I was recently at an event where I was meeting some members of one of my favorite pro sports teams, and I was having a nice conversation with one of the newer players. But it's not like that should be a surprise to me, because I'm a fan of lesser popular sports on the American sports scale, in large part because the athletes of those sports are far more approachable and modest than the run of the mill football or basketball player. As it turns out, the guy I was talking to wasn't even making half of the money I was; he was playing for the love of the game, and the money will sort itself out. Isn't that how athletes should be? It's with that little powder keg of discussion that allows me to segue into revisiting Jerry Maguire. Cameron Crowe, who wrote and directed the film, possessed experience writing quirky films that just happened to have elements of comedy and romance in them, without being full-fledged romantic comedies. His previous life as a teenaged staff writer for Rolling Stone afforded him the opportunity to have music as the background of many of those films (like Say Anything and Fast Times at Ridgemont High), but he used sports as the backdrop for this one.
The title character is played by Tom Cruise Oblivion), a sports agent in a high-powered firm who continues to support and advocate for his client, sometimes at all physical costs to the athlete. In a moment of revelation, he thinks that the firm can do better, be more human, as it were, and one night writes and publishes a manifesto of sorts that illustrates how to do this. Of course, the firm's main motivation is to be profitable and not nice, so he is unceremoniously dumped, and he is unable to retain his clients either, except for one, a middle-of-the-pack football player named Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr., Selma) whose mouth appears to have more talent than he does. He also has Dorothy (Renee Zellweger, Bridget Jones's Baby), a secretary who read Jerry's memo, enjoyed it and leaves the firm with him. From there, each of the male characters seem to have separate revelations from their work; Rod's willingness to take a hit or two quietly elevates his status within the NFL, and Jerry's personal adaptation into a relationship, where he had previously feared commitment, but was almost addicted to companionship that was far from serious.
Consider the scene where Dorothy's son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki, Stuart Little) asks to come into the bedroom where Jerry and Dorothy are talking about Jerry's thoughts on a dinner with Rod and his wife Marcee (Regina King, Ray). Dorothy asks him to wait, Jerry basically invites him in, and Ray comes in and plops down in the middle of the bed. Jerry's trying to avoid his feelings, so when the time comes in the film to celebrate, Jerry doesn't have anyone to celebrate with. This fact dawns on him just as clearly as the moment to write his memo did, and he acts accordingly. Ultimately, while Crowe's story might not deliver the "anti-greedy sports athlete" message as I might have inferred earlier, the underlying message is the same. Never forget what's important, and never forget what makes you into the person or athlete you are. It's the people you're around, and the love of the game that you possess, that drives you into the positions that you attain. That's a lesson we could all learn from.
A real quick word on all of the transcendent stuff from the film, like the famous lines, and Gooding's performance. While "show me the money!" was a funny line and all, I believe it was the late Gene Siskel who helped describe the sequence it was shown in with much greater clarity. The utterance is a chance for Jerry to evolve from being cold and calculated, always looking to spin something no matter how silly it is, to someone who acts with more feeling and impulse. When Dorothy says "you had me at hello," it's because of the gesture that Jerry made, not because of the speech he delivers afterward. It's those moments that make Jerry Maguire still watchable after so many years, along with the charm and wit that Crowe has been known for delivering for over two decades now.
For the film's 20th anniversary, a new transfer based on a 4K remaster was included in this release. I don't have the old disc anymore for a comparison but this release is very good. Film grain is visible through the film and colors are reproduced vividly without noise or saturation problems. Image detail is the star on this, with things like Tidwell's tattoo being far more clear when viewing. Fabric textures and wood grain is even discernible on this too, along with stubble on Cruise's face. It looks excellent.
There is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround track which replaces the TrueHD one on the last release. The music sounds great from the jump and the songs through it sound clear and possess solid dynamic range. Immersion in the events during the games and on the last one include channel panning and possess a better than expected level of immersion. I don't remember how the first film sounded but this one is solid listening to.
So all of the extras from 2008 release return for this release, and the picture-in-picture commentary with Crowe, Cruise, Gooding and Zellweger restored for this release.
The new release includes a couple of things: "We Meet Again" (38:54) is a new retrospective look at the film, which includes a lot of footage and interviews from the time of the production. Crowe includes interviews then and now and the piece recalls how the film came together and the NFL's participation in it. The initial casting ideas are shared and the evolution to the actors they landed on shown. There is a ton of on -et footage as the cast talks about one another and the film, and it's a nice enough piece. More deleted/extended scenes are here with an introduction by Crowe (20, 55:38) and there are some things here that extend the Kush character a little more, but they're mostly extended scenes, with an alternate ending. A photo gallery is the last thing on the disc. Along with a digital copy of the film, there is a CD that houses the soundtrack, and a booklet that includes the oft-recalled ‘memo' and an introduction to this new release by Crowe.
This new incarnation of Jerry Maguire includes an excellent transfer and an OK lossless track, and if one were to upgrade on the past release, it would be pretty much for and transfer, as the extras don't provide much additional justification either. However, if you are a fan of the film who has never purchased a version on Blu-ray, this has got to be as definitive a version as you're going to get. In sum, if the transfer is worth it to existing holders of the film, go for it. For first-timers? Easy buy.