29 Days of Romance, Review #18: Jerry Maguire (1996)

29 Days of Romance, Review #18: Jerry Maguire (1996)

 

Jerry Maguire poster
IMDb

Directed by: Cameron Crowe. Starring: Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr. Runtime: 2h 19 min. Released: December 13, 1996.

The titular Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a sports agent on top of the world, working for a huge sports agency called Sports Management International (SMI). When one of his clients sustains his fourth concussion, Jerry only cares about getting him back out there so he can make more money. It’s an industry that puts the business first – not the interest of the players.

He has a moral epiphany and writes a mission statement that calls for less clients and less profit so the client can be cared for. Since this industry is all about the money, he’s fired and colleague Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr) poaches all but one of Maguire’s clients, leaving Jerry with only Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). With that, Jerry starting his own company and bringing his former secretary, Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger) along for the ride.

Jerry Maguire turns out to be an inspirational story about standing up for what you believe in, even if that means jeopardizing your entire career. It’s great watching Jerry go from someone cynical to someone that opens up throughout the film. His fear of being alone is also something that’s well-developed throughout.

Helping make him a better person is Dorothy, a single mom to Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki in his feature debut) and the chemistry in this trio is really charming. Zellweger is fantastic in her role, as is Cruise, and the acting is one of the strongest aspects of Jerry Maguire in a film chock-full of them. By the way, the romantic chemistry here is steamy, especially in one scene on a porch.

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Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire. (IMDb)

Cuba Gooding Jr. is phenomenal, too, in his Oscar-winning role as Tidwell, a hot-headed wide receiver who just wants to get paid as he repeatedly says the film’s most famous line, “Show me the money!” He plays the persona of cocky NFL wide receiver well while being hilarious and consistently engaging.

I don’t find him cocky to a point of obnoxiousness because he always has a point, and he’s trying to get his money because he’s a great player. He has an attitude problem, and he’s hungry for attention throughout the film because he doesn’t feel like he ever gets his due. He also wants his money because of the reality that he’s getting older and he only has so many years left to nab a big contract so he can set he and his family up for life. Regina King is also a highlight as his wife, Marcee. There’s a point where he seems to get injured, and the tension in this scene is palpable and frankly scary because you root for Ray.

The chemistry is great between Cruise and Zellweger – and her joy is really endearing and heartwarming throughout – but the friendship between Jerry and Ray is something special to watch. It’s an honest, great friendship and we see that something this personal isn’t commonplace in the agent-to-client dynamic.

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Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. (IMDb)

The relationship is like this because Ray is Jerry’s last client and that’s what makes him fight so hard, but the fight is realistic and passionate, desperate even, and it grows into an authentic friendship bigger than being shown the money. I also love the sports side of this film and learning more about the agency side of sports, and how it ticks, is fascinating to me.

The other shining aspect of this film is Cameron Crowe’s flawless direction and amazing writing. The scenes are consistently interesting and the pacing is strong. The only time he ever gets in his own way is during the big romantic drama moment and in Jerry’s big plea, there’s a dramatic zoom and he says, “We live in a cynical, cynical world.” That took me out of the moment slightly because it just didn’t seem to fit within the monologue, but it didn’t take me out of it too much because I knew this was the big moment where Dorothy says, “You had me at ‘hello.’”

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Renée Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. (IMDb)

It’s an iconic scene and the writing really is great when there are two of the best movie quotes in this. I just loved this film and I’m glad I finally watched it. Tom Cruise is great as Maguire, and the supporting cast is just stellar, Bonnie Hunt included as Dorothy’s sister. I really thought Renée Zellweger was the heart of this film. Jonathan Lipnicki is also adorable as her son, and just about everything he says is funny. I’ll leave you with this: Did you know the human head weights eight pounds?

Score: 100/100

 

Monsters University (2013)

Monsters UniversityRelease Date: June 21, 2013

Director: Dan Scanlon

Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi

Runtime: 110 min

Pixar is one of this century’s most consistent studios; but they are fallible. I’ve seen 10 out of 14 of their movies. Cars 2 is apparently the runt of the litter, and I haven’t seen that, or the original. Brave (my review) is a good animated movie, but I’m not so big on the story and I haven’t (nor has anyone else, I doubt) forgiven it for winning that Oscar for Best Animated Feature yet. Monsters University is the fourteenth film out of Pixar’s creative cannon, and their first prequel.

