Jerry Maguire’s a sports agent. He handles the lives and dreams of 72 clients and gets 264 phone calls a day. He will not rest until his client holds a Coke in a new commercial starring his client broadcast during a Super Bowl game his client is winning.
An athlete’s in a hospital bed following a fourth concussion. If he misses the upcoming game, he won’t qualify for his much-needed bonus. His son tells Jerry his Dad should stop playing. Jerry brushes off his concerns. Jesse insults Jerry. Maybe he is just another shark in a suit.
Two days later, Jerry writes a mission statement. The key to the business is personal relationships. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention.
At the airport, co-worker, Dorothy Boyd, praises Jerry’s memo. Optimism is a revolutionary act. She liked the part about embracing what is virginal and force commerce to give a little back for the greater good.
Jerry’s having wild sex with fiancée, Avery Bishop. Then, she reminds him they have dinner with Wade Cooksy the next day. At the party, everyone applauds Jerry. In a home video, a succession of Jerry’s exes reveal that Jerry can’t be alone and he lies, then they blow kisses at the camera. His little, black book is put to the flame.
Pregnant Marcee Tidwell says her husband, Rod is upset. Rod deserves the four endorsement jewels: shoe, car, clothing, soft drink. Marcee and her husband both majored in marketing.
Bob Sugar fires Jerry. Jerry then says he wants all his clients, plus Sugar’s. Both men then frantically call and sweet-talk their biggest clients to stay with them.
Jerry calls Rod asking how he’s doing. Rod’s worried about his contract. Jerry urgently needs proof of loyalty so he can call others. Rod tells Jerry his family motto: “Show me the money”. Rod wants Jerry to say the words, threatening to go with Sugar. Jerry ends up shouting the motto, also that he loves the black man and black people. Rod finally confirms Jerry’s still his agent.
Jerry declares that he’s easing out of the office he helped build. He takes the office fish, asking who’s with him. Dorothy says she’ll go. He reassures her in the lift she’ll have medical.
In Texas, Matt Cushman says he and his football-playing son have sided with Jerry and Jerry hugs Matt. Matt doesn’t do contracts, but Jerry has Matt’s word which is stronger than oak.
At the draft, Cush is surrounded by clamouring press. Afterwards, Jerry calls Rod the best kept secret in the NFL. He introduces Rod to everyone: 110 catches; 1,550 yards the previous year.
Jerry tells Cush and Matt San Diego just came in with a big last-minute scenario. San Diego wants to trade up with Denver. Matt asks about Denver. Jerry says tell them no comment. Sugar calls, thinking it’s Cush who’s answered. Jerry stays quiet. Sugar says Cush is now global. Jerry can’t believe Matt went behind his back. Matt signed with Bob Sugar an hour earlier.
Avery asks what their deal was when they first got together. Brutal truth. She’s not sensitive, but she loves him. Jerry tells her it’s over. She’s never been dumped. She unleashes a flurry of punches and knees, leaving Jerry on the floor.
Jerry calls Dorothy. Her sister, Laurel, calls Jerry a syndrome. Dorothy says he’s engaged and Dorothy’s part of something she believes in for once. Dorothy sees the cut on Jerry’s face. He broke up with Avery. Dorothy gets aloe vera.
Dorothy tells Laurel other women her age are out in clubs trying to get a man. Dorothy’s trying to raise a man. She arrives with refreshments, having called Jerry a taxi. She raises a toast to their company. Jerry says he’s a survivor and provides drunken reassurances they’ll be fine together. Dorothy says she’s working for him because of what he wrote. He gropes her, then apologises.
On the phone, Jerry tells Rod’s coach, Dennis Wilburn, $10m for four years. Dennis says Rod has an attitude problem and he’s a shrimp. Jerry says he broke all the records the previous year. Dennis wants a prototypical wide receiver who’s 6’3”, 220lbs not some guy who’s 5’10” and bitches.
Rod says he’s better than Jerry Rice, Andre Reed and Chris Carter, yet they’re making more money. They are making the “kwan” which means love, respect, community and dollars. Jerry says those players are marquee players. This is a renegotiation. Rod should bury the attitude and return to the guy who first started playing when it wasn’t about the money.
