Movie Review - Jerry Maguire
Cruise's winning play

'Jerry Maguire' scores with funny performances and likable story

BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jerry Maguire A conscience can be so inconvenient. Especially when it strikes a man as shallow as Jerry Maguire.

Tom Cruise plays Jerry, a hard-charging corporate sports agent with no clue what's in his own heart -- and gives a revealing performance when he sets about charting his unexplored inner self.

Jerry's career and life are built around doing what is expected instead of what is right. He's so emotionally indecisive that he drops a plan to propose to his girlfriend when she calls him a klutz, then pops the question in front of a hotel lobby full of athletes because he can't imagine ruining a showy moment that his assistant has staged for the couple.

Some uncomfortable moments remind him what a cold, money-grubbing world he inhabits, and he impulsively writes a manifesto about the business, with ideas like ''Fewer clients, less money.''

Within days, he is fired and stripped of his athletes. When he leaves the agency, only a single-mom accountant (Rene Zellweger) and one loudmouthed football player, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), go with him.

Dorothy the accountant and her son Ray (the impishly adorable Jonathan Lipnicki) figure into Jerry's rocky search for the meaning of love and loyalty, while Tidwell serves as the test case for Jerry's new theories. It's a prickly relationship that works because Rod keeps surprising Jerry, and us.

One of the things I liked best about this movie is the quality of the women's characters. Few Hollywood movies, particularly showcases for mega-stars like Mr. Cruise, bother to create female roles that go beyond slender stereotypes.

In Jerry Maguire, writer-director Cameron Crowe gives meaningful dialogue not only to Dorothy, but to her skeptical sister (played by the wonderful Bonnie Hunt), to Tidwell's wife (Regina King), even to members of a recurring divorcee-support group who could easily have been used for nothing but cheap laughs.

School for Creative and Performing Arts alumni Todd Louiso has a short but funny appearance as Dorothy's jazz-loving nanny (''I prefer 'child technician.' '').

The movie is dense with cameos by sports figures, such as broadcaster Roy Firestone, Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman and Bengals running back Ki-Jana Carter, and features a tangy subplot surrounding 1995's No. 1 NFL draft pick.

The movie is flawed by some fake moments. (If your child disappeared in an airport, would you stand still and chat quietly with a co-worker?) But the performances, particularly by Mr. Cruise, are so good that the frailties are easier to forgive.

MOVIE REVIEW
Jerry Maguire
***
(R; profanity, sexuality, brief violence) Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rene Zellweger, Bonnie Hunt. 140 minutes. At National Amusements, Showplace 8.