Directed by Cameron Crowe
For some reason, I resist Tom Cruise vehicles. I’m not sure why. It’s probably because he’s such a “star,” meaning everything he’s in seems to get hyped to the nines. I didn’t realize until I watched this movie on DVD that I had never seen the movie before. But the movie and Tom Cruise have been so talked about, I think it just felt as if I had seen it.
Well, I’ve seen it now and Jerry Maguire is great. Tom Cruise is perfect for the movie, but its success is squarely the result of Cameron Crowe’s cinematic storytelling. It is just a great story told very, very well.
This is a Tom Cruise vehicle of the first Tom Cruise phase, where he was the focal point of stories that were essentially romances. Now, of course, it’s phase two and he’s action Tom Cruise. Personally, I preferred phase one but who can argue with the kind of success he’s having as Action Tom?
As for Cameron Crowe, he appears to have a magic touch when it comes to this kind of movie (like Say Anything and Almost Famous). His films are infused with a kind of niceness, and anti-cynicism, that makes them so appealing. What is remarkable is that while they do have hint of saccharine sentimentality (hard to avoid in this kind of movie), they are never overwhelmed by it.
More importantly, Crowe has the ability to populate his movies with interesting characters who, somehow, seem to be average people, the kind you can easily imagine knowing. In fact, his characters are so ordinary it’s hard to imagine it’s not deliberate.
And speaking of ordinary, in a good way, the Jerry Maguire: Special Edition DVD has a video commentary (also a strictly audio version, as is the norm). This makes for some very interesting viewing. You get to watch the commentators as they watch (Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr.). While there isn’t a terrific amount of insight into the film in the commentary, it’s fascinating watching the people who made the film react to it.
This is kind of a cool feature, though I don’t think you would want to see it on every movie. It should be noted, too, that a large part of the commentary is just mutual admiration and laughing. However, it’s interesting seeing the way the individuals react to what they’re seeing. For instance, Crowe is obviously more concerned with the film as whole and how scenes relate, and so on. The actors, while also interested in this to a degree, clearly focus on performance, especially their own. I don’t think this is vanity; it’s viewing the work you’ve done and assessing how well you’ve done your job.
So … It’s a great movie; a great DVD presentation of Jerry Maguire.
3 stars out of 4.
(Originally posted 2002.)