"Jerry Maguire" is director Cameron Crowe's massive 1996 hit - the director's most popular film after a series of highly-regarded prior films that were cult (but not box office) hits. After helming wonderful romantic comedies with great characters ("Singles", "Say Anything"), "Jerry Maguire" has great characters, dialogue and scenes, but Crowe tried to make some sort of romantic epic - at 139 minutes, "Jerry Maguire" could have benefitted from being a tighter picture.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. The film stars Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire, a hotshot sports agent who suddenly finds himself disturbed at the state of affairs in his business. He spends all night writing an immense memo stating that the company should focus more on the individuals rather than trying to get as many clients as possible and giving them less attention. The rest of his company cheers his entrance next day, but there's a sinking feeling underneath his comments; eventually, it becomes apparent that the company doesn't share his feelings, leading to the famed "who's coming with me?" sequence, which was wonderfully parodied in Tamara Davis' "Half Baked".
Classic moments are the order-of-the-day in "Jerry Maguire" and, while these sequences (such as the "Show Me the Money!" moment) stick out, they're handled in an energetic way by Crowe that fuels the sequence. The "Show Me" sequence not only has the dialogue between Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Cruise, but the dwindling number of clients left available and holding on the phone adds an amount of tension and another dimension to the sequence. Many of the sequences in the film merge music and the sequence together, with the tunes complimenting the scenes - as they do in most of Crowe's tune-heavy films - perfectly.
The film has a fair amount of things up in the air at once - most notably, Cruise's Maguire battling to protect and promote his remaining client, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr. in an Oscar-winning role) and falling for Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger). The performances are very good - Cruise is at his most winning in a role that shows more range than most of his performances, while Zellweger is nice, but not terribly engaging - her and Cruise really don't share that much chemistry, but she is able to sell the moments well enough. Gooding, Jr. is loud and funny, but he also has a nice amount of subtle moments where he shows that he really does care about more than being "shown the money!". Technical credits are also excellent, with Janusz Kaminski's beautiful, warm photography making the film lovely to watch.
Still, there's that one glaring flaw that I find with this movie: the length. While there are moments in this movie that hit their notes perfectly, Crowe seems too happy with his own material; the great moments would be served better had they been not in-between some stretches that seem unnecessary, especially later in the middle. I like this movie - very much so at times, but I still don't think it's Crowe's best (which, in my opinion, is still "Almost Famous").
VIDEO: "Jerry Maguire" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is not flawless, but it's certainly an above-average effort that looks terrific, showing off Oscar-winner Janusz Kaminski's beautiful, warm cinematography quite well. Sharpness and detail were excellent throughout, as the picture looked consistently crisp and well-defined, with no instances of noticable softness.
The presentation did have some minor flaws, but they really never became very bothersome, nor did the small flaws add up to irritation. There is a bit of slight noise now and then, but the picture doesn't offer much of anything in the way of print flaws - a couple of specks are the total of wear on the print used. Edge enhancement is absent and only a slight trace or two of pixelation was seen.
The film's very warm color palette was also well-presented here, appearing nicely saturated and vivid, with no smearing or other problems. Black level was solid, while flesh tones accurate and natural. Overall, this is a terrific effort from the studio. Subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
SOUND: When I think of a dialogue-driven movie that isn't going to require a lot of surround use, "Jerry Maguire" is one of the movies that comes to mind. Listening to this DVD edition for the first time, I was surprised that the film's audio, while not agressive, is still a top-notch presentation with a lot to like. Music plays an important role in all of director Crowe's films and this one is certainly no different. The music has terrific presence without getting in the way of dialogue or sound effects; it is also delivered with excellent clarity and often reinforced by the rear speakers. The surrounds also provide a fair amount of ambience; while they are not consistently employed for sound effects, I liked their appropriate use - it added nicely to the experience. Audio quality was excellent; the music sounded great across the front soundstage, coming through warmly and with excellent clarity. There wasn't a lot of deep bass present, nor did there really need to be. Dialogue and sound effects both came through crisply and sounded natural.
MENUS: A montage of scenes from the movie leads into both of the main menus, which are also animated and boast music in the backgrounds.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Cameron Crowe, actress Renee Zellweger, actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. and actor Tom Cruise. The second disc contains a "video commentary"; we watch the participants as they watch the movie, with a small box below showing the film itself. Cruise looks hilarious with a fisherman's hat and shades, as if he's running from photographers. As for the commentary, it's an okay (at best) track, but given that Crowe's other commentaries, such as the "Say Anything" track with John Cusack and Ione Skye, were much more insightful, this one comes off as dissapointing. The stars and Crowe are talkative, but it's unfortunate that Crowe doesn't seem to take the lead, as his intelligent and often very funny discussions of his films and filmmaking in general have made his previous tracks great listens. The three stars often seem to get a bit too caught up in watching the film - while they occasionally do provide some discussion of what went on behind-the-scenes, there are fairly sizable patches where they are either laughing along with the film or silently watching - or simply saying how good a scene or each other is. Overall, no one really seems to have that much to say about the movie, other than they all really liked it (which is okay, because it is a genuinely good movie, but that doesn't make for much of a commentary).
Deleted Scenes: 5 deleted scenes are presented with optional commentary from director Cameron Crowe and editor Joe Hutching.
Rehersal Footage: 3 video clips are shown of the actors preparing for their scenes, including Gooding, Jr. and Cruise doing the "Show Me The Money!" sequence.
How To Be A Sports Agent: Real-life agent Drew Rosenhaus offers a short, but funny, interview where he goes through all the details of his day-to-day life, showing the amount of equipment he has to travel with to be prepared for any problems that could occur.
Also: A short, but informative and interesting "making of" featurette; text of the "mission statement"; Bruce Springsteen "Secret Garden" video; photo gallery; filmographies and trailers for "Maguire" and "As Good as It Gets".
Note: There was a fair amount of discussion (I believe in an interview done with Movieline magazine, among other places) that a rehersal scene with Courtney Love (who was apparently trying out for the Zellweger part) was going to be included. Unless I simply missed it, it hasn't been included, which is a bummer.
Final Thoughts: "Jerry Maguire" is a great movie that just travels beyond its borders. Still, while overlong, it does have its share of classic moments and fine performances. Columbia/Tristar's new Special Edition offers excellent audio/video and some moderately good supplements. Recommended.