Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire” inspired the career of another filmmaker – A personal journey
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1) Tom Cruise stars as sports agent Jerry Maguire. (2) Renee Zellweger, as single mother Dorothy Boyd and her charming son Ray, played by Jonathan Lipnicki.
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4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 1996, R for language and sexuality; Streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: The best supplemental material remains on the accompanying Blu-ray, but the recent episode of Alec Baldwin’s podcast “Here’s the Thing,” with friend and writer/director Cameron Crowe is a fun listen.
A FEW YEARS ago, the infamous mission statement sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) wrote in the middle of the night, “The Things We Think and Do Not Say,” appeared online in all of its 25-page glory. When writer/director Cameron Crowe made the manifesto a plot point in his script, he didn’t settle for writing a few select quotes for Maguire’s character, he actually wrote the whole thing.
This dedication is one of many reasons Crowe is a cinematic hero of mine. I’m lucky enough to know him a little, so I reached out to ask him about his “Mission Statement” just after the release of “Jerry Maguire” on 4K – part of the six-film Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD: Volume One Collection.
“I wanted to approach it like ‘method writing,’” said Crowe in the personal dispatch.
“So I ordered some bad pizza, and stayed up all night on coffee and wrote it. It’s from the heart, with no filter, and it is filled with typos. In other words, completely embarrassing. The side-benefit was when the actors had scenes with the Mission Statement, it was fun to watch as some of them casually opened it up and started reading it. [Holy shit, there’s actually a Mission Statement] they would say. So it was never a prop, it was always real in the movie. I think it even has coffee stains on it...”
– Cameron Crowe, writer/director/producer
(1) Rivals Jerry Maguire and the diabolical Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr) during a meeting. (2) Maguire stays up all night in his hotel room to produce the “Mission Statement” during a sports agent's junket. (3&4) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) makes his agent say, "Show me the money."
The complete “Mission Statement” is included in the pages devoted to “Jerry Maguire” within the Columbia Classics coffee table book featured in the 4K box set.
In December of 1996 as “Jerry Maguire” was hitting theaters, Crowe released a selection of his journal entries in Rolling Stone Magazine chronicling the making of the film. Crowe got his start as a 16-year-old writer for the publication in the 1970s, and “Jerry Maguire” was crowned by the magazine as one of the 1990s best films. The entries became an absolute treasure trove of stories for someone like me – an aspiring filmmaker growing up in Virginia Beach, Va.
I must have read Crowe’s piece twenty times, enamored by his tales of driving through rainy Los Angeles streets with Tom Cruise in the passenger seat, on a mission to convince legendary director Billy Wilder (“The Apartment,” “Some Like it Hot”) to appear in his film as sports agent Dicky Fox. Wilder declined, but Crowe ended up publishing a book of interviews he conducted with his hero, the essential "Conversations with Wilder" in 1999.
The part was written for Tom Hanks, who was a little too old for the role after Crowe spent nearly four years working on his masterful screenplay. When the script came Cruise's way, he insisted on reading it aloud to Crowe and producer James L. Brooks (Crowe’s mentor and the writer/director for “Terms of Endearment” and “Broadcast News”) to be sure he was the right guy for Maguire. Those stories bloomed in my young mind, painting a vivid picture of Hollywood and the kind of films I hoped one day to make.
I saw it opening day and mid-way through, the 35mm film got stuck and melted before my eyes (yes, that happened back then!). I was enjoying it so much, I ran across town to another multiplex, happy to watch it again and catch the ending. I went back many times, in awe of Crowe's journalist’s eye for detail and his ear for the cadence of human speech and ability to always cue the perfect song.
(1&2) A short time after the “Mission Statement” Maguire is fired. He says, "If anybody else wants to come with me, this moment will be the ground floor of something real and fun and inspiring and true in this godforsaken business and we will do it together! Who's coming with me besides... "Flipper" here?" Dorothy Boyd joins him and they walk out together. (3) Maguire’s fiancée Avery Bishop (Kelly Preston) doesn’t provide much support. (4) Matt Cushman (Beau Bridges) father of the possible No. 1 draft pick in the NFL tells Maguire, "My word is stronger than oak!"
“Jerry Maguire” is a tutorial in how to be the best you, and the inner and outer struggles one encounters on that journey. Set in the world of professional sports, Crowe implores us not just to strive for excellence in our given field, but excellence in our personal lives as well.
In short, the story of a man forced to live up to his own ideals when he is fired for expressing them. It contains one of Cruise’s greatest performances and some of the decade’s most iconic scenes and catchphrases. It employs one of the finest supporting casts, every one of the characters are memorable and distinct, no matter how small the role (see Todd Luioso's jazz-loving nanny, Chad).
The ensemble includes Cuba Gooding Jr., who won an Oscar as Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod “Show Me the Money” Tidwell; an unforgettable Renee Zellweger, as single mother Dorothy Boyd and Jonathan Lipnicki as her charming son, Ray. Zellweger more than lives up to the standards set by Billy Wilder and James L. Brooks for strong female heroines with true agency; Jay Mohr as the diabolical rival Bob Sugar; as well as Bonnie Hunt, Kelly Preston, Regina King, Jerry O’Connell, and Beau Bridges.