From the moment Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) met, they couldn’t stand each other. Monsters University brings us a look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley when they weren’t exactly two peas in a pod.

Many people, mostly critics, have set their expectations for Pixar movies too high after the release of Toy Story 3. They’re a studio, they’re going to make a mistake. Their movies won’t be near-perfect or beloved each time. Deal with it. I’m here to tell you that this time around, Monsters University is deserving of being called one of Pixar’s best movies in years. I’m sure it will become a classic one day. It’s a great animated movie and a great Pixar movie. I’m not going to mention any other Pixar movie (excluding Monsters, Inc.) from here-on-out in this review. I want to review it as a Pixar movie, and not as a Pixar movie in the shadow of other, possibly better Pixar movies. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t a Pixar movie, because that just isn’t possible, and a disservice to Pixar. It also isn’t possible because their exemplary animation is present.

This is the most creative, the most charming, and the best, animated movie of the year so far. It’s heart-warming, moving, and funny. Everything here is top notch. The story features great entertainment and a whole lot of heart. The animation is beautiful, and the creativity put into this is prominent. The stakes are high during the movie; because of a situation caused by Mike and Sulley’s feud. Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), is a frightening monster who, in some ways, is reminiscent of Henry Waternoose from Monsters, Inc. Thankfully, and impressively, this Dean is a completely different character. One might get the vibe that this franchise teaches University deans and bosses cannot be trusted.

I love how Pixar can create movies that both children and adults will love. The humour isn’t always cutesy, it’s usually extremely clever. The plot is also smart and rather enthralling for an animated family feature. The last thirty (or so) minutes is an amazing final act, and one of the best and most memorable in Pixar’s filmography. Even people with the smallest bladders should hold their urine like there’s no god-damn tomorrow. This is set at a university (hence: Monsters University), which might play a part in the appeal to older audiences. This isn’t set where it is purely because of marketing to older audiences (because Monsters, Inc. definitely would be enough to bring fans back to the theatre to see this). This is set at a university because it’s the best time for these two monsters to meet. It’s when people meet their lifelong friends. It’s where their feud makes sense. This wouldn’t be set at a pre-school, mostly because their feud could be over petty things like a crayon or Teddy Graham crackers (even though those are really freaking tasty). The creators really know what they’re doing, and how to give each of these characters depth.

You better believe this little guy is the cutest thing about the movie.
You better believe this little guy is the cutest thing in the movie.

There’s a new slate of colourful and inventive characters. This university looks like a great place to go to school. (And since Mike and Sulley can attend university, it makes me think I can do it, too!) This is part coming-of-age tale because the fraternity house crew, Oozma Kappa, that Mike and Sulley fall into, are a group of misfits who cannot scare, but they do have a lot of heart. The gang, and Mike, must find it within themselves to let out their scariest and mightiest roars.

One of the main criticisms this movie might receive is that “it doesn’t need to exist”. Justin Bieber doesn’t need to exist, but some people like him. (Yes, I did just compare this to Justin Bieber. If Monsters U is going to go up against Justin Bieber, MU is going to win ten times out of ten.) If you do feel MU didn’t have to see the light of day, you’ll be glad it gets made. As a fan of Pixar, a lover of movies, and a lover of Mike and Sulley, I’m estatic this exists. This movie is so entertaining, and I love it. It’s a great opportunity to see beloved characters in a new light.

They get new layers. Mike is a student who knows everything about everything, but he hasn’t always felt like he belongs. Sulley is a student who thinks he can get by just because of his family name. We see these characters in new, more vulnerable situations. We get to see these two monsters become an inseparable pair. We also get to see how Randall Boggs came to hate this dynamic duo. We also get to see some hilarious cameos. And for those opportunities, I will always cherish this fantastic film. I will always watch this with a big smile on my face. This is an impressive prequel to Monsters, Inc., and an impressive Pixar movie.

90/100

The Green Mile (1999)

The Green MileThe Green Mile

Release Date: December 10, 1999

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse

Runtime: 189 min

Tagline: Miracles do happen

Did you knowOriginally set in 1932, the timeframe was bumped to 1935 so the movie Top Hat could be featured.

