Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Jerry Maguire.”
The Movie: “Jerry Maguire”
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger
Director: Cameron Crowe
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83 percent
Brown: We’ve been all over the map here in the JOE-DOWN’s Sports Month.
First, there was the blood-stained ice rink for “Goon.”
Then, the 20-by-20 squared circle of the wrestling ring in “Ready to Rumble.”
Last week, the cartoonish basketball court of “Space Jam.”
Now we go into EVERYONE’s favorite part of sports: The business side!
And in a genre that all sports fans yearn for: A rom-com!
“Jerry Maguire” was one of those misleading movies, like “Bull Durham,” where it’s marketed for guys because of sports, only for the plot to revolve around romance. It’s a somehow allowable bait-and-switch with the guy from “Top Gun.”
And, it was (REDACTED) huge in 1996, making over $270 million and was the ninth highest-grossing movie of 1996.
It also was nominated for five Academy Awards, with Cuba Gooding Jr. winning for best supporting actor. Years later, Gooding would be nominated for five Razzies for Worst Actor.
So, this is just a strange movie we’re undertaking. While I scoop up the goldfish from the office, you’ll have to give me your initial thoughts, man.
Froemming: Let me start this off by saying I hated this movie. I was seething as I watched it. The characters. The stories. The (REDACTED) nonsense of the cameos (Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains. Glenn Frey from the worst band in history, The Eagles!)
Brown: Which is funny because you saw all the music cameos. Meanwhile, I was weirded out by some of the sports cameos like Drew Bledsoe, Mel Kiper and Brent Barry, to name just a few.
Froemming: I have no idea who any of those people you just named are. Also, why the (REDACTED) is Jay Mohr in this? That also angered me. Dude has almost as punchable a face as Kid Rock.
Brown: He’s the antagonist… Doesn’t that make him perfect for his role?
Froemming: No. Antagonists should be just as compelling as the protagonist. See: Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Anyway, I am coming in hot here, so why don’t you kick off this two-hour sports movie that has zero sports for the first hour-and-forty-five minutes.
Brown: We are introduced right away to the world of sports agency, where we are introduced to Jerry Maguire (Cruise), whose career hinges off of making as much money for sports figures as possible. In the past, it was just about signing with teams. But now, sports is a commercial enterprise, where it’s all about million-dollar endorsement deals and incentives. And at the heart of it, a leach like Maguire is there, swallowing up commission.
Now, one night, a hockey player that Jerry represents gets a major concussion, his fourth, I believe. And right away, this player isn’t worried about his well-being and his family. Rather, it’s about getting on the ice or else missing out on money for playing a certain percentage of his team’s games.
This, this does not sit well with the player’s son, who sees Maguire for the lamprey he is and tells him to (REDACTED) off.
Any movie that tells Tom Cruise to do that gets at least one gold star.
Froemming: Funny thing: I told this movie to (REDACTED) off the whole time I was watching, muttered under my breath with gritted teeth.
After being told off, our hero has a breakdown and a manic moment, and since Tom Cruise doesn’t believe in bipolar disorder and psychiatry, it is chalked up to bad food he eats earlier that night. In his mania, he becomes like the Unabomber and writes a manifesto decrying the greed of capitalist society and how his company should be smaller and more attuned to the players.
This is how Karl Marx got his start, ladies and gentlemen. Jerry Maguire is a COMMIE!
Brown: Yeah, Jerry continually refers to it as a mission statement. A mission statement is supposed to be short and tells you the values and statement of a company. It’s not supposed to be a 25-page college dissertation about the evils of the bourgeoisie. And you think that talk of less money for the greater good is going to fly in Bill Clinton’s America? Ha!
Perhaps most bothersome to me is why is Kinko’s open in the dead of night to serve this manic, possibly food-poisoned, delirious yuppie who is one bad day from murdering his office Patrick Bateman-style? Go home, Jerry Cantrell!
Froemming: Are you saying Mr. Cantrell has No Excuses for working such a shift? He might be Down In A Hole financially!
Brown: I’m saying a guy that is that obsessed with work will go crazy sitting in his Angry Chair and become a Man In the Box. I Would.
Froemming: Sounds like quite the Sickman. I say Don’t Follow his career path, folks.
Anyway, after terrorizing this poor grunge-era guitarist, Jerry puts his manifesto in everyone at this big meeting in Florida’s hotel box, because he needs them to know he is fed up with all the greed.
And then he slumbers, his manic episode melts away as depression now takes over. And he awakens remembering the madness of the night before and goes into yet another panic mode.
Brown: Well, he thinks it went over OK since he walks into the hotel lobby and everyone starts giving him a standing ovation. It’s sarcastic as all hell and they’re betting he’s gone within a week because sorry Jerry, you’re a spoke on the wheel and the wheel’s gonna keep turning.
