Jerry Maguire (1996) – Hope And Business Without The BS

Jerry-Maguire
I fucking hate Romantic Comedies.

There, I said it.

Okay, to be a bit more specific, I hate Romantic Comedies that came out in recent years due to how fucking formulaic they can get. It always goes like this: An awkward pair of people do awkward bullshit for roughly an hour, date, fight and then get back together just in time for the credits, all of which is done to the tune of stupid Pop Songs. Throw in your usual cast of stereotypes like the Best Friends (Sassy Gay/Black Friends and Black Best Friends also fit this bill) that have no lives outside of helping the Main Characters out, the anti-fun establishment representative called The Man and add in a couple of naysayers while you’re at it like the Straw Feminist/Unjustified Feminazi or the Bro Code Bro and you’re pretty much set to go. With that lazy-as-fuck equation, you can go make a killing at the Filipino Movie Industry since they’ve been shitting out the same fucking bullshit since the goddamned 80’s while acting like it’s the greatest discovery since finally finding the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.

Seeing the same bullshit get churned out from both local and foreign movie industries is part of the reason why I miss stuff that were made in the way of JERRY MAGUIRE, a Romantic Comedy released back in the 90’s that is equal parts Romantic Fun and Romantic Drama. JERRY MAGUIRE isn’t just some hook-up movie showing a pair of Lovestruck People get together after going through a lot of THREE STOOGES level shenanigans (and by that I mean Stupidity) but it’s a Romantic Story with a lot of other stuff going on, which is a great thing because it helps the movie become more than just a typical Date Movie. With genuinely heartfelt Character-Centric Side Stories and a more grown-up approach to the Romantic aspect that I haven’t seen since 500 DAYS OF SUMMER and ETERNAL SUNSHINE ON THE SPOTLESS MIND, JERRY MAGUIRE proves its mettle in today’s repetitive wasteland that was once the Romantic Comedy Genre.

JERRY MAGUIRE tells the story of your typical Heartless Corporate Dick that makes a killing as a Sports Agent who one day grows a conscience and finally sees his life for what it is: money and nothing else. His personal life is pretty on the outside but hollow on the inside, he hates himself for lying and bullshiting his way to a big paycheck on a daily basis and he’s sick of it so he does the most logical thing in the world: tell his bosses off and stick it to The Man.

Which promptly gets his ass fired.

Thus starts Jerry’s story of redemption and trying to piece his life back together in a movie that anyone who’s felt like they lost it all should watch. Hell if I were a shrink and my patients had some self-loathing issues and the like, I’d tell them to memorize a bunch of quotes from this movie and yell “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!” at a mirror to help them out (thinking about it, this is something I should do on a daily basis). JERRY MAGUIRE can provide a good lesson on the difference between The Real Shit and The Bull Shit and anyone who feels like they’re just floating about in life should throw JERRY MAGUIRE in their list of Required Viewings.

Unlike other movies of a similar note, JERRY MAGUIRE never goes overboard with one side of the emotional spectrum as it safely walks the line between Boundless Optimism and Endless Cynicism while never losing hope. This is what makes JERRY MAGUIRE a relatable movie: compared to movies with the same premise where life crashes down on the main character, JERRY MAGUIRE is populated with Human Beings and not your usual Romantic Stereotypes. At first glance, they may look like your usual Cardboard Cutouts (especially Dorothy’s Man-Hating Older Sister) but by the end of the movie, you realize that they’re more than just archetypes. Each character (save for the Obligatory 90’s Movie Assholes like The Man), no matter how much screen time they get, has a story to tell and each one is loaded with both pain and the desire for pure happiness.

Simple human stories of hardships and life choices that anyone could connect with can work by themselves and make for perfect Oscar Bait Movies but JERRY MAGUIRE tells theses stories in a realistic and sympathetic way barely seen in the Pretentious High-Art Bullshit that makes up most of the Best Picture Winners list while simultaneously blending these arcs seamlessly to conclude them all perfectly by the movie’s end.

Here, there are no Deus Ex Machinas like having your Cinderella Rip Off Heroine learn that she’s actually the heiress to some kingdom you never heard of. Instead, we have people who trip many times and cry about it before finally picking themselves up because that’s what normal folk do on a daily basis. Truth be told, the cast here has failed more times than they could count before even getting a taste of victory but that’s what makes JERRY MAGUIRE a great example of what a Feel-Good Movie should be: it’s not a Delusional Happy Drug that shuts off all pessimism and ignores life’s harsh realities like what most Filipino Young Adult stories do. Rather, a well done Feel-Good Movie makes you give more than a shit about the central characters as they go through an emotionally taxing journey of Soul Searching loaded with Painful Character Development so that by the time the step on the finish line, you celebrate their joy with them. You (incoming genre drop) feel good (see what I did there) because you know the characters you’ve grown attached to over the last two hours deserve their time in the sun after all the crap the world threw at them, and you smile with them when they do the same on your TV screen.

Even if the pacing does bog down by the middle act and the movie slows down way too much just so that it can hammer in how SAD things are, JERRY MAGUIRE still stands out decades after it was first released as a prime example of what the Romantic Movie can and should be. There are few melodramatic moments or forced jokes present (see the quotable “You complete me” speech that’s thankfully void of any sappy background music) since all the time and effort seen in JERRY MAGUIRE is focused on telling a good story with both real laughs and tears and it all works perfectly. In a world that’s pretty cynical at the moment, stuff like JERRY MAGUIRE is what people need to feel something outside of bad vibes. It’s that rare movie that chooses to keep things real even from a fictional standpoint and it works as the perfect reminder that there’s always a chance for hope and that there’s more to life than just the bullshit and the money, even if it hails from the days of a more sane USA and when the laptop was as big as a fucking college textbook.

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