The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained.
The Film: Jerry Maguire (1996)
The Plot: High-powered sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) thinks he has it all figured out – cool job, sweet pad, hot fiancee – but a late night surge of inspiration hits him like a ton of bricks. Jerry has been doing it wrong. We’ve all been doing it wrong. Instead of shaking off his doubts, Jerry puts pen to paper and crafts a “mission statement.” Which he then distributes to his entire company. And then he gets fired.
Left with nothing but a starry-eyed accountant (Renee Zellweger, in her most charming role ever, hands down), her brainiac kid (Jonathan Lipnicki, forever ensuring that audiences everywhere know how much the human head weighs), and one completely batshit client (Cuba Gooding, Jr., who won a goddamn Oscar for his work as Rod Tidwell), Jerry has to figure out if his mission statement is really worth living or if he’s thrown away everything for meaningless twaddle.
The Review: There’s no getting around it: I am a Cameron Crowe fan. A follower. A devotee. How deep is my devotion? I liked Elizabethtown. Throw tomatoes now. But I said I liked it, not that I loved it or that I think it’s a good film – I know it’s not a good film, just like I know that Almost Famous is Crowe’s best film. But Jerry Maguire is my favorite Crowe film, so much so that I doubt that Crowe will ever make another film that will even stand a chance of usurping Jerry from the throne. And again, I love Cameron Crowe’s movies.
Jerry Maguire makes me cry every single time I watch it. I can count the number of other films that can do that on just one hand. If Jerry Maguire is on television, I am watching it, no matter that I own it and no matter at what point I pick the film up at. On a surface level, Jerry Maguire is a solid film because it contains the best performance of its three leads. I won’t argue on this point. I won’t even hear it. Tom Cruise has never been more vulnerable, Renee Zellweger has never been more adorable, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. has never been more entertaining. Whatever chemistry Crowe cooked up for the film works, and works magically.
The film is a journey story – Jerry’s journey from fantastic dickery to learning how to be an actual human being. It’s also a fall from grace tale, but with a twist – Jerry’s fall is cushioned by the Boyds and the Tidwells, and it’s about Jerry figuring out that that’s not some consolation prize, that it’s actually the best thing that could possibly happen to him. Sure, fucking around with douchebags like Frank Cushman, Bob Sugar, and Avery Bishop seems cool at the time, but it’s a soul-depleting enterprise of the highest (lowest?) order. Those people just sap your heart and soul, man.
Jerry Maguire is also fantastically adept at reaffirming that family is the most important thing in life. Not the money, not the fame, not the glory – family. Few films accomplish that with such sneaky aplomb and without being hit-ya-over-the-head cheesegasms.
Oh, and it’s also funny and filled with Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen songs. Can’t beat it.
But why spend 139 minutes watching this film when you only have 301,168 minutes left to live?
With only a finite amount of time left to live – really live – it will do you well to find your own mission statement and live it. Hell, should you go insane and torpedo your professional and personal life because of that mission statement, your fallout will be significantly less than Jerry’s. Who cares about paying people or health insurance when you’re going to die in six months anyway? And, you know, there’s lessons here about the importance of family, being honest with yourself, changing your life, picking up the pieces, and starting over. Maybe that will come in handy for you. Soon.
Also, Cruise has five films set to debut past the End Times (snort, chuckle, tee hee) and one (Jack Reacher) opening on December 21st itself – don’t waste your time worrying about those (or even Rock of Ages, eeesh), watch this one and wrap up your life with the knowledge that Cruise really can act. And not be weird while doing it.