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Cruise and Gooding carry ‘Jerry Maguire’ into the end zone

PHOTO PROVIDED The poster for “Jerry Maguire” is pictured.

While there are a few New Year’s movies out there, I didn’t feel like reviewing one for this week’s “Throwback Thursday” column. After a month of Christmas movie reviews, I thought I’d go off the board and review one of my all-time favorites — 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.”

If you’ve never seen “Jerry Maguire,” you are in for a treat.

The plot centers around Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), a sports agent who seems shallow on the surface. However, on the road at a conference one night, Jerry comes up with a mission statement. He says that sports agents need “fewer clients and less money.” His mission statement promptly gets him fired from his high-paying job. Jerry recruits Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) to leave her job as an accountant and follow him, though he has just one client, a prima donna NFL wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

From there, the film really takes off. We’re along for the ride as Jerry explores his relationship with Dororthy and her adorable son, Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki, who steals just about every scene he’s in).

As you can imagine, Jerry and Dorothy quickly go from platonic co-workers to a boyfriend and girlfriend. Meanwhile, Jerry loses a star college quarterback Frank Cushman (Jerry O’Connell) at the NFL Draft to a slimy rival agent Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr).

PHOTO PROVIDED Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. in 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.”

That pushes Jerry to get even closer to Rod to make certain he doesn’t lose his lone client. Jerry desperately tries to get Rod a new contract with his hometown Arizona Cardinals. However, Rod has an Antonio Brown-size ego, so Jerry is fighting an uphill battle.

In many ways, “Jerry Maguire” is the perfect couple movie. It’s hard to categorize. It’s certainly not a drama. In fact, it feels more like a comedy. At times, it’s a romantic comedy. There’s enough romance to keep women interested, coupled with enough football scenes to keep the men engaged.

It’s been noted that “Jerry Maguire” is based on the real-life story of sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who was a consultant on the set of the film.

The film has several memorable scenes. One of the best, of course, is the scene where Jerry desperately tries to keep Rod as his client. Rod tells Jerry he wants him to “show me the money” and he winds up screaming it into a phone as his co-workers watch in amazement.

While Cruise is great as Jerry, it’s Gooding who steals the show as Rod. Gooding would go on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. If you’ve never seen his acceptance speech, check it out on YouTube. It’s one of the most memorable speeches in Oscar history.

If you’re a sports fan, there are plenty of great cameos. Watch for appearances by Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter, Troy Aikman, Al Michaels, Drew Bledsoe, Warren Moon, Barry Switzer, Frank Gifford, Dan Deirdorf and Roy Firestone — just to name a few. Also, look for appearances by the late Glenn Frey (The Eagles), who plays the Cardinals’ GM and Kelly Preston, who plays Jerry’s fiancee, Avery Bishop.

“Jerry Maguire” was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Unbelievably, Gooding was the lone winner.

Director Cameron Crowe does a masterful job. He pushes all the right buttons and gets us emotionally attached to Jerry, Dorothy, Ray and Rod pretty easily.

“Jerry Maguire” is rated R for adult language, brief nudity and sexual situations. In short, don’t watch it with the kids. It’s an adult rom-com.

You can find “Jerry Maguire” on many platforms, including Xfinity OnDemand, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube and iTunes.

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Chris Morelli is a staff reporter for The Express.

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