Jerry Maguire Blu-ray ReviewSeptember 19, 2008
Jerry Maguire, released in 1996, proved to be director Cameron Crowe's first huge hit. Though he already had success with his screenplay for Fast Times At Ridgemont High and writing/directing Say Anything, Maguire easily surpassed all of his previous work. It currently accounts for almost half of the total gross of his films to date and holds an 83% rating on Rottentomatoes and 7.2/10 rating on IMDB.
One of the main reasons for the movie's success is its ability to balance the soul of a "chick flick" with enough male trappings to keep the guys interested. Even though the film focuses on the sports agency industry, I have never found that to be its selling point. The manner in which it portrays the relationships of the characters (both male/female and male/male) is what makes it work so well. This is the overriding theme/strength that runs through all of Crowe's movies from Say Anything to Elizabethtown (his last as of this writing) with varying results.
Tom Cruise plays the title character; a successful and egotistic sports agent fired from a prominent firm after a publicly displayed crisis of conscious labels him as a liability. He entices secretary Dorothy Boyd (Rene Zellweger) and a single client Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr) to join his newly formed agency that struggles to keep up with the competition. Maguire, having lost the basis of what previously made him so self-assured, is forced to re-evaluate his priorities and the meaning of the relationships with those closest to him.
The movie has been so assimilated into popular culture that it is hard to imagine anyone not recognizing the lines "You had me at hello" and "Show me the money." Arguably, these quotes (and several others in the film) are so clichéd by now that many cringe when hearing them. Though this level of familiarity marginally weakens its allure, this is not meant to imply that I dislike Jerry Maguire and have watched it often over the years.
I've owned it on DVD since its original release, though I never find myself reaching to pop the disc in the player. Yet I've seen the film more times than I can remember as it is a staple on many cable channels or often playing at a friend's house. Unless you have been locked away from television or DVD over the last decade, chances are you've viewed Jerry Maguire in one medium or another probably multiple times.
In addition to some of the film's references having become hackneyed, I could contend Maguire is a bit dated, suffering the trappings of the mid 90's, and seems overproduced or too slick at times. Nonetheless, all of these criticisms fade into the background once I start watching and become absorbed by the entertainingly realized character portrayals. However, it is doubtful anyone is reading this review to find out if Jerry Maguire is a good movie. You want to know how it holds up in high definition and if it is worth your money and/or time on Blu-ray.
Sony/Tristar presents Jerry Maguire on Blu-ray framed at 1.85:1 with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode. To its benefit, this transfer has a very natural film-like quality that provides a generally satisfying viewing experience. I realize that as we see more well mastered catalog titles released on Blu-ray, the immediately following sentence will probably begin to sound as clichéd as the quotes previously referenced. The movie looks as good as it ever has and probably can look in high definition but does not equal the best of Blu-ray we currently have.
I did a comparison to the DVD version, and the high definition 1080p transfer shows improved color, detail and contrast and basically looks better across the board than its standard definition predecessor. Color saturation is impressive throughout though black levels can have minor inconsistencies from scene to scene. My biggest complaint is that a few of the darker scenes have issues with shadow areas resolving properly which results in loss of detail.
Jerry Maguire's visual feel is grainy, but this is inherent to the film stock used and represents the transfer's source material rather than being a detriment. There are rare moments where grain becomes a bit distracting but never offensive. The movie also has a slightly soft look about it, but I think this is due to Crowe's visual style rather than any flaw in the 1080p transfer. Medium to close-up shots show a good amount of detail which was lacking in the DVD.
We should remember that Jerry Maguire is not meant to look razor sharp and overly clean like many new releases. This is a very good Blu-ray video presentation of a twelve year old movie that is faithful to its source material with inherent limitations and benefits included. It is to Sony's credit that they allow the transfer to stand on its own merits and did not try to digitally enhance or alter it.
Audio options are presented in English, French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are included in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Indonesian, Arabic and Dutch.
The English TrueHD audio delivers the dialog as consistently crisp and clear through the front channels. This is what we should expect with this being a dialog driven movie. Crowe's distinctive use of classic rock (the Who, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, etc) comes through across all channels, and some of the football scenes make use of the rear channels.
Since Jerry Maguire does not sport a very dynamic soundtrack, it is difficult to say that this movie really benefits from lossless audio. The music and sports scenes are exceptions, but otherwise the sub and rear channels are not actively utilized in this mix. The English Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is perfectly serviceable but not a reference quality high def audio track.
The extras are ported over from the previous 2 disc special edition DVD with all but the video commentary from Crowe, Cruise, Zellweger and Gooding Jr included. This commentary is comprised of the video of the actors/director while they record what is included here as the audio commentary with the movie playing in a small window at the bottom of the screen. All extras are presented in standard definition.
Director and Cast Audio Commentary: Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise, Rene Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. provide a feature length commentary. The director and cast had a very good time recording the track and spend about as much time laughing as talking. You get a really good feel for how much they enjoyed making the movie and revisiting it for this special feature. Personally this is not the type of commentary track that interests me. I prefer more detailed commentaries that go into the background, production, etc of the movie.
There are tidbits of that type of detail here and there throughout this track, but it exists mostly to let listeners enjoy the movie with the camaraderie of the participants who recorded it. I think this commentary works much better in its video format that, as mentioned above, was not included on the Blu-ray. The video allows you to see the facial expressions of the director/cast that blend well with the audio content. For those that find many audio commentaries to be overly dry and too bogged down in production details, this track may work very well for you.
Jerry Maguire's Mission Statement: A visual representation of the mission statement from the movie with optional audio of Springsteen's Secret Garden. The controls are simple and allow for turning the pages forward and backwards.
Rod Tidwell's Commercial (0:51): A short but humorous commercial parodying products that Tidwell might have endorsed.
How To Be A Sport's Agent (3:40): Video of real life sports agent, Drew Rosenhaus, explaining his profession. I am not sure of when this was recorded, but I am guessing sometime during the filming of the movie due the reference to the technology of the mid 90's. Interesting to watch for the obvious inspiration of the sport agent characters in the movie.
Making of Featurette (7:15): A short featurette which basically exists for promotional purposes. During its brief length there are more clips from the movie than any real "making of" information.
Deleted Scenes (8:45): Five deleted scenes with two being an extension of ones included in the movie and three including previously unseen footage. There is optional commentary from Crowe and editor Joe Hutshing that adds minimal value. The best of these is an extended take of Bob Sugar(Jay Mohr) juggling phone calls from various clients. This was included in the movie but goes on much longer here to very hilarious results.
Rehearsal Footage (2:00): Three short clips encompassing rehearsal footage of speeches from Jerry departing SMI, the "Kwan" and "Show Me The Money." Video and audio quality is poor but the content is worth watching. Optional commentary from Crowe and Hutshing is included.
Secret Garden Video (4:30): Video of movie's theme song by Bruce Springsteen.
BD Live: There is currently no online context exclusive to the movie.
Though not my favorite of Cameron Crowe's films, Jerry Maguire is always enjoyable to revisit. Sony gives us a consistent 1080p transfer that is faithful to the director's intent and decent, if not overly impressive, lossless audio. The majority of the extras from the previous DVD special edition are included as well. Fans of the movie will be satisfied with the upgrade to high definition on this Blu-ray release.
- Robert Searle
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