|Jerry Maguire (Special Edition)|
|DVD Romantic Drama|
|Written by Tara O'Shea|
|Tuesday, 30 April 2002|
I'm not a Tom Cruise fan. I admit this openly and without shame. It may simply be because I will never forgive him for making my ears bleed with his attempts at an Irish accent in "Far and Away." But I love "Jerry Maguire" despite Cruise, and I give all the credit to writer/director Cameron Crowe for making me give a damn about Jerry Maguire, a sports agent who grows a conscience overnight, and then spends an entire movie figuring out what he's supposed to do with his newly-discovered humanity.
It helps that I really do care about single mother Dorothy Boyd (played with charm and spunk by the luminous Renee Zellweger), her almost-too-cute-for-words son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki), sardonic older sister Laurel (Bonnie Hunt), and the Tidwells (Cuba Gooding Jr., in the performance which won him an Academy Award, and the underrated yet utterly fabulous Regina King). Jay Mohr is brilliant as Bob Sugar, a sports agent completely devoid of humanity, and Kelly Preston rounds out the cast as Maguire's shark-in-nylons fiancée.
The strength of the film lies in a script which plays with moviegoers' heads, turning standard cliches upside-down to great effect. The first example is that "Jerry Maguire" begins where an '80s film would have ended, as the shallow lead character has an epiphany and gains depth and compassion, and continuing with a love plot in which the characters marry before they actually fall mutually in love. The juxtaposition of Rod and Marcy Tidwell's marriage -- which is one of the strongest relationships in the film -- with Jerry and Dorothy's sham of a marriage is at the core of "Jerry Maguire." Crowe appears to be taking great delight in deconstructing the lead characters' relationship, and rebuilding it along realistic and solid lines after spending the first half of the movie going through all the standard movie tropes of a couple falling in love too quickly and too easily. By the time Cruise utters the now famous "You complete me" and Zellweger counters with "You had me at 'hello,'" you buy these two people together precisely because they were such an imperfect fit before.
Visually, the transfer is good, with the warm, almost sepia tone of the film preserved with no edge enhancement. Colors are saturated, fleshtones consistantly good, and there are almost no noticeable print flaws. The sound mix is solid, making great use of the surrounds for the soundtrack, and dialogue is crisp and clear. As a dialogue-driven movie, the 5.1 mix is solid and contains no surprises, but it is used effectively, particularly in the football game sequences near the end of the film.
Animated menus designed to ape Jerry's office desk, complete with post-it notes, are slightly difficult to navigate. But the features are well marked, once you get the hang of the menu design. The two-disc set is loaded with extras, starting with an entertaining audio commentary featuring Crowe and actors Cruise, Gooding, and Zellweger. However, the video commentary (which can be found on the second disc) makes the audience wonder if knowing they were being taped inhibited the actors commentary -- particularly Cruise, who is wearing shades and a hat as if he's afraid of being recognized. The commentary track contains more mutual admiration society banter than is really necessary (especially when compared to other Crowe commentaries such as the one for "Almost Famous"), making one wish that more time had been spent actually commenting on the film itself. However, all in all, the track does offer some good insight into the film, and the years of research that led to Crowe making "Maguire." Of particular interest is the fact that former breakdancer Gooding performed all of Rod Tidwell's touchdown dance, including spinning on his head and flipping.
Other extras include a making-of featurette, the surreal "Drew Rosenhaus: Sports Agent" footage which Cameron shot while researching the film (which seems to be the basis for the character Bob Sugar), deleted scenes with commentary (such as an amazing uninterrupted take of Jay Mohr as he steals every last one of Jerry's clients, ad-libbed from notes by Crowe), Rod Tidwell's first commercial, a music video for Bruce Springsteen's "Secret Garden" and a text document of Jerry's memo, as well as the ubiquitous trailers.
For fans of the film, and fans of Crowe's work, the two-disc set is a must-own, well worth the price.