Review: Jerry Maguire
In the pantheon of directors who truly understand/understood how to use music in films, there are a few obvious names that immediately spring to mind: John Hughes, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, and, of course, Cameron Crowe.
Crowe famously started his career as a journalist for Rolling Stone, and his love for music is evident in his films, which frequently feature iconic musical moments, such as John Cusack’s boombox serenade in Say Anything, the band singing
“Tiny Dancer” in Almost Famous, and arguably helping launch Seattle’s grunge scene with Singles.
Another element that runs deep through Crowe’s films is heart, loyalty, and discovering what is truly important, which is the central theme of Jerry Maguire.
I took my wife to see Maguire when it came out theatrically in 1996, and we loved it. In fact, it was actually the first DVD I purchased. (Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, “It is the best-selling non-Disney VHS tape of all time, with over 3 million copies sold on the first day and another 1 million on the second day.”)
Sports agent Jerry Maguire (Cruise) grows a conscience at 2 a.m. while on a junket after meeting with a client suffering yet another concussion who only cares about getting back on the ice to meet his playing bonus. Maguire’s epiphany leads him to write a 25-page mission statement about the state of the industry and taking on fewer clients to develop
MAGUIRE AT A GLANCE
Cameron Crowe’s Tom Cruise-fueled sports-laced romcom dramedy still holds up in this 4K HDR release, famous catch phrases and all.
Not exactly demo-worthy, with HDR sometimes making faces look overexposed and the transfer emphasizing the softness of some scenes, but overall looking great for a 25-year-old film.
The Dolby Atmos mix is surprisingly effective for such a dialogue-heavy movie, adding ambience that pulls you further into the film and mixing the songs big and full across the front channels.
more personal relationships, which he has printed with a Salinger-esque cover and puts in the In box of every member of his firm. This call for fewer clients/less money gets him sacked from his job, but after an impassioned plea, he convinces office assistant Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) to come join him in his new startup, where they’ll make a difference.
Maguire loses all of his clients—and income—save one athlete: Arizona Cardinals star receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Unfortunately, Tidwell’s me-first, get-what’s-mine attitude off the field wins him no friends, the big contract he wants, or the Kwan he desperately craves.
After Maguire loses star prospect Cushman (Jerry O’Connell) as a client the night before the NFL draft, the impending doom of his career leads to an argument between Maguire and his fiancée Avery (Kelly Preston), which, of course, opens the door for a relationship with Dorothy and her overly-cute son, Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki).
It’s pretty easy to sum up Jerry Maguire by saying that a great story with great actors makes a great film, and the film holds up terrifically well, still giving all the laughs and feels at all the right moments. Not only did it grab Academy Award nominations for Picture, Actor (Tom Cruise), Original Screenplay, and Editing, it also earned a Supporting Actor win for Cuba Gooding Jr. And its still-quotable lines such as, “Show me the money!” “You had me at ‘hello’,” “You complete me,” and “Help me, help you!” still ring true, as well as Bruce Springsteen’s perfectly chosen “Secret Garden.” (I also had no idea that The Simpsons legend James L. Brooks has a producing credit for Maguire.)
A 4K scan was made of the original 35mm negative for the film’s 20th anniversary, which was used for the Blu-ray re-release back in 2017, and a 4K Blu-ray taken from the new 4K digital intermediate was released as part of the Columbia Classics Collection: Vol. 1 (along with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dr. Strangelove, Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi, and A League of Their Own) in June. For those wanting to enjoy Maguire in its full 4K HDR glory without having to purchase the box set, it is available for download from Kaleidescape as an individual film.
The image retains the look of film, with grain visible throughout but not objectionable. I did notice a few scenes where the bumped-brightness from HDR made some faces look a bit over-exposed and grainy, but these were not often. There are also a few scenes—notably in the hotel lobby post mission-statement delivery—that looked incredibly soft, or “that looks like a VHS tape” according to my wife. These defocused moments are more noticeable because the rest of the film has so much sharpness and detail.
Closeups feature tons of facial detail or patterns and texture in fabric such as the loops in the knit sweater Dorothy wears on the plane or a tight check pattern in a suit Maguire wears. The film doesn’t feature an excessive color palette, but the cardinal-
red of the Cardinals’ jerseys look deeply saturated and realistic, and skin tones and the grass in the football scenes look natural.
While not used aggressively, HDR does add some pop to the white shirts Maguire seems to always wear, and we get some nice specular highlights from sun glinting off car windshields or sunlight streaming in through windows. The film has nice and inky black levels when called for, with no hints of noise or banding, making the night scenes really pop. While Jerry Maguire won’t be in your “must-demo video” playlist, images look terrific for a nearly 25-year-old title, and this is certainly the definitive version of the film to own and enjoy.
Another bonus is a new Dolby TrueHD Atmos audio mix. For a primarily dialogue-driven film, I wasn’t expecting much from this mix, but it pleasantly surprised me. Mixers used the additional channels to add appropriate ambience to scenes, greatly expanding the soundstage and placing you in the environment. Interiors like the hotel lobby, airport baggage claim, restaurant, and Jerry’s office all come alive with the sounds of background chatter and scene-appropriate sounds. You will especially notice how the pandemonium in Jerry’s office—with sounds of phones ringing, keyboards clattering, and voices chattering—erupts after he concludes his “I’m leaving” speech. We also get some nice use of the height
channels from the voices that haunt Jerry prior to his mission-statement epiphany or in airport PA announcements.
Every important line of dialogue is clear and anchored to the center, but the Atmos mix gives room for the soundtrack to breathe, and songs are mixed big and full across the front channels and up into the height speakers.
Both the 4K Blu-ray and Kaleidescape download include a host of special features, including commentary tracks, some small featurettes, and a host of deleted scenes, many of which feature pretty abysmal picture quality, but are fun to see what was trimmed from the final cut.
Jerry Maguire is a great, genre-spanning film with elements of comedy, drama, romance, and sports that offers a bit of something for everyone. If you haven’t given it a watch for a few years, this new transfer provides the perfect opportunity to revisit a real gem.
Probably the most experienced writer on custom installation in the industry, John Sciacca is
co-owner of Custom Theater & Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, & is known for his writing
for such publications as Residential Systems and Sound & Vision. Follow him on Twitter at
@SciaccaTweets and at johnsciacca.com.