[box cover]

Jerry Maguire: Special Edition

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

Starring Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding, Jr.,
and Kelly Preston

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe


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Review by D.K. Holm                    


It takes Renée Zellweger exactly two minutes and 14 seconds minutes to do something rather personal. We know this because at a certain point in the filmed commentary track on Disc Two of the Jerry Maguire: Special Edition DVD she whispers something to Cameron Crowe sitting in the plush red chair next to her and gets up and leaves the room. Two minutes and 14 seconds later she has returned, plopped herself back down in her plush red chair. Where did she go? Anybody care to guess?

This full-length filmed audio commentary is the biggest supplement to Columbia TriStar's 2002 Jerry Maguire: Special Edition DVD. The previous disc, published in 1997 and therefore one of the earliest DVDs released, had but one supplement: Spanish subtitles. It didn't even have the film's own trailer on it. The audio selection was Dolby 2.0 Surround, but the box couldn't be bothered to tell you that.

But that was then, this is now. DVD merchandise has grown up and become increasingly more elaborate. The new release, arriving in the warm glow of new esteem that director Cameron Crowe is enjoying in the aftermath of the critical praise bestowed on the commercially flat Almost Famous is a typically modern big package with time consuming menus and an abundance of extras, faux and otherwise. But more on that later. With a Vanilla Sky DVD assured, the complete oeuvre of Cameron Crowe is available digitally (except for Wild Life, the Chris Penn vehicle he wrote for producer Art Linson to direct, which no one seems willing to admit exists). So now the question arises: Is the work of Crowe, and particularly Jerry Maguire, worthy of such lavish production?

As baseball writer Bill James might say, the more movies a filmmaker makes the more likely he is to drift toward the middle on the performance scale. The more one thinks about Almost Famous, the less one likes it: The film feels smug and unctuous, and it's founded on a falsehood — that the young Cameron Crowe was a muckraking journalist who exposed the truth about bands, instead of the sappy cheerleader he appears to be from the articles that are appended to the DVD. As has been often said, AF is a movie about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, without the drugs and sex, and with an odd idea of what rock and roll is (stadium rock and Elton John). A sidenote is that after Art Linson produced Ridgemont High, Crowe went on to write Wild Life for him; then while at Fox ,Linson went on to do his own rock and roll years memoir, called Sunset Strip. It came out at the same time as AF and bombed. Linson is a former mentor, just as rock writer Lester Bangs was an early mentor; all replaced currently by James L. Brooks. One gets the impression that Crowe leaves lots of mentors behind him in the dust.

And now comes Jerry Maguire: Special Edition. Well, the film did win an Oscar (for best supporting actor), was nominated for four others, and was one of the hits of its release year, 1996. At root, it's a fine romantic comedy with some visual flair (provided by the usually cold Janusz Kaminski ) that introduced some catch-phrases into the culture ("Show me the money!" "You complete me") that were parodied in other movies. The film made stars of several "new" cast members, including Renée Zellweger and, briefly, Cuba Gooding, Jr. So at the very least, the movie merits attention, if only for historical purposes.

And obviously, Jerry Maguire touched a lot of people. This reviewer, for example, saw it in the movie theater something like eight times when it first came out; it made good on a promise of Say Anything that was sidelined by Singles, and Zellweger and Cruise made a dynamite couple. And this reviewer was also heartened by Billy Wilder's obvious influence on Crowe's film, from the opening Apartment-like narration to the exploration of a hustler's world. It's also a romantic movie that touches on something unusual in such fare: the reality of romance. Jerry is dating, and even marries, a woman he has ambivalent feelings about.

But that's the mystery at the heart of Jerry Maguire, isn't it? What is wrong with Jerry? He is stated as being very good at friendship, bad at intimacy. He seems more interested his wife's kid than his wife. So why did he marry her? What is his motivation? The audio track makes it clear that they intended Jerry to be wrestling with his attraction to Dorothy. But frankly, viewing it again after many years, one might get the impression that he doesn't really like her the way she likes him, and that he marries her in the middle of the film for the reason he states: She was loyal when he was down.

That's the great thing about Jerry Maguire. It has mystery to it. Unlike Crowe's other films so far, there is complexity beneath the surface sheen. In a sense, Crowe doesn't fully understand Maguire, yet is compelled to explore him. Or maybe he really does understand Jerry, too well, and what he presents is the product of his own moral wrestling. Jerry is a man who betrays and was betrayed; who forges alliances with others in a blend of affection and pragmatism. Jerry Maguire sounds very much like someone anyone in Hollywood would recognize, a Sammy Glick transmuted into a sports agent.


