Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire
Directed and written by Cameron Crowe.
(number 422)

Watching American Psycho has given me a very different lens for this movie. I’m sure I’ve kind of sort of seen it once before, when someone else was watching it in the room and I was doing something else. Having watched American Psycho I now see this kind of film, lionizing this kind of successful white American heterosexual businessman as a lot more ominous. Jerry is a bit more down on his luck than Christian Grey or Patrick Bateman but he’s in the same ballpark as them. It’s a bit more interesting than the men in Glengarry Glen Ross (which I will keep coming back to because it really was a milestone picture in my 500 list watching for understanding movies about businesses.)

But maybe I’m being a bit harsh on poor old Jerry. This movie has a softer heart than the ones I’m comparing it to and it definitely has an interesting examination of emotional unavailability for the title character.

It’s all very soft focus, portraying sports as the one true religion of the States, bringing people together and galvanising men into Real Men. There’s a lot of talk about love vs money but ultimately the goal of the characters is to have both, of course. It’s hard to imagine a happy ending for Jerry where he loves his new wife but has failed at his job of getting contracts for Rod. I feel very cynical writing about this movie but I guess it’s the mood I was in as we watched.

To be fair, I did watch this with Anna as we built Lego Arkham Asylum so it’s fair to say it didn’t get my full and undivided attention. That said, I did find myself forgetting about the Lego and gazing at the screen at several moments, so I was somewhat enchanted.

My favourite Cameron Crowe film is Almost Famous, and I want to say there’s not too much in common with it except for a certain golden saturated love for the scenery and a fascination with golden haired women who are a bit messy and not quite together.

Does it make me love the people? I guess it does. I was pretty teary at the end so I definitely liked Rod Tidwell and his family. Jerry it’s a little harder to love but the movie just sort of assumes you will, since it shows him ‘growing a conscience’ and losing his job over the revolutionary mission statement he writes and sends out. Knowing what we know about Tom Cruise now, it’s hard to separate his characters from his weird behaviour outside

Bechdel test: Dorothy talks to her sister Laurel about how bad Dorothy’s decision to quit her job and work with Jerry. Like its sort of halfway about him but mostly it’s about Dorothy’s choices and how little she likes the unnamed women ranting about their divorces in the next room. It’s a pass, I’d say.

That said there’s an uncomfortable commentary on women – the fiance Jerry has at the start of the movie is a classic, cartoonish stereotypical career woman, totally not vulnerable or sensitive. By contrast Renee Zelwegger’s Dorothy is shown as soft spoken, entranced by romance and almost always shown mothering her little boy.

Best line: Obviously the classic line is ‘show me the money’ right? Or maybe it’s the ‘you complete me’ bit or ‘you had me at hello’, all of which are a bit cliche now, since this movie did so well.

State of Mind: It lost me in the middle, but I do like the ending. Even got a little bit teary. Anna liked it, so generally it’s a success. I can’t get the American Psycho comparison out of my head though, heh.

Watched movie count

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