As I prepared for the possibility of directing my first studio film “The Fault in Our Stars,” I showed the executives at Fox the opening of “Jerry Maguire” during my pitch. I tried to capture a bit of Crowe’s magic in the first act “TFIOS.” He’s always been a guiding light in my own career, and I return to his films over and over when in doubt about what a movie should be and how it should make you feel.
When Sony announced the lavish Columbia Classics 4K box set, which includes some truly impressive classics like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Dr. Strangelove,” I could’ve cared less. I was finally getting “Jerry Maguire," one of my favorite, looking as good as I remember it looked in theaters all those years ago.
(1) Maguire and Tidwell try to drum up an endorsement just before the NFL draft. (2) He realizes his relationship with his fiancée is over. (3) Maguire ends up at Dorothy Boyd's house and starts talking to Little Ray, who says, "You said f#*k!" (4) An intoxicated Maguire catches a cab after leaving Dorothy's house.
The original camera negative (1.85:1 aspect ratio) was scanned in 2014 for the 4K master and recently HDR10 toning was applied giving more depth and image detail – while opening-up the highlights to “allow the colors in the original negative to come through in the HDR,” says Rita Belda in the Columbia book. Crowe approved the HDR toning, which features dynamic lighting and moody earth tones from Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List”).
The overall clarity is up several notches over the enclosed Blu-ray, which was also sourced from the original 4K master without HDR. The natural film grain is much more pronounced, while Crowe and Kaminski’s framing is tight with plenty of detail. The sparing wide shots you can pick out the facial reactions around the room as Jerry and Dorothy walk out of the Sports Management International headquarters.
The right amount of sound effects and music cues from the fabulous eight-channel soundtrack are pushed to your Dolby Atmos height speakers giving the soundstage more depth from left to right and from the floor to the ceiling. You won’t forget the magical tones sprinkled throughout from The Who, Neil Young, Elvis, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Crowe’s wife Nancy Wilson.
(1) Tidwell shows the goods as Jerry Maguire leaves the locker room. (2) Jerry's first reaction to seeing Dorothy, "Wow. That's more than a dress, that's an Audrey Hepburn movie." (3) Ray says, "Give me a hug." (4&5) The first date between Jerry and Dorothy. At the front door, she says, "Well good night." He returns the "Good night." Then the big oops.
During the 40-minute chat featured on the 4K disc between Baldwin and Crowe, the actor navigates the conversation down a voyage of the writer/director/journalist's career. First, stop at Rolling Stone as the teenage writer hopped around the U.S. covering rock bands. Baldwin unequivocally considers Crowe, “The Truman Capote of rock and roll,” as they venture into his first novel “Fast Times at Ridgemont” which became the classic 1982 comedy of the same name.
Then they fast-forward nearly two decades to Crowe’s “Almost Famous” (2000) and how Baldwin reminded Crowe’s children that their mother is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and their dad won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for his autobiographical coming-of-age story of a teenage journalist's time on the road with a rock band in the early '70s.
Next, they touch “Jerry Maguire” and how it blows things open for Crowe and company, signing Cruise to play the sports agent, when the studio wanted Robin Williams. “It becomes this Hollywood freight train and you’ll be lucky if you see the back of the caboose,” says Crowe. He admits they never knew it would be so successful. The film received five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Gooding Jr. winning Best Supporting actor.
The enclosed Blu-ray is the same 2017 edition, which includes a pop-up video commentary with Crowe, Cruise, Zellweger, and Gooding Jr. with mostly congratulatory comments. With that said, there's plenty to congratulate here and it's nice to see everyone hanging in the same room together.
(1) Sisterly advice from Laurel Boyd (Bonnie Hunt) to Dorothy after a night with Jerry Maguire. (2) Ray is the impatient ring bearer. (3) Tidwell makes the game-winning touchdown. (4&5) A proud agent watches on as his client finally gets the attention they deserve.
The best extra is the two-part “Jerry Maguire: We Meet Again,” which includes a first reading video with Cruise, Gooding Jr. and Jerry O’Connell, backstories, and narration by Crowe. “‘Jerry Maguire' came out of a very personal desire…from a number of different impulses and instincts,” he says. It also became a great opportunity to reunite with Brooks, who Crowe considers a “master storyteller.” He visited the producer, a couple of times a week, to talk about life, but also about the characters “and about the rich little corners of all the scenes.” Sports agent Leigh Steinberg, known in the 1990s as the super-agent who handled many of the “bigger ticket clients” provided Crowe with plenty of details of the “soulless business.” It was all about making money and putting the clients [players] on the field. “If they got hurt, move them out,” he says. Like all of Crowe's films, "Jerry Maguire" urges us to do better.
It’s been nearly 25 years and Crowe's exploration of morality remains a monument to a nearly-lost art form, a warm, funny, deeply moving big-budget Hollywood film about human beings, richly textured and filled with insight into their lives and hearts.
— Josh Boone, writer/director/producer
Happily Ever After - the final shot of our modern family is accompanied by Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm,” a perfect metaphor for a family.