Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cruise Scores Big in Smart, Engaging `Jerry Maguire'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cruise Scores Big in Smart, Engaging `Jerry Maguire'

Article excerpt

Tom Cruise is simply terrific in Jerry Maguire, but there's so

much else right with this movie that it wouldn't matter even if

he were just OK.

How about Cuba Gooding Jr. as an exuberant, angry and complex

NFL wide receiver? Or newcomer Rene Zellweger, as a love

interest who's well worth winning? Or even 6-year-old Jonathan

Lipnicki, who's far more than just the cute kid he appears to

be? They make this movie breathe.

Jerry Maguire is part-sports story, the tale of a slick sports

agent who tumbles after discovering a newly-discovered

personality feature: a conscience.

And it's part-romantic comedy, as Cruise's Jerry Maguire slowly

falls, perhaps, for a single mother and co-worker who thinks his

new conscience is just about the most remarkable thing going --

and she doesn't mind that he looks like Tom Cruise, either.

Both parts mesh perfectly, resulting in a movie that's smart,

adult and engaging -- utterly romantic but without a mushy

thought in its savvy head.

Unlike so many big-name productions, you can feel a singular

presence behind Jerry Maguire. No meddling studios, no squads of

writers beating the life of the script.

No, this is writer-director Cameron Crowe's baby all the way.

He wrote the script for 1982's Fast Times at Ridgemont High,

still the smartest teen comedy around. And since then he's

written and directed a couple of wry, charming and underrated

romantic comedies, Say Anything and Singles.

He has an affection for characters who are smart romantics,

people all too aware of their own shortcomings, as well as the

dangers involved in matters of the heart. But damned if that can

stop them.

Cruise is funny and believable as Maguire, a big-shot sports

agent who, one feverish night, writes and distributes a 27-page

mission statement for the cutthroat company he works for. Boiled

down, it's this: "Less money. Fewer clients."

He is, of course, soon fired.

He's left with just one client, a second-tier, temperamental

NFL wide receiver (Gooding). …

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