's latest public showing, reportedly held the best of both worlds for movie goers - sports and competition for the guys and Cruise himself for the women. Though it does succeed in offering a little of everything, it subsequently fails to do much more. Jerry Maguire is a predictable and jumbled blend of romantic comedy, sports drama, and Tom Cruise-ness that is neither memorable nor satisfying.

Cruise plays Jerry Maguire, a sports agent with Sports Management International, a company that represents big name athletes, negotiating their draft offers and taking a bit of commission and a lot of fame from every deal. The film portrays the profession of sports management as one involving plenty of smooth talking and working contacts, much like show business.

Jerry Maguire is successful and loved by his company and clients, but when he writes a brash and inspired mission statement for the profession during one of his few moments of true honesty, he is given the boot by a colleague. Maguire's only remaining clients are football players Rod Tidwell, played with style by Cuba Gooding Jr. (Boyz N The Hood, Outbreak), and Frank "Cush" Cushman, played by Jerry McConnell (Sliders). Maguire attempts to rescue his career, his vision, and his image with the help of Dorothy Boyd, a former SMI accountant, played by newcomer Renee Zellweger (Dazed and Confused).

Though most of the publicity has heralded Jerry Maguire as Cruise's best performance ever, the star awards should really go to Zellweger, who is fantastically wistful and naive as Cruise's love interest, and Jonathan Lipnicki (The Jeff Foxworthy Show), who is adorably annoying and real as her six-year-old son Ray. They steal the screen from Cruise in every scene with their sincerity, often making him look full of bull in comparison. Nearly all of the women in the film turn out terrific performances, including Kelly Preston (From Dusk Till Dawn) as Cruise's sassy former fiancee Avery, and Bonnie Hunt (Jumanji, Only You) as Zellweger's well-meaning sister Laurel.

The eventual romance between Cruise and Zellweger is predictable from the start, as is the trouble they run into. The audience hopes she'll save him from his self-absorbed state and is left feeling she deserves something better. But like all of the female characters in Jerry Maguire, Zellweger is able to realize what's happening and pick herself up. The male characters, in comparison, take to whining and yelling when they should be taking control of their lives, especially Cruise, whose character is charming and somewhat of a fake who doesn't show any sign of honesty or sincerity throughout the movie until the feel-good ending, which is sufficiently sentimental but still can't make us forget the rest of his behavior.

Cruise's performance feels like his performance in any of his other movies - he's the suave doll we expect him to be, and we feel like we've seen it all before. His quest to regain his place in the world carries on tediously, leaving the viewer tired with anticipation as to when he will finally discover his heart. By the time he finally does, we've reached the end of the movie, and most people have spent so much time being annoyed with his character to care if he's changed. Jerry Maguire isn't the best of both worlds, but rather a confused blend of a sports movie and a romantic comedy. Though it apparently contains something for everyone, the result is a scattered movie that only partially pleases the viewer. Despite some strong performances, Jerry Maguire is altogether unappealing.