The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

The Green Mile follows one of the most miraculous stories of fantasy and mystery to ever be told. It’s filled with fantastic performances, awesome characters, a great story, great direction and superb writing.

This film is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It combines crime, drama, mystery and fantasy and makes it one of the best features I’ve ever seen. The good majority of the characters are Death Row inmates, so there is a good helping of crime in this, as each of those inmates did a horrendous crime to get in there. However, a good percentage of the inmates’ fatal sins are never exposed. The purpose of this is for when the inmates take a seat in Old Sparky, the Green Mile’s infamous electric chair, we must get emotional. We wouldn’t get as emotional as we do with a select few characters if we actually knew they were convicted rapists, like one character is revealed as in the source novel. One of the primary characters, John Coffey (“like the drink, only not spelled the same”), is actually accused of child murder and rape. There’s great emotional depth in the feature, and it’s surprising how emotional an audience can get about a few inmates dying for their sins. Both the mystery and the fantasy interlap with each other, because the real mystery is what Coffey’s gift is exactly, and what his purpose is in the dark world.

Stephen King is the one to write the original novel, and he is a great person to analyze the darkness of the world, and the darkness that fill the hearts of some people. This brings in the concept of the world only being a dark home, with people who kill others for joy, or killers who use little girls’ love to kill each other with. This is a story of some inmates who can actually feel remorse, and die for others.

Michael Clarke Duncan is the best he has ever been as John Coffey. He may be a giant, but he is such a tender soul with a heart as big as a semi-truck. The fact that this brute of a man is afraid of the dark reminds me that the world is a scary place, and he is just as vulnerable to the dangers of the universe as much as Mr. Jingles may be. Even though Coffey is in no certain danger of being squashed by Percy Wetmore.

Percy is one of the most despicable characters of the feature, but he is really a fascinating character, who is well-performed by Doug Hutchison. Percy is established as a young, ignorant man who thinks he is the only one in the world with connections, and he doesn’t understand that there are consequences with every action, something he learns the hard way. He is also hungry for power, but power is earned and not given freely. He is a young person who really, for some reason or another, wants to see a death up close. This adds a disturbing aspect to the feature, but a very necessary one. It all goes in the expertly mended mix of genres and concepts.

One of the meanest cats around town, among the prisoners, is Wild Bill (played by Sam Rockwell, who seems like he had a hell of a time). He is a sort-of comic relief, but he is also a character that is critical to the story development. Much like Percy, he is the sort of character that you might hate, but you can’t help but appreciate.

Tom Hanks delivers a solid performance as Paul Edgecomb with the help of others in the cast: David Morse as Brutus, Bonnie Hunt as Paul’s wife, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix, Sam Rockwell and Doug Hutchison as the despicable Percy Wetmore. However, no one is better than Michael Clarke Duncan. Duncan is in his finest hour with his performance as the tender John Coffey, a giant, uneducated black man who has seen too much darkness in the world.

A vast majority of the film is set in the prison, with only ones’ home life expressed are Paul’s and the warden, Hal Moores’. It actually works for it. There are amazing characters all-around, even Percy, one of the most despicable characters in all of cinema. With fine pacing as well as characters you’ll find yourself so enveloped with, this film is equal parts beautiful, emotional, and extremely engaging.

The direction is great, Darabont wonderfully brings King’s novel to life. He may have left a few things out, but he stayed faithful to the key elements. And, often enough, the reason Darabont left a few things out was to allow us to feel emotional if anything happened to them. Darabont writes in all sorts of hidden elements, even adding onto King’s novel. These changes aren’t nearly as severe as Kubrick’s to King’s The Shining, so it’s great he stayed so faithful to such a mesmerising and spell-binding story.

In a nutshell: The Green Mile is my favourite film. It is profound, disturbing, charming, engaging, sad, and funny. These amazing performers bring the characters of King’s novel to life; characters as small as the little circus mouse, Mr. Jingles, to as big as John Coffey himself.

Oh, my favourite part of my favourite film is very, very hard to choose, but that scene where John is watching his first “flicka show”, Top Hat, is up there because it’s just so charming.

100/100

Also, check out this “brief discussion” of the film I had with Joe over at his blog, Two Dude Review. This discussion really does prove it’s a movie that’s difficult to stop talking about!