However, his insane pizza-fueled ramblings caught the attention of one person, Dorothy Boyd (Zellweger), who is crushing hard on Jerry after eavesdropping on a conversation he had in first class and after reading the manifesto.
And then Dorothy is followed by the sweetest kid in cinema history: Ray. I scheduled a doctor’s visit because this kid is so sweet my pancreas stopped working.
Froemming: Of the things my father and I have in common, the one for here is this: We both hated this kid Ray with the rage of a million fiery suns. I remember in high school my dad rented this movie and I popped into the living room and asked him if he liked it. He told me he thought it was OK, but the little kid was grating to him and he disliked the child. This memory came flashing back to me when Ray first pops on screen and my brain started to hurt and now it is a life experience my father and I share.
Brown: This may be the weirdest moment of father-son bonding I’ve heard of in a while. Here, let me get a soundtrack going for it.
Froemming: This also works:
Brown: We also get a quick peek into Jerry’s life where he and his fiance are having unrealistic sex, which every 90s businessman was having if I’m to believe “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Afterward, they are naked at the breakfast nook eating strawberries which I feel confident in saying NO ONE has ever done. Usually, there’s a shower or something afterwards.
Jerry then goes to his bachelor party where all the women in his life make a video where they all (REDACTED) on him for being incapable of intimacy. Kind of a mood killer for a party, guys.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Jerry shows up to work the next day, goes out to lunch with his protege Bob Sugar (Mohr) and gets fired in a crowded restaurant.
Even the Joker thinks that move was cold and heartless.
Froemming: Bob Sugar sounds like a great name for a porn actor.
Yes, Jerry is canned because it’s the 90s and money is everywhere and there is no sign of it slowing (until a few years later when the tech bubble burst and we entered Dick Cheney’s America) and Jerry thinks going smaller was a good idea. Dude, you are dealing with people who stumble the words “business ethics” like Eric Gordon from “Billy Madison.”
Brown: Not for a sports agent. Their gig kept getting bigger and bigger.
For example: (spoiler alert) the “big contract” Rod Tidwell gets at the end of this movie is four years, $11.2 million. Antonio Brown, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ star wideout will make $17 million THIS SEASON as part of a $68 million deal. Hell, 45 NFL wide receivers will make at least $5 million this year.
Froemming: Paying these wages is probably cheaper than getting sued when a player’s brain turns to mush at 40.
Now, Rod is the only athlete who sticks with Jerry. Why? Jerry hasn’t really gotten him great endorsement deals. Maybe Jerry tricked him into Scientology and he is trapped.
Jerry has another promising client in Frank Cushman (played by Jerry O’Connell, one of the kids from “Stand By Me” and inexplicably married to Rebecca Romijn in real life). Cushman’s dad won’t sign any contracts, but says his word is like concrete. Sure, cheap concrete the mafia uses to cut corners in construction jobs, but concrete nonetheless.
Brown: OK, quick rewind.
First, how weird is it to remember a day when Jerry O’Connell was desired by a studio, let alone anyone?
Second, and this plot hole bugged me the entire movie: After being fired at the restaurant, why was Jerry allowed to be in his office all day to call his clients when it’s clear he’s going to go into competition against the company? Any normal company would give him a box, tell him to clean out his stuff, under supervision, and be escorted out by security well before the sun went down.
But no, he’s allowed to call his clients, try to get them to switch from sunrise to sunset. Then when he finally leaves, he takes a goldfish and Dorothy with him.
Froemming: One, I agree. O’Connell did star in blockbusters like “Kangaroo Jack.”
Two, Jann Wenner was the boss of the company. As Rolling Stone is currently in shambles financially, this did not surprise me.
To quote a famous man on the hippies of the 60s:
Brown: As Jerry is leaving, we do get one of the iconic parts of the movie.
Ehh, I liked it better in “Half-Baked.”
Another thing I noticed that bugged me when Jerry is fired. You’re supposed to be a high-class sports agent, all about the money. And you wear an ill-fitting suit? What the hell, Jerry? You should be fired for that moreso than the manifesto.
Froemming: When Dorothy leaves with this unstable man who steals fish from an office, I felt someone should have called Child Protective Services on her, because this is not a person to be raising a kid. I mean, she is living with her sister already. She probably shouldn’t be walking away from a pretty nice job, let alone with a crazy person.
But alas, Jerry ropes her in with his psychotic charm and his manifesto. Jerry, as you pointed out, is kinda Patrick Bateman-like in this flick.
What is Jerry to do now? Why start his own agency. With his two clients. And boy does he (REDACTED) the bed with them.
Brown: Well, let’s delve into both players quickly.
First, the meal ticket, Cush. He’s projected as the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, which means big dollars for everyone involved since he’s also a quarterback. He comes off as a simple Texas boy who “just wants to play football.” He’s being heavily pursued by Denver and San Diego, with Denver being the frontrunner. Denver does love its Cush.
