A quarter of a century after we first met, he still completes us.
Yes, “Jerry Maguire,” the romantic comedy about a sports agent, played by Tom Cruise, whose conscience leads him to focus on providing more attention to fewer clients, is 25 years old.
Inspired by sports agent Leigh Steinberg, the film was a massive hit, earning four Academy Award nominations, including best picture, best actor for Cruise, best screenplay for writer-director Cameron Crowe and best supporting actor for Cuba Gooding Jr., who won the award for his portrayal of disgruntled wide receiver Rod Tidwell.
“When you make a movie or a TV show, even when it does well, when it comes out, you think, ‘That’s it.’ But here we are talking about ‘Jerry Maguire’ 25 years later,” Jerry O’Connell, who played Cush, told TODAY. “It’s crazy to me. It’s crazy.”
And that’s a big part of the mystique of “Jerry Maguire.” We are not only talking about the movie. We are talking the movie itself: The film features some of the most memorable lines in cinema history, lines that are just as fresh today as they were when we first heard them.
“Show me the money.”
“Help me help you.”
“You had me at ‘Hello.’”
“You complete me.”
“Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?”
There are more great quotes, too, uttered by so many actors in the cast. “Show me the money” was named by the American Film Institute as the 25th greatest movie quote of all time, while “You had me at ‘Hello'" was No. 52.
“For me, I think it’s a real quotable movie,” O’Connell said. “It’s funny. I’m going to sound really old now, but movies today, they’re not that quotable. You know what I’m saying?
“I mean, like, how many quotes came out of ‘Jerry Maguire’? ‘You had me at hello.’ I can’t tell you how many people yell ‘Show me the money’ at me. People yell ‘My word is stronger than oak.’ ‘I just want to play football’ will be yelled at me all the time. And that’s all Cameron Crowe, man. He wrote those words. Tell me a more quotable movie.”
O’Connell can’t single out one line that is his favorite, either, while noting not many films can compete with "Jerry Maguire."
“‘Help me help you’ I guess is one that I use a lot,” he said. “I dare you to show me a more quotable film than ‘Jerry Maguire.’ And, by the way, (it's) not just one character making these quotes. I mean, maybe ‘Caddyshack.’ OK, ‘Caddyshack, a lot of people quote that. But no, I don’t have one favorite line. It’s like asking, 'Do I have a favorite child?'"
The stellar writing and impressive performances fueled the movie, which grossed more than $150 million at the box office and instantly placed itself in the pantheon of pop culture reference points. At its core, though, “Jerry Maguire” is about the constitution of a man, the perfect vehicle for Cruise to show off a vulnerability and just why he has remained such a big movie star for decades.
As the downtrodden agent who has to pivot to his one client — the disgruntled Tidwell after he’s spurned by O’Connell’s Cush — Jerry is determined to ride Tidwell to greatness. Tidwell, however, is hardly cooperative and Jerry's efforts are complicated by his lone employee, Dorothy Boyd, a single mother who longs to be inspired and sees greatness in Jerry.
The movie made a household name out of a young actor named Renee Zellweger, who played Dorothy. She would go on to collect two Oscars of her own, as well as earn two other nominations. The scene at the end of the movie where Jerry races home after Rod has his breakthrough game and pledges his love for Dorothy in her divorce support group is the stuff of cinematic legend and represented the pinnacle of this romantic comedy. Watching that scene again, it's hard not to get goosebumps.
“Jerry Maguire” works for so many reasons. The characters are truly memorable. Sure, we all remember Cruise, Gooding and Zellweger, but Jonathan Lipnicki’s portrayal of Ray is one of the great child performances we've witnessed on screen. Bonnie Hunt was on her game as Zellweger’s protective sister. Regina King — who herself would go on to win an Oscar — electrified the screen with her feisty performance as Tidwell's wife. Jay Mohr's slimy portrayal of Bob Sugar — a role O’Connell said he auditioned for — is memorable, while Kelly Preston shined as Jerry's ex-fiancée. Heck, even the minor roles, like the Kinko’s copy guy, Chet the nanny and Dicky Fox stood out. Everything clicked.
The movie provided the happy ending, too. The guy (Jerry) got the girl (Dorothy), while his business model took off. Times have changed, though, so would Jerry’s approach to his clients work today? O’Connell thinks he would find a way to adapt.
“Well, we all know he was a great agent, but he may not have conformed, if a lot of these agencies were sort of merging together and becoming sort of these über-corporations,” he said.
“I don’t really see Jerry Maguire as being a big corporate person. So, he’s probably got a small boutique agency that not only handles sports figures, also handles online personalities. Jerry Maguire probably reps a lot of TikTok stars right now. And he knows how to handle them personally, and really make sure that they get all the attention that they need.”
“Jerry Maguire” also retained an element of authenticity that is key in a movie about sports. In this case, it featured actual NFL teams, with the center on Tidwell's Arizona Cardinals. That, coupled with the winning love story between Jerry and Dorothy, made it a must-see film.
“It’s one of those magic films because it involves the NFL, which a lot of movies don’t get to do because the NFL doesn’t very readily give up the rights to their trademark," O'Connell said. "But it’s also maybe one of the best romantic comedies ever of all-time. So everybody’s happy going to see this film on date night. And I mean, I’m still amazed that 25 years later, we’re still talking about it.”
In a time of reboots and sequels, there has been radio silence on revisiting this movie. O’Connell says there’s been no talk of another film.
“No, I’m so sorry. It just hasn’t. I just don’t think it’s come up,” he said. “And if it did come up, I don’t think I would be their first call. They’d probably want to call Tommy and Renee, you know?”