JERRY MAGUIRE - Blu-ray review

A romantic comedy with attitude . . . and more laughs than a beer commercial.

James Plath's picture

Show me the money!

Help me . . . help you.

You complete me.

You had me at hello.

If the amount of memorable lines that make it into public usage is any indication of a film's place in pop culture (and I think it is), then "Jerry Maguire" is a contemporary classic. And if standing the test of time is another indicator, here again this little movie from Cameron Crowe ("Almost Famous") scores big. "Jerry Maguire" is as relevant today as it was in 1996, probably because the sports world hasn't changed all that much, and neither have men and women. But what stands out as perhaps the film's greatest achievement is Crowe's ability to come up with a script that somehow turns the "tastes great/less filling" beer debate into a non-issue. That is, it blends together elements of the "chick flick" with a "Wall Street"-style atmosphere of business as war and behind-the-scenes sports threads that will have at least a few guys thinking, in retrospect, Hey, this was as emotional a romance as "An Officer and a Gentleman." And it does so in slick fashion.

But when you have a guy like Cuba Gooding, Jr. strutting his stuff as Rod Tidwell, a flamboyant but underappreciated NFL wide receiver, and a couple of cute kids actually repeating the "F" word that adults sling around, it's easy to overlook the romance and be entertained by other facets of this winning film.

Tom Cruise turns in one of his best performances as a successful but insincere sports agent whose style helped build an empire for his company. But one day he has an epiphany--there's no other way to describe it--and he decides he's not happy with his place in the world. So he sits down and writes a 25+ page mission statement that details what's wrong with his profession (and company) and what could be done to change things. His motto, "Fewer Clients, Less Money," is light years away from that tastes great/less filling slogan, and so naturally he's canned. "Who will join me?" he implores an office full of workers who look at him as if he's just escaped from a mental institution . . . or is a quick phone call away from being sent to one. "I will," says Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), a single-mom secretary who's had a big-time crush on the recently engaged Mr. Maguire.

From there it unfolds, with Maguire learning a lot from his blossoming relationship with Dorothy and her son--the cute-as-a-bug Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki)--and a developing friendship with the only client he's able to retain. It soon turns into a couples thing, a two-family thing, with Tidwell's wife, Marcee (Regina King), as hilariously aggressive as her husband. But minor characters play a major role here too, with Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr), the fellow who fired Jerry, becoming both the villain and a symbol of the bottom-feeder morality that Maguire is trying to escape. The same holds true for Dorothy's sister, Laurel (Bonnie Hunt), who, in addition to being the protective older sibling is also the leader of a recently-singled women's support group . . . and another symbol. The beauty of it is, all of the film's symbolism is undercut by near-constant humor that's derived not from cheap lines but from the characters' individual personalities. As the Tidwell clan are parked in front of the TV set, for example, and everyone is shouting at Rod's game performance, his little son Tyson (Jeremy Suarez) shouts out a little in-your-face slogan that includes the phrase "mo-fo." "Why don't you be the first man in your family not to use that word, and then we'll let you live," his mom says, with love and deadpan seriousness. Those kind of lines keep this film real, and keep it moving along at a pace that makes you wonder how 138 minutes could fly by so quickly.

"Jerry Maguire" looks better than ever in Blu-ray, with only the slightest grain noticeable at times. "The Searchers" is still the miracle of catalog titles, but this HD transfer to a BD-50 (AVC/MPEG-4 codec) is solid. I noticed no compression artifacts, and though this film has traditionally looked a little "soft" in places, the picture is more vibrant than previous standard def releases. Black levels are a little stronger than in the past, though the colors in some scenes still seem undersaturated.

Sony has been running with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack lately, and in English, French, or Portuguese the audio is clear and precise. The rear effects speakers get what seems to be only random channel assignments, but in terms of timbre and sound quality the TrueHD delivers. Dialogue mostly drives this one, but when Rod Tidwell does his thing and the big game comes, there's big sound to accompany it. Even the mid-tones come across with pleasing clarity. And there are a ton of subtitle options, a testament, perhaps, to the wide appeal the film holds: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), Indonesian, Arabic, and Dutch.

Everything is here from the two-disc Special Edition except for the video commentary--or at least I couldn't find it anywhere on the box or menu screen. But the rest is here: the above-average free-wheeling commentary track with Crowe, Cruise, Gooding Jr. and Zellweger, which is spiced with jokes and asides; the equally fun "first commercial" staged by Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr. in character); three interesting clips of rehearsal footage where we see actors improvising scenes that will become a major part of the film; five deleted/alternate scenes with optional commentary (as there is on the rehearsal footage); real sports agent Drew Rosenhaus doing his hyped up primer on "How to Be a Sports Agent"; a "Secret Garden" Bruce Springsteen music video; and a weaker-than-most short making-of feature. The last three are really throwaways as far as I'm concerned, with the commentaries on the feature and bonus footage providing the real meat of these extras.

Exclusive to Blu-ray is a video montage of Jerry Maguire's mission statement, which seems more like the kind of tribute you get at the Oscars than an informative bonus feature for curious fans or would-be filmmakers. This disc is also BD-Live enabled, so on release date fans who want more can check out whatever downloads are available.

Bottom Line:
If it ever comes down to a chick flick/ guy flick argument, "Jerry Maguire" is a perfect compromise. It's a romantic comedy with attitude . . . and more laughs than a beer commercial. If guys can't meet their women halfway with this film, then they're hopeless bachelors, because "Jerry Maguire" nails male/female relationships and also does a pretty good job with the world of sports as big business.


Film Value