Reviewed by: Cheryl Sneeringer
“Jerry Maguire” could potentially have been an excellent film. It has all the elements we love to see in a movie—great acting, admirable characters, exciting sports scenes, poignant drama, an incredibly cute kid, and a tender love story. Unfortunately, the writers chose to include dozens of uses of the F-word (and other foul language), lots of male nudity (the locker room variety, photographed from the rear), and a particularly disgusting sex scene. It has so much that is offensive to Christians that I cannot recommend it, even for adults. However, when the movie comes to network TV, with the sex scenes eliminated and the milder language dubbed in, it will be well worth viewing.
Tom Cruise is outstanding as a slick, fast-talking sports agent who has built a very large, very successful agency, but realizes that he and his firm have lost sight of the welfare of their athletes. Conscience-stricken, he writes a 25-page mission statement, calling on his firm to focus on people rather than profits—to handle fewer athletes, and to give each of them more attention.
Although his colleagues applaud and seemingly affirm his noble ideals, he is fired within a few days. He leaves the firm, taking with him the only employee who would stand by him, a struggling young single mother named Dorothy, who has admired him from afar. His clients all desert him, all but one—an aging, arrogant, complaining football player who long ago slipped from star status.
The beauty of this movie is that it affirms noble choices. We admire Jerry Maguire for his efforts to rise above selfishness and to uphold his clients' best interests. Dorothy is attracted to him not because he is irresistibly handsome, nor because he is wealthy and powerful, but because he has chosen to be good. She says to her sister, “I love him for the man he wants to be, and for the man he “almost” is.” She holds him to the high standards he would like to attain.
The character development in this movie is seamless and very believable. Influenced by Dorothy’s virtue, Jerry grows into a man of character and heart. He, in turn, deepens his relationship with his client, and is able to influence his client’s growth as an athlete and as a team player.
The love story between Jerry and Dorothy is tender and sweet. Regrettably, the writers chose to include premarital sex (on the first date, yet), but it is refreshing that the love relationship is not grounded in sexual passion, but in the nobler virtues of admiration, loyalty, and responsibility. Dorothy’s young son, Ray, played by five-year-old Jonathan Lipnicki, is an adorable scene-stealer. In one of the great lines of the movie, single mom Dorothy says to her divorced sister, “I’m not trying to get a man; I’m trying to raise a man.” That is a keeper.
This movie could have been made without the immorality, without the nudity, and without the foul language—nothing would have been lost—and it would have been uplifting and as memorable as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is sad to see a movie with such potential so polluted and defiled. What a shame. Frank Capra, we miss you!
Year of Release—1996