how to write a screenplay, Jerry Maguire, screenwriting, Story, storytelling, Writing, writing tips
If you were in your twenties when Jerry Maguire came out, or even in your late teens, you saw Jerry Maguire and started going around saying the catchphrases of “you had me at hello” and maybe even said to your person you were with then, “you complete me” basically the entire world was caught up in Jerry & Dorothy’s love story about a financially drowning & down and out sports agent & an accountant who get together after he writes a mission statement (which you can read here)It’s a great movie and still one of my all-time, 10 films on an island films that I would bring with me but have no way to watch as on an island there would be no electricity but it is that good.
I’m exploring a different angle here-the BROMANCE between Jerry & football player Rod Tidwell because it’s equally as strong and often overlooked when this film is discussed.
“Show me the money!”
Everyone knows the catchphrase of “show me the money” of course you do; even Disney made Winnie the Pooh plushies and merch that said show me the honey. That scene is legendary. Jerry is desperate, and Rod is showing us who he is, which is a great introduction to character by the way, by making Jerry beg and prove that he wants and deserves to be Rod’s sports agent.
This is the start of a beautiful relationship–oops, wrong movie, but you get the idea.
Let’s start there.
Jerry and Rod obviously already know each other but when we meet them and see them interact it’s our first time so their meet-cute is funny, well thought out, emotional, and shows us who Rod is as a character. We learn that his contract is almost up. We learn that he grew up in Arizona, wants to stay in Arizona, his wife is pregnant with their second child, and he’s a good guy as shown by him taking care of his brother who we see when Rod is complaining about the flood in TP’s room. It’s so well done that you probably didn’t even realize that you got all that information which makes Rod likable despite the way he is acting. As well, and this is probably the most important part of that scene, we learn that he is a man of his word, trustworthy, and loyal much like Dorothy.
Then you have Jerry & Rod in the beginning stages of their new relationship. Jerry thinks that he can’t financially survive without another athlete-Cushman, so he is going back and forth between them, but he makes a mistake and trusts Cush’s father and doesn’t get a signed contract. The scene where Jerry and Rod walk the floor at the Marriot the night before the draft you see that Jerry hasn’t really changed yet and isn’t focused on Rod. Rod feels it too but Jerry is only thinking about his bigger client. Jerry also drops a truth bomb on Rod about his behavior and the rather large chip that sits on his shoulder. It’s hard to watch because it’s so good. We leave the scene with Rod alone complaining about how he didn’t get any love from Chevy, Nike, Rebook, and it’s a bit sad and once again immediately stirs up empathy for Rod while we are rooting for Jerry and his number one draft pick.
The next time Jerry and Rod are together Jerry is complaining and drinking heavily in the airport while they wait for their flight. He wants to give up and we see Rod tell him the truth about his behavior. This continues on the plane where Rod literally says that he gave Jerry his word and he is going to stay with him despite feeling like his second choice.
The head of the Cardinals stands Jerry up and tells him that he isn’t going to give him the contract he is asking for. We see that Jerry is becoming desperate and not for the right reasons either. Sure he cares about Rod but mostly he is still focused on himself, he needs the money, and he could also lose Dorothy if there isn’t a contract offered that is really good.
In the famous “help me help you” scene, Jerry begs Rod to change his attitude and basically suck up to the coach of the Cardinals and we see once again that Rod, while difficult, has integrity, which makes us continue to like him.
As the story grows and Jerry can’t manage a decent deal for his only client, we see that Rod trusts Jerry, and they become friends who can tell each other anything with their friends’ hats on. Jerry asks Rod for advice as they walk off the set of a regional commercial in Arizona.
The scene is full of emotion and also a couple of funny lines about shoplifting the pooty and such, but it really shows us where Jerry is with Dorothy and Rod. He’s asking Rod for help and he knows, deep down Rod is right.
Then we see Rod singing at Jerry’s wedding. They are in the full throws of a bromance. They are close and in this together until Jerry starts going with Rod to every game and they argue about Jerry’s marriage and Rod says some hurtful things to Jerry so Jerry in return unloads on Rod about why he’s not making the Quan. This is their lowest moment and the couple (of friends) essentially break up. This is their lowest moment.
Finally, at a big Monday night football game, Jerry shows up as he literally has nothing left. Dorothy has broken up with him and he is really alone, so he goes to support Rod despite their relationship also not working. Rod gets hurt and Jerry is genuinely concerned for his friend. We see it in his face as well we see him actually become unselfish for the first time in the entire story. He puts his client first and it’s quite touching. Rod ends up being fine and Rob being Rod dances in the endzone and acts the fool while Marcy and everyone is happy. Jerry realizes that he only wants to talk to Dorothy because Rod got the winning touchdown he also knows that their little company now has a lot of money coming in. As well we see that snake Bob Sugar and Troy Aikman not having a special relationship which shows us that Jerry’s mission statement really was right the whole time.
The last scene of Rod and Jerry’s bromance is Rod on the talk show where athletes are always crying and he refuses to cry until he learns that Jerry got him an 11 million dollar deal for 3 years. He cries and then he thanks everyone in his family and finally calls out Jerry. Jerry is moved as the two are teared up. Rod calls Jerry his ambassador of Quan.
The reason that they worked so well together as a storytelling mechanism is that they helped each other grow. Rod learns to stop focusing on the wrong thing, money, and learns to love the game again and Jerry learns to stop focusing on money and learns to open up to others including his friend Rod and his wife, Dorothy. At the beginning of the film, Jerry seems popular and loved by all. The famous line by Eric Stoltz’s character “everybody loves you; pisses me off” is setting it up because as soon as Jerry is down he has not even one phone call. He has managed to keep everyone away from him. He can’t show real emotions and let people in. He says to Dorothy “what if I’m not built that way?” as he realizes that he’s about to lose her. He can’t even see it himself.
I believe and have for some time that it’s his real friendship with Rod that changes him. If it weren’t for Rod I don’t think he would have come around and realized how much he loves Dorothy. I honestly don’t cry at the “you had me at hello” line. I do, however, cry when Rod calls him his ambassador of Quan because it’s there that we really know Jerry has grown and changed for the better.
You can read more about Jerry Maguire on IMDB HERE Jerry Maguire was written and directed by Cameron Crowe Jerry Maguire-Tom Cruise Rod Tidwell-Cuba Gooding Jr. where he won the best supporting actor Oscar for his performance
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog. Happy writing! xo Stephanie
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