The DVD

Columbia TriStar, in contrast to its first DVD release, has done an extensive job with their two-disc Jerry Maguire: Special Edition. It's a real celebration of the movie.

Disc One offers the feature film in an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) that looks much like the transfer on the previous DVD release. Audio comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround (English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese), and there are an array of subtitles. The elaborate, animated, musical menus offers 28-chapter scene-selection (the previous disc had 63 chapters for the 139-minute movie).

The biggest addition to Disc One is the Audio commentary by Crowe, Cruise, Zellweger, and Gooding, Jr., in which the foursome praise each other, and praise everyone else who worked on the movie, from "the great" Regina King, who plays Gooding's wife in the film, to "the great" Jay Mohr, the sports agent Bob Sugar who betrays his mentor. Sadly, as the commentary begins, Crowe sounds incredibly smug. But as the film gets going, we learn a few interesting things, such as that in conversations with James L. Brooks, Crowe realized that the key to the film was telling a story that is really about what happens after most films end. In '50s to '70s-type movies, a compromised character makes a moral decision and finds happiness, and then the film ends. Brooks's suggestion was, let's make a movie about what happens to the guy after he makes his tough decision. It ain't easy, such a character will discover. Crowe discusses this and other matters, but for the most part this is a superficial track, which I suppose is what we should expect from a crowd. There is a scene in the movie in which Gooding's character Rod Tidwell is approached by two kids in the airport who think he is Hootie. Gooding reveals that this actually happened to him — after shooting took place, but before the movie came out.

Disc Two is packed, but the bulk of it is a video version of the audio commentary track available on the first disc. The screen is divided into two: on top is the footage of the foursome watching the movie. Below is a small version of the movie itself. We thus can see the participants reacting to themselves. From left to right, Gooding is energetic and grateful, Cruise is slouched and dressed down with a weird surfer or fishing hat pulled over his face, Zellweger is cute in a bulky sweater and her actual Texas accent, and Crowe is preening.

Next in importance is a selection of five deleted scenes with optional commentary by Crowe. They comprise: "Insane fans" (two guys who run up to Tidwell after a game); "Chicago style" (the most substantial, in which Jerry's then-fiancee announces loudly that she will perform "Chicago style" oral sex on him as a reward for signing a player); "Sugar stealing clients" (a long uninterrupted take of former Saturday Night Live comic Mohr working the phone's to steal Jerry's clients); "Pickleman" (an encounter between Tidwell and a team mascot); and "Tidwell and Cush fight" (a confrontation between Jerry's two clients on a plane).

Also on hand is rehearsal footage, consisting of "Cuba's Kwan" and "Show Me the Money," wherein Gooding apparently invented the film's most famous phrase, and "Goodbye to SMI," in which Cruise goes through his character's departure from his agency, done on the empty set for the offices. All are available with and without commentary by Crowe.

The rest of the extras are bread-and-butter stuff that we expect on discs these days. There is the 52-second Tidwell commercial later appended to the credit sequence of the movie itself. How to Be a Sports Agent (3:40) is a bit of video footage of sports agent Drew Rosenhaus describing the essential tools of his trade. This footage goes unexplained. We don't know where it was shot, and we hear people laughing in the background. There is an extensive photo gallery of about 60 publicity shots, and a making of featurette (7:00) which, as is typical for the genre, is an elaborate version of the trailer for the movie.

And speaking of trailers, there are two trailers on this disc, one for Crowe's mentor Brooks's As Good as it Gets, and the original trailer for Jerry Maguire, one of the most effective trailers in recent memory. This trailer has been previously unavailable. Other discs have had a Jerry Maguire trailer, but it was the ad for the video release. Thus a great wrong has been righted. The video for the Bruce Springsteen song "Secret Garden" is also here. There's the Jerry Maguire Mission Statement, "The Things We Think But Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business," which advocates fewer clients and less money, and which gets Jerry fired. This is the sort of background info that actors rely on but that the public rarely sees (the only comparable example this reviewer can think of is "The Revolutionist's Handbook" that figures in Shaw's play Man and Superman and is appended to the text). Maguire's mission statement comprises 45 screens worth of reading material. There are filmographies for Cruise, Jay Mohr, Gooding, Zellweger, Regina King, Jonathan Lipnicki, Crowe, and Kelly Preston. Also available via DVD-ROM is the Jerry Maguire script, which has also been published by Faber and Faber.

— D.K. Holm

Disc One

Disc Two



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