Brown: I deserve that.
Now, why 1996 Denver would be using the No. 1 pick on a QB is asinine. Know who was the Broncos’ quarterback at that time? John (REDACTED) Elway! Considered by some as the greatest NFL quarterback. The guy who won two Super Bowls for Denver in 1997 and 1998. Cush said he wanted to start right away. That (REDACTED) isn’t happening with Elway there!
And then there’s NFL veteran Rod Tidwell, who feels underpaid and underappreciated after leading the Arizona Cardinals in receiving the year before. He wants Jerry to show him the money! He wants his kwan, which is his convoluted version of respect. Problem is, he’s an undersized player who isn’t long for the league, and his ego far exceeds anything else.
I’ll say this: Gooding really got the diva attitude that wide receivers exhibited about that time. What did you think of his award-winning performance, Froemming?
Froemming: It was good. I hated the movie with every fiber of my being, but he played the role well. Deserved the award. Obnoxious as hell, but that was the character. Wasn’t a self-absorbed jerk like Jerry, just a man with a big ego.
Now we get to the day before the draft and Jerry has a plan for both. He will schmooze with Denver and play up Rod during a media event, gettin his name to all the sports reporters and whatnot. Back when sports reporting wasn’t the vomit-inducing Barstool Sports, which I hate more than this movie.
Up in the Cushman’s hotel room, Jerry is laying down his plans when the phone rings. Pretending to be the dunce star QB, Jerry finds out the Cushmans are working with Bob Sugar. Turns out the old man’s word is as good as a degree from Trump University. We also find out the old man is kinda racist, because he is angry Jerry was with a black guy in the lobby.
Brown: I don’t think Mr. Cushman was as racist as the kid in the hotel lobby who thought Rod Tidwell was Hootie. Also, you know Rod is hard for money when he also has an ill-fitting suit. Seriously, find a tailor.
Brown: So Jerry lost his meal ticket and does what any high-powered man burning the candle at both ends does: Gets drunk, goes to his co-workers house and tries to hook up with a single mother.
Have we mentioned that Jerry sucks? Because he sucks.
Dorothy also sucks at hanging lights in her house because Jerry keeps walking into the hanging light in the living room. Tom Cruise is 5-foot-7. That is WAYYYY too low for a light anywhere in the house.
While Dorothy and her sister Laurel argue over letting Jerry over, here comes Ray to hang out with a drunk-as-hell Jerry. And it’s here we see Ray spouting off more useless facts to this lush. Ray has all the answers to a question no one asked.
It’s at this point where Jerry turns into Harvey Weinstein by trying to kiss and grope Dorothy.
Froemming: Yeah, he literally gropes her and kisses her. It was awkward and horrifying. Good thing the cab showed up. Jerry is trash, man. Just a garbage person in a profession made up entirely of bottom feeders.
While this is going on, we learn that Dorothy has a job offer in San Diego, which in German means “a whale’s vagina.”
But alas, Dorothy has eyes on Jerry. This movie is like 90 percent of Renée Zellwage…Zillag.. Zellweger giving longing looks from afar to Jerry.
Brown: I was very creeped out when Jerry and Dorothy said they didn’t want some unwanted advances like Clarence Thomas. What, is Jerry also known for putting pubes on Coke cans?
At his wit’s end, Jerry is desperately trying to negotiate Rod’s new contract with the Cardinals, to the point that he’s unsuccessfully trying to call in favors with the team’s general manager. He also has a troubling conversation with Rod in the locker room where I’m pretty sure agents aren’t allowed. We had three different setting changes that leads to the famous “Help me, help you” line from Jerry. The whole time this is going on, Rod is naked.
Before watching this movie, I picked up a Little Caesar’s pizza. And like Jerry writing his manifesto, I think I was having some food poison fever dream while watching this part of the film.
Froemming: I think I am more troubled by the fact you actually went to Little Caesar’s to get a pizza than this moment. Gross, dude.
But Rod finds Jerry’s desperation amusing and sticks with him for whatever reason.
Now let’s make things more awkward when Dorothy and Jerry go on a business dinner which is really just a date that feels creepy after he went all Weinstein on her just a few nights before.
Brown: Don’t worry, Froemming. It gets weirder because Jerry goes for it again. At least Dorothy is consenting this time. Only, he’s disrobing the woman and, I assume, performing a sexual act on Dorothy while outside on the FRONT PORCH. You can literally walk a foot into the house and do this without someone walking their dog watching you two bump uglies.
Froemming: This was me at that moment:
Brown: So yeah, they have sex. And the next morning, Jerry is woken up at 7:12 a.m. thanks to the alarm clock playing AC/DC’s “For Those About To Rock.” Well, if you’re forced to get up that early, that’s a pretty kickass song to do so.
