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Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a highly successful but superficial sports agent who suddenly develops a conscience. One night he writes a desperate memo - a "mission statement" - to make amends for careless behavior. His call for fewer clients and more personal attention to each client receives hypocritical applause from his peers - and ultimately costs him his job and all his clients save two, Frank Cushman and Rod Tidwell. Cushman, a hotshot quarterback and top draft pick, double-crosses him on the eve of the NFL draft. Tidwell, a wide receiver on the last year of his NFL contract decides to stay with Jerry to renegotiate his contract into the eight-figures he feels he deserves. (Cuba Gooding, Jr., who will now be forever remembered for coining the phrase, "Show me the money!" stars as Tidwell).
When leaving his sport management firm, Jerry implores others to join him in starting their own firm. Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), a quiet accountant enamored with Jerry, follows him. Eventually she falls in love with and marries him, but soon learns that Jerry is "good at friendship, bad at intimacy."
Jerry Maguire (1996) added yet another box-office smash to Tom Cruise's roster. Coming off a string of hits in the early to mid-90s -- including A Few Good Men (1992), The Firm (1993) and the much anticipated Mission Impossible (1996) - Cruise was box-office gold. Just by signing him to play the title character, Jerry Maguire's respectful Hollywood budget of thirty-five million soared to over fifty.
Cameron Crowe spent four years writing and researching this film, surprising even himself that he was writing a story about a sports agent. In the film's production notes on http://www.cameroncroweonline.com, Crowe explains, "I wasn't a jock growing up, but I thought the world of sports agents was something that hadn't been written about at the time, and where can you get more of a highly concentrated pursuit of pure money? I wondered, what if love and honor attempted to flourish in that world? And so I embarked on a wild little journey of research, going around and talking to a lot of sports agents and athletes. Basically, I just clanged around the NFL for a few years and picked up conversations, went to people's homes and saw what their world was like. It was fun, and a lot of it shows up in the movie."
During his interviews for the film, Crowe came across one NFL player who inspired the character of Rod Tidwell. The pro player told him, "I've gotten my butt kicked for five years. My contract is finally up. And I've told my agent one thing: Show Me The Money.'" This sent a chill through Crowe. "I just knew that this was such a defining thing for him," he explains. "I couldn't get the line out of my head. But then I spent more time with this guy, and found out that he wasn't greedy at all. He just had a few years left where he could get paid for what he does, and he had a family to support. And to me, that's a hero, a guy who is on the surface in the pursuit of cash, but in fact what is greed if greed is paying for the people you love and allowing them to survive? The character of Rod Tidwell came from that one sentence--Show Me The Money--and it's a big part of the movie."
Crowe's extensive research flushed out a 27 page Mission Statement actually authored by Crowe and not just a dummy prop for the film. According to Cruise in the film's production notes, "It really contains the essentials of what Jerry Maguire believes are right and wrong, and how society and life can just chip away at you. You start out in one direction. Then it's a very subtle thing that happens in your life. You compromise yourself once, and then it becomes easier to compromise yourself a second time. And then, before you know it, you do it without even thinking. Jerry writes the Mission Statement in a moment of realization, and spends the rest of the movie struggling to survive as a result."
Fully putting the Mission Statement in writing followed Crowe's usual creative method. "All of my scripts began as short stories. That just helps me know that it came from a world in which everything's fleshed out, where you know who lives across the street from the characters, and details like that. But I just thought, here I am asking all these actors to deal with a story centered around this Mission Statement. So I just stepped up and wrote it one night, fueled by a lot of coffee, and finished at about four in the morning. It's about dreams, nightmares, old jobs, old girlfriends, your hopes for yourself, hopes for your loved ones. It's just all the things that you maybe think randomly without putting down on paper. Jerry decided to put it on paper, and he ultimately suffers for it."
Tom Cruise had a different method in bringing Jerry Maguire to life. According to the memoirs of Jerry Ziesmer, the first assistant director on the film, entitled Mr. Coppola, Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Crowe, Cruise would ask for a warning before shooting a scene. When the cast and crew were ready, Ziesmer would nod to Cruise that everyone was ready when he was. Cruise would then take a jump rope and start jumping. Ziesmer would watch his face and when he looked like he was ready, Ziesmer would yell, "Roll it!" Cruise would throw down the rope and walk onto the set. Crowe would then shout, "Action!"
Their approaches definitely seem to have worked. Jerry Maguire earned a Best Picture, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay Academy nomination. Tom Cruise also earned a Best Actor nod, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. brought home the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor. The film also grossed $154 at the box-office, putting it among the top grossing films of 1996.
In addition to stellar performances by Cruise, Zellweger and Gooding, Jonathan Lipnicki also stands out as Dorothy's son, Ray, who bonds with Jerry in the course of the film. Rounding out the distinctive supporting cast is Kelly Preston as Jerry's flamboyant girlfriend, Bonnie Hunt as Dorothy's cynical sister, and Regina King as Rob's shrewd wife.
Producer: James L. Brooks, Cameron Crowe, Laurence Mark, J. Michael Mendel, Bruce S. Pustin, Richard Sakai, John D. Schofield, Lisa Stewart
Director: Cameron Crowe
Screenplay: Cameron Crowe
Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski
Film Editing: Joe Hutshing, David Moritz
Art Direction: Clayton R. Hartley, Virginia Randolph
Music: Aimee Mann, Nancy Wilson, Kurt Cobain
Cast: Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Rod Tidwell), Renee Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd), Kelly Preston (Avery Bishop), Jay Mohr (Bob Sugar), Jerry O'Connell (Frank Cushman).
by E. Lacey Rice