A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jerry Maguire handles many grown-up themes, such as professional ethics, moral crises, romantic relationships, intimacy issues, and single motherhood. A raucous sex scene opens the movie, but is usually cut out when shown on TV. There's still plenty of locker-room nudity the audience almost sees, and more sex later in the movie. Some characters are superficial, shallow, and conniving, but they don't necessarily win in the end.
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What's the story?
JERRY MAGUIRE (Tom Cruise), a sports agent, lives for the deal -- that is, getting money and fame for the professional athletes he represents. But one day he has an awakening. It comes after he visits a football player who's just suffered his fourth concussion and whose family is sick with worry. Disillusioned with his cutthroat industry, Jerry composes an idealistic memo -- or "mission statement," as he repeatedly calls it -- in which he urges colleagues to have a heart, to start caring more about people and less about profits. He distributes it at an industry convention, and his boss promptly fires him for going soft. With only one client who sticks with him, Jerry must start all over again as an independent agent. In the process, he learns about himself, discovers the importance of loyalty, and ultimately comes to value the people in his life much more.
Is it any good?
This is a feel-good movie, the kind that has viewers rooting for an everyman who struggles to do the right thing in a world where it's much easier to do the opposite. Jerry Maguire is both touching and funny. Cuba Gooding Jr. is not only hilarious as Jerry's sole client, but he gives his football-player character depth and compassion. The friendship that develops between him and Jerry is humorous and believable. Meanwhile, Renée Zellweger holds her own in her first major role as Dorothy, Jerry's loyal co-worker, his love interest, and the mother of an adorable son (played by Jonathan Lipnicki). Bonnie Hunt is solid as Dorothy's wary but well-meaning sister.
Director Cameron Crowe and his cast create several scenes that have become well known and spoofed often. The amped-up "show me the money" exchange between Gooding and Cruise is particularly memorable. And phrases like "you complete me" and "you had me at hello" are practically part of American vernacular. Although it occasionally gets sidelined by schmaltz, Jerry Maguire ultimately hits the right balance between satisfying chick flick and thumbs-up sports cinema.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jerry Maguire portrays the world of professional sports: How are the players and people behind the scenes represented? Are they interested in the sport itself and each other, or are they driven more by dollar signs?
What does Jerry Maguire do to make a positive difference?
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