Tom's Cruise's latest hit has landed on plenty of Top Ten lists, including
mine, and it isn't just because of his famous grin. As Jerry Maguire, Tom
is a sports agent who develops a conscience and is out of a job. When he
leaves the mega-sports management company he takes with him Renee Zellweger
as a single mom, an accountant with the cutest kid to hit the screen since
Shirley Temple. In fact, Jonathan Lipnicki is not just cute, he is bright
and adorable and all those things that grandparents say about their grandkids.
He also has a screen presence capable of standing up to Cruise's considerable
wattage. His mom, Zellweger, has a big ol' crush on Cruise which sort of
short-circuits her decision-making process. Tom/Jerry also has one client
(Cuba Gooding Jr.), an arrogant football player. This is the best black
male role and role model I have seen in a long time, and some of the credit
for that has to go to Mr. Gooding. He has the scrimmage swagger and yet
a big tender spot for his wife and extended family. He may have attitude,
but his priorities are in line.
"Jerry Maguire" is romance, ethics and football, surely an odd
combination but easily the best look at sports in years. It hits home with
everyone who ever thought that Deion Sanders got paid too much, that Michael
Irvin got off too light, that there is a dearth of integrity in sports today.
Director and screenwriter Cameron Crowe deserves a pat on the back if not
an Oscar nod for saying what everyone is thinking. He also lets the chemistry
between Cruise and Zellweger and between Cruise and Gooding play without
having to make Cruise the center of all the action. Not that anyone minds
if Cruise flashes the famous grin now and again. Rated R. Tristar.