This movie is rated R. All those under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
This film came out at the perfect time. Being released in 1996 and still playing in 1997, it can be called the best film in both years. There is one reason many people will be saying this - the acting, not the eye-popping action or the twisting plot, but for the first time in a while, the acting.
Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, and Cuba Gooding Jr. created a superb movie out of a decent script and your average plot. Tom Cruise perfectly plays the part of a 35-year-old sports agent going through a mid-life crisis. He is managing the top athletes in the world until he realizes what a jerk he has become. He writes a plan for his multi-million dollar company, which includes downsizing and becoming more personal. Everyone seems to love it except for management, who fires him.
Luckily, there is a chance for the main character. Jerry loses all the athletes he represented except Rod Tidwell, one of the NFL's premier receivers. With this building block he proposes to make a new, better company, small and more personal (as he explained in his plan). Jerry tries to convince his co-workers to come with him, but finds that everyone who loved his idea is afraid to stand up to management. Only one person has the courage to go with him - Dorothy Boyd (played by Renee Zellweger). She joins him because she is inspired by his plan. They struggle to get by with just Rod but they work hard and soon their relationship turns romantic.
This average plot turns into a great movie mostly thanks to the main character. Tom Cruise is terrific. He depicts perfectly a man who tries to make something of his life but looks back wondering if he made the right choice. Cruise shows Jerry's emotional ups and downs in a way that the audience feels both bad and happy for him in the same scene.
Renee Zellweger is also terrific. She plays a young single mother, who struggles to make the right decisions for her and her six-year-old son.
Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Rod Tidwell, a cocky, arrogant, egotistical jerk, who felt he was the best in the NFL, which he was. But he is so stuck on himself, he can't see that no one offered him a big contract because of his selfishness. He really makes the movie by giving the third great acting performance.
The film also got a big boost from the minor characters. Dorothy's older sister, who lives with her, provides a lot of the film's comedy, and always gives the crowd a laugh. Also, Dorothy's six-year-old son is very funny. He becomes Jerry's best friend. His innocence provides additional jokes.
As for the plot, it wasn't bad. The problem was it just wasn't great. Without the great acting, there still would have been a good movie, just not one you remember for years. "Jerry Maguire" is the perfect movie for anybody looking for a good time. There is plenty of humor, sports and a love story all rolled into one
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.