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JERRY MAGUIRE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Regina King, Jonathan Lipnicki, Bonnie Hunt, Kelly Preston, Jay Mohr
Director:  Cameron Crowe
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  139 Minutes
Release Date:  September 9, 2008

“Show me the money!” – Rod Tidwell

“And that line has haunted me ever since.” – Cuba Gooding Jr.

Film ****

Some people called Jerry Maguire a comedy, others a sports movie.  Some said it was a buddy story, some said it was a romance.  I’ve always described it as one of the most beautifully optimistic films I’ve ever seen.  And you know what?  We’re all right.

I, too, laugh at the humor, get caught up in the love story, and feel for the characters every step of the way.  But for me, what makes Jerry Maguire one of the best films of the 90s is its unerring message of faith.  Here is a guy who loses almost everything by making a stand for what he believes in, and has to start again from square one in order to see whether or not his convictions are worth anything.  It becomes a romance because of a woman who sees in him the man he wants to be…and risks her future because she believes he can be it.

Jerry (Cruise) is a sports agent at the top of his game.  He makes his money wheeling and dealing rich juicy contracts for his athletes, both in their sports and with endorsements and other opportunities.  He works for one of the biggest companies representing sports stars anywhere, and he was a guy who helped make it what it is.

But the story doesn’t start with a man clawing his way to the top of his position.  It starts with a man at the top, who looks around and knows that somewhere along the way, things have gone very awry.  He is going through a turning point, and the exclamation point for it comes in the form of a hockey player’s son, who, in a hospital hallway, tells Jerry like it is in two succinct words.

In a moment of catharsis, Jerry has a moral epiphany, writes a mission statement and submits it to everyone in his company.  In a moment of clarity that comes too late, however, he realizes that his “fewer clients, less money” philosophy might end very badly for him.  He’s right…he’s fired shortly thereafter.

In a fast past series of humiliation, Jerry finds himself stripped of all but one of his clients, the brash, no-nonsense Rod Tidwell (Gooding), a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals who has maybe one last chance to land the contract that will take care of him and his family for life.  Jerry walks the walk of shame out of the office, but is joined by Dorothy Boyd (Zellweger), who has her own moment of clarity.  She read Jerry’s mission statement, and believes enough in him to walk toward the uncertain sunset with him.

From that point on, it’s three people united by an uncertain, yet resolved faith.  Rod begins to play out the last season of his contract, risking the hope of his future against not getting injured.  Dorothy begins to fall in love with Jerry.  Jerry enters into a relationship with Dorothy that could be a perfect loving one, if he weren’t still so unsure of himself.

Like life, their story is fraught with possibilities and disappointments, love and heartbreak…and like life, it’s a journey well spent.  Cameron Crowe is that rare kind of writer/director that can make hope seem real instead of hokey, and who’s willing to put it through the ringers in order to see it come out better on the other side.

This is an amazing cast, too…three terrific central performances.  Tom Cruise delivered the performance of his career and garnered his second Oscar nomination as Jerry.  He’s completely unafraid to slowly strip away the swagger we associate with Cruise and replace it with hesitance and vulnerability…he earns every moral victory for his character.  Renee Zellweger, who got robbed of a nomination, showed the world that she was a talent to be reckoned with.  Her star has been rising ever since, but I’ll probably always think of her warm, loving portrayal of Dorothy when I think of her.  And, of course, Cuba Gooding Jr., who rocked the film playing Rod and then rocked the world with his Oscar acceptance…he teased the audience at first by making it seem that his character was going to be little more than a stereotypical athlete, but won filmgoers over by investing an amazing amount of heart into Rod.  His victory became our victory…and Cuba’s victory on Oscar night became our victory, too.

Two more cast members deserve recognition:  the amazing Regina King, who played every sports agent’s worst nightmare, the devoted player’s wife…and brought as much heart to her role as Cuba did to his, and young Jonathan Lipnicki, perhaps the only male who could have stolen the female audience’s attention away from Tom Cruise.

But give Cameron Crowe all the credit for bringing everything together into an amazing story about love, courage and redemption.  Many filmmakers would have been content to tell the story of a hungry, slick agent who suddenly finds his heart, but Crowe tells the story of a hungry, slick agent who suddenly finds his heart and then dares to ask, “what happens next?”

Jerry Maguire is a movie I love with all my heart and soul.  I never get tired of watching it or of sharing a couple of hours with some terrific characters who found it in themselves to be extraordinary.

Video ***

This Blu-ray offering finally corrects some of the issues I thought were prominent on the DVD releases.  There seems to be less grain and noticeable texture this time around, and I couldn't see compression evident in the backgrounds.  Some of the color schemes still seem a tad muted here and there, but detail leven and contrast are improved overall.

Audio ***1/2

This is a lively, dynamic TrueHD mix that offers crisp, clean dialogue, terrific music, and plenty of open stage sounds during crowd scenes, football games, and so on.  The .1 channel accents the songs and the action.  The mix is very good, well balanced, and keeps you in the heart of the story…high marks.

Features ***1/2

The true highlight is a group commentary with Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renee Zellweger.  I can’t say that it’s one of the most informative Cameron Crowe commentaries I’ve ever heard, but it is one of the most fun.  It’s clear these four stars have remained friends since making this movie, and they seem to have a blast watching the film together…it’s almost like sitting in on a cast party!  I personally enjoyed how the guys kept trying to get Renee to do a little Bridget Jones for them.  Funny stuff!

I do miss the video commentary that was included before...with Blu-ray's picture in picture capability, why not have it here?  But still, there are deleted scenes and three rehearsal reels with option commentary by Crowe and his film editor.  Included in the rehearsals is the evolution of the “show me the money” scene…priceless!  Also included is the famous but rarely seen Rod Tidwell Reebok commercial, Bruce Springsteen’s video for “Secret Garden” (love that song), a making-of-featurette, the full text of Jerry Maguire’s mission statement, and a short “how to be a sports agent” featurette with Drew Rosenhaus.

Summary:

Shony shows us the money this time around with this Blu-ray edition of Jerry Maguire.  If you love this movie, it's worthwhile to retire your old copy and snatch this high definition one up with both hands.

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