Goes to the Movies

Too Close To Home

  Click for larger image Cruise shows Gooding the money -- amid a scary sports landscape of greed. Photofest

By Leigh Montville

Issue date: December 23, 1996

Sports Illustrated Flashback

The public relations flack for Jerry Maguire will no doubt scan this review for a phrase to throw into the film's massive ad campaign. Scan no further. "Scared me out of my wits." --Leigh Montville, Sports Illustrated

This is slightly different from the phrases found in other reviews: "Very funny and very touching" -- Larry King, USA Today; "altogether wondrous" -- Richard Schickel, Time But the horror in the movie is obvious to any observer of modern pro sports. Is this what it's all about? Am I wasting my weekends watching ... this? Writer/director Cameron Crowe has laid out a sports landscape of greed, populated by cheeseballs and sleazeballs all in search of folding money. If that vision doesn't horrify you, chances are you'll get a kick out of this well-made movie.

Maguire, played deftly by Tom Cruise, is a prototypically avaricious agent who suffers from a momentary -- though not terminal -- attack of conscience. He is fired from his job at a big-time agency and left with only one client, Arizona Cardinals receiver Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. Tidwell's motto is "Show me the money!" and Maguire's job is to, well, show him the money. goes to the movies
Though played mostly for laughs, one ugly scene follows another. The father of a No. 1 draft choice goes back on his word and dumps Maguire for another agent and a more lucrative deal. Tidwell's wife badgers Maguire to get "the big jewels of sports promotion" -- shoe and soft-drink endorsements -- for her husband. Maguire slips and slides and tells virtually everyone only what he or she wants to hear. Honesty and humility are forgotten.

Sprinkled through the proceedings like so many expensive potted palms are sports stars like Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe and Warren Moon, not to mention the ABC Monday-night crew. (Frank Gifford on a 30-foot screen -- now that's scary.) An ad for a long-ago horror film urged patrons to repeat the words "it's only a movie" to calm their fears. I, for one, hope that's the case here.

Issue date: December 23, 1996