Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jerry Maguire

photo: from the movie's Wikipedia site

One of my favorite movies, it's gotten stuck in my mental flypaper recently, for reasons that I couldn't even begin to tell you.  But the good thing about being a writer who writes a lot is that I am used to unabashedly getting my thoughts down and throwing them out there, even if said thoughts won't light up the world--or bring it down.  They're not important, but here they are anyway:

--It's occurred to me lately that one of the odd things about the movie is that Jerry Maguire is a complete orphan.  This would have been a great point to show in the movie, which, after all, is a warning against materialism, working too much to the sacrifice of personal contentment, and working at being a complete person--in other words, about relationships.  It was established that he was bad at relationships, but only with women.  He was afraid of commitment.  But what about his parents?  Maybe a cousin somewhere?  And why didn't he have a kid by his age (he's 35)--and with his money and opportunity.  He couldn't even father a mistake?  Anyway, this would have been a great point for the movie to quickly emphasize, even if it's just one line.  If he had a family, for example, he might not have been so desperate to make money.  Which brings me to--

--It is inconceivable that a sports agent of Jerry Maguire's calibre would not land on his feet quickly with another agency.  The movie clearly isn't about that--it's about fewer clients, after all--but Maguire doesn't ever seem to even have the thought.  Another super-agency like the one he left would have snatched him up immediately.  There are a lot of those.  Furthermore, at the very least, other young and hungry sharks would have wanted to leech onto him when he formed his own company.  This happens all the time, even in the literary agent world.  They go from agency to agency all the time, often climbing higher and higher--or just starting their own, where other less-experienced agents would join them.

--A real Jerry Maguire would never have left Cushman unsigned.  Again, I know the movie is anti-corporate, anti-contract, etc.--but, still, the #1 draft pick in the whole country is not left unsigned.  Once he's eligible for the draft, agent-barracudas would be all over him.  In fact, swarmy agents are latched onto this guy before he even graduates college--they just can't legally announce it and date the contract until after he's eligible.  Like, a few seconds after he's eligible.  I can't imagine Scott Boras getting by with just a handshake with the father of the #1 draft pick.  For those who don't know, #1 picks get signed to long contracts worth millions of dollars, often tens of millions if they're obviously great right away.  And the agent usually makes 15% to 20% of that.  So if the #1 pick gets signed to a three-year, ten million dollar contract--which is pennies these days--the agent will make one- to one-point-five million dollars of that.  Which is why a handshake the night before the draft simply would never do--not even for an nontraditional, anti-corporate guy like Jerry Maguire.

--Thinking again of the orphan theme, or at least of someone being parent-less, Ray, the little boy, of course lost his father.  Cushman's mother is never seen, or mentioned.  Dorothy has her sister, Laurel, but neither ever mentions their parents.  Jerry Maguire has nobody at all, and mentions his mentor more than he ever mentions any parents.  The agency is definitely his family--which of course was part of his existential mess.  In fact, the most respected guy, in terms of family and relationships, is Rod Tidwell--who has a large family, but no friends, not even on his team.  For these athletes, their teammates are often just as much of a family--if not more--than their actual family.  But not for him.  Everybody, in some way, was off-balance with some kind of relationship.

--The AFI says Jerry Maguire is the tenth-best sports film ever.  I haven't seen the list, but I assume Field of Dreams, The Bad News Bears, The Natural, Major League, Rocky, Raging Bull, a football film from the 70s that I'm forgetting, with Burt Reynolds, and...What else?  Wasn't there a famous boxing movie from the 40s or 50s, The Quiet American, or something like that?  Moneyball, if the list is recent.  Bull Durham, of course.  That's ten, so one of these, or more, aren't in the top ten.  Okay, I'll take a look at the list now.  Wait, before I do, Chariots of Fire.  Oh, and The Karate Kid (the original, of course).  Now I can't find it.  Wait, here it is.  80s purists beware.


  1. I'd just like to add another favorite sports film of mine: 1992's A League Of Their Own. Prior to watching the film I wasn't even aware there had been a woman's baseball team. I became fascinated with the notion of women taking over America's favorite sport during the war. It's well acted, funny, and bitter sweet... and probably my favorite sports film only after Rocky (and The Karate Kid. I thank you for adding that one to your list since it's usually over looked! 80s purist myself.)

    By the way, I think the Burt Reynolds film you were referring to was 1974's The Longest Yard.

  2. Yup, that was it. And I really liked A League of their Own, too. Actually made me a bit melancholy at the end, the first time I saw it, during the sad Madonna song. Good call.