And after one hookup, Dorothy tells her sister she is in love with Jerry while he’s within earshot. Slow down. This guy is clearly garbage and you both are praying off of each other’s misery (Jerry as a guy who hates being alone and Dorothy being a lonely single mother). THIS IS NOT HEALTHY.
And in the moment where I think all will be right because she decides she needs to do best by her son and take a stable job in San Diego (nevermind that a 3-year-old kid probably shouldn’t ride in the front of a U-Haul), Jerry just blurts out “Let’s get married.”
AND THEY (REDACTED) DO IT!
Hold on, I have to grab my scream pillow.
Froemming: OK, one, after my divorce, if someone ever told me they loved me after a first date, I’m out the nearest (REDACTED) bathroom window and setting up a new life in a different city. I’ve been down that road too many times in my life.
Two, when Jerry proposed to Dorothy, I wanted this guy to show up and give the best advice Dorothy will ever get.
But no, these two are the ‘90s equivalent of Bud and Sis from “Urban Cowboy,” in that they are in a toxic relationship.
This movie would have been better with that mechanical bull Travolta fell in love with.
Brown: We watch a lot of movies that make us return to “Urban Cowboy.” That’s alarming.
What does the man of a sham marriage do after performing his nuptials? Why, abandon his new wife and continue to work with Rod. Rod rightfully has a chip on his shoulder because he’s the leading receiver on the team and the lame Phoenix media doesn’t even interview him?
However, Jerry says the reason Rod isn’t getting paid is because he doesn’t play with heart. He needs to just shut up and play. Who the (REDACTED) are you Jerry, Laura Ingraham of Fox News talking down to LeBron James?
Also, there’s talk at one point in the movie where Dorothy says Jerry is broke, but he’s about to go on a trip from LA to Phoenix to Indiana? Pretty sure flights cost money, Jerry. A lot of money.
And because this is, again, a (REDACTED) sham marriage, Dorothy is going to leave. I presume it’ll be a sham divorce.
Froemming: How they describe love is creepy. Both just used the other, and they wonder why it didn’t work? Jerry still doesn’t get it when she breaks up with him. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!
Brown: Jerry asks about Ray. What? You thought you’d get Ray? It’s her (REDACTED) kid, Jerry!
Froemming: Jerry got along better with Ray than Dorothy. Let that sink in. This marriage is as much of a sham as the marriage between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes!
Now separated, Jerry goes to the big Monday Night Football game between the Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys. Because he has no point in life other than to attend to his client.
This is Rod’s time to shine. To prove he deserves a better contract. To play with his heart rather than his mind and ego.
At first, he is getting quite the beating on the field. But, he makes a game winning catch and — seems to injure himself. We glossed over it, because who gives a (REDACTED) about business stuff, but Rod decided to be a free agent at the end of the season to see if he can get a better contract.
Brown: It’s at this point I’d like to mention that the NFL, the most violent of the four major sports, is the only one without fully guaranteed contracts. Because the world is not a just place.
Froemming: Was this a good idea? No. No it was not. It was as stupid as a man coming up with a “jump to conclusions mat.” But Jerry went with it because why the (REDACTED) not at this point?
Brown: With Arizona clinging onto playoff hopes, Rod makes the biggest play of the game, maybe his life, with a game-winning catch. But, the guy appears rocked and is motionless on the field. I mean, yeah, he did a flip, but it didn’t seem like a particularly hard landing or anything.
Everyone is freaking out. Rod’s wife is in tears talking to Jerry. Then, Rod gets up, milks the moment and puts forth the most egregious celebration in football history.
I will say I enjoyed it, just for the fact that I would love to see that at a football game since the NFL doesn’t believe in fun a lot of the time.
Finally, Rod is beloved. Fans cheer him on. The media crowds him as he walks out. And, he’s about to get his payday when, during an appearance on Roy Firestone’s show, Rod gets a four-year, $11.2 million offer.
Rod finally got his kwan, or whatever the hell he was going on about. And years later, we’d never hear from him again, as NFL films describes below.
Froemming: And Jerry and Dorothy go onto live a toxic, codependent relationship that will cause years of sadness and depression.
Brown: Yes. Jerry sprints through an empty airport to be with his wife. You know, the one he neglected and married just because he couldn’t be left alone like a Maltese puppy.
And this leads to Jerry interrupting a divorced women’s group to declare his love for Dorothy. And apparently, he had her at “Hello.”
Froemming, I’ll let you be the guy to break out the clip this reminded us of.
Froemming: Well, we do live in a cynical world, Brown.
Forget show me the money, Brown, show me the recommendations!
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: As far as rom-coms, it’s fine. We’ve actually watched ones that I’ve enjoyed more on the JOE-DOWN. But whatever, watch it.
Froemming: No. No, not at all. This movie is garbage.
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