Rod says he’s not an entertainer. He doesn’t start pre-season without a contract. Jerry tells Rod it’s an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that he will never fully tell Rod about. Jerry’s hanging on by a very thin thread, which Rod loves about Jerry. Jerry thinks they’re fighting, but Rod thinks they’re finally talking.
With a divorced women meeting in session, Jerry says he’s looking for Dorothy. Ray arrives and hugs Jerry’s leg. Jerry has Arizona Cardinals merchandise for Ray. Dorothy walks in in a sexy dress.
Ray kisses Dorothy, then demands a hug from Jerry. Jerry crouches down and they hug, Ray kissing Jerry’s face. In private, Dorothy tells Laurel she’s never seen Ray kiss a man just like a Dad.
Next morning, Dorothy and Laurel are waiting for the coffee machine discussing Jerry. He listens from the corridor. Laurel says Jerry’s on the bottom rung. But, Dorothy loves him. She loves him for the man he wants to be and for the man that he almost is.
Then, Jerry walks into the kitchen, smoothly greeting both women. Laurel offers him coffee. He thanks her, saying bottom feeders prefer cereal first. He warmly greets and kisses Dorothy and says they have a big fax that day. Ray and Jerry clink spoons.
Jerry, Rod, Marcee and Dorothy are gathered around the fax machine. The offer is only $1.7m for three years. Marcee and Rod owe more than that. Marcee says she wants Sugar, then asks what Jerry stands for. Dorothy says integrity.
There’s so much greed in the world. She doesn’t know what to tell her son. Jerry’s broke and is working for Rod for free. Marcee tells Rod this is her and her husband. Rod’s a strong, proud, surviving, splendid black man. Jerry bets on Rod, like Rod bets on Jerry.
Dorothy and Ray are moving to San Diego for a more secure job. Jerry tells Ray he’ll like it in San Diego. Ray is dispirited. Dorothy says she loves Jerry. He loves her, too and kisses her. Jerry asks if she’d marry him. She removes her sunglasses and they kiss.
After the game, Jerry tells Rod to be careful when playing. Rod’s Jerry’s entire client roster. Rod tells Jerry to go home to his wife. Jerry says not everyone has what Rod has with his.
Rod asks why Jerry got married. Jerry says loyalty, then everything else grew from there. Rod smiles and says that’s an answer. Jerry angrily says that’s the answer. Rod playfully pushes Jerry.
Jerry says Rod doesn’t have his $10m because he’s a paycheque player. It’s about what Rod didn’t get, who’s to blame, who underthrew, who has the contract he doesn’t, who’s not giving him love. Rod should play from his heart. Then, Jerry will show Rod the kwan. When they call Rod shrimp, Jerry defends him.
Tidwell upside down hits the ground hard, but keeps the ball. He’s still down. The trainer runs out. Rod’s catch gives Arizona the lead. They cut to commercial. Jerry calls to tell Marcee to stay calm.
Rod gets up. The stadium applauds. He removes his helmet and raises it in the air, grinning. He performs some nimble prancing, then breakdances. The big LED screen says “In Rod we trust”. Rod embraces Jerry. Watching, Sugar’s client asks why they don’t have that kind of relationship.
Jerry goes to Dorothy’s house. A divorcee meeting is in session. Jerry’s looking for his wife. Jerry says that that night, their little company had a very big night. A very, very big night. But it wasn’t complete because Jerry couldn’t share it with Dorothy.
Through tears, he says he missed his wife. It’s a cynical world and they work in a world of tough competitors. He says he loves her and she completes him. A tearful Dorothy tells him to shut up. He approaches her and they embrace.
Being interviewed by Roy Firestone, Rod is reminded of all the tragedies he’s had to contend with in his life. Then, he’s handed a contract. Arizona Cardinals. Four years. $11.2m and he’ll play in his home state. Rod starts whooping and lists his loved ones. Jerry Maguire is his Ambassador of Kwan.
In the park, a baseball lands in front of Jerry, Dorothy and Ray. Ray throws it back impressively far. Luckily, Jerry knows the right people to help develop Ray’s natural talent.
Starring Tom Cruise. Cuba Gooding Jr. Renee Zellweger. Rated 15. Dir Cameron Crowe. Released in the UK 1996. Runtime 2hrs 19min