Jerry Maguire (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
I were an actor, I'd work for Cameron Crowe for free. The people in
his films have never looked better or acted better at any time. Take
this film: Renee Zellweger, Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding - all three
delivered performances that would not have been predictable from their
previous careers, and have never since been duplicated. Cruise got an
Oscar nod for Magnolia, and he was impressive in that, but that role
was only one the very far extremes of the emotional spectrum. He was
cynical and aloof, then all of a sudden he broke down into tears. In
this movie, he hit some extremes, but he covered all the shades and
nuances in between. More important, there was no technique on display,
no rhetorical flourishes. He was human and natural. As for Zellweger,
Crowe made the camera bathe her in love, and drew genuine
expressiveness from her.
Crowe is so good with actors that in Almost Famous he almost made Jason Lee not totally suck! Jeez, I wonder what Crowe could do with Anna Nicole Smith.
a helluva good movie. It isn't new wave or hip or intellectual. It is
a good movie in the sense that Billy Wilder made good movies for Bill
Holden and Jack Lemmon, filled with people of flesh and marrow,
learning something about life in an interesting context. Jimmy Stewart
could come back as a young man and step right into Crowe's movies.
Tom Cruise fits somewhere in between, developing his own niche, not quite as ruggedly masculine as Holden, but more sexually charismatic than Lemmon or Stewart.
The basic premise is that a wheeler-dealer sports agent without a sincere bone in his body hates what he has become as a person, has a revelation, and transforms himself into an independent full-service agent with a hands-on approach. After a few twists and turns, he ends up with only one client willing to bet on him - a feisty, cocky undersized wide receiver with a reputation as clubhouse trouble.
Each helps the other become better at what he does and at what he wants to become.
|Some reviewers wrote this up as a romantic comedy, but I don't buy that. The love between Zellweger and Cruise wasn't the most important part of the film at all. If it is a love story, it is about the love between the agent and his renegade client, how they broke through each other's barriers and changed one another. Cruise is eventually able to love Zellweger simply because he learns to stop thinking about himself.|
|But no matter how you classify the
film, it is a good one about people learning to be people of
substance. Apparently, Crowe heard that phrase from his mom (McDormand
says it to Crudup in Almost Famous), and it stuck with him. Both
Cruise and Gooding need to cast aside the things that keep them from
becoming the men of substance they are capable of becoming.
If their ultimate success is a little too pat, and the emotions a bit too manipulated, the journey there is honest enough to redeem the film completely. As usual with Crowe, the script is full of real people doing real things and saying interesting things to each other. As in Almost Famous, Crowe shows the struggle to hold on to one's values in the middle of big-time fame polluted by big-time money.
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