This was a modern day morality play.

You start out with a guy on top of the world. He's a superstar sports agent with million dollar clients and a totally hot babe who's a wildcat in bed; he's living the life. Then he finds a conscience, becomes a pussy, and loses it all. Then he faces facts, sells out and gets it all back.

Good boy.

The film, and the character, is Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise's latest chance at immortality. Man, we've seen little Tommy grow up, haven't we?

I mean first he was the rambunctious kid in Risky Business, then the cocky young pilot in Top Gun, then the concerned young brother in Rain Man, then the blood sucking vampire in Interview With the Vampire, a role he liked so much, he signed on to play another blood sucker, this one an agent, in Jerry Maguire.

But you know, watching all his movies, as one is required to do in America, he's actually gotten quite good. And this may be his best work yet. Jerry Maguire is a full-bodied, well thought out and well crafted character. We care about him. When he succumbs to the charms of decency and wimps away from the glamour of his job, we feel his pain. And laugh at him when he goes broke for being such a putz. Well, I laughed, others around me seemed to think he was being noble. Yeah whatever, did you see the knockers on his ex? No sane man would toss those away.

Not only is Tom-Tom's performance great, but there are two younger stars in the making. First, the little love interest, played by relative newcomer Renee Zellweger. She's a wonderful character as well, a widowed mother at 26 raising a little boy (who is just a cute and funny as can be). Her look is unique, not exactly classically beautiful more... dowdy than anything else, but you wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers. Unless they were, like, crackers with pictures of Barney on them or something.

But as good as she is, and as good as Bonnie Hunt is as her older sister, the movie is almost stolen by Cuba Gooding Jr. as the rookie wide receiver with an attitude who stays with Jerry when all the other clients leave. Cuba is blessed with many gifts, not the least of which is the name of a country. That's cool.

But remember, this is Tommy's movie. And he sucks it in, and gives a gift to the audience so wonderful, it's like he's in the aisles handing out Junior Mints. The direction is also wonderful, as perpetual youngun Cameron Crowe (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Singles) matures with both his directing and his writing. Although this is a movie that shows better than it reads, as I read the script for it a while back and it stunk up a big pile of mulch. But it plays wonderfully, and that's all that matters.

And of course, while writing this movie, he got to hang around the greatest sports agents in the profession for a couple of years, going to parties, meeting the players. Man, you gotta commend someone for going through with all that research. I hear his next flic is an in-depth report on the world of Playboy Bunnies.

In truth, this sad, sad tale is a lesson for all to learn. When you have it all, and are making the big bucks, and have babes by the score doing things to and for you that have been outlawed in most of the lower 48 states, you keep your mouth shut and thank God!!! You do NOT write a mission statement that ruins everything! Oh, what, a scruple rears its ugly head when your star player won't sign a kid's card because its made by the wrong company? Tough! Swallow that scruple and collect the checks!

As Cuba so brilliantly puts it:

Show Me The Money!!!!!

Jerry Maguire wins a whopping 4 1/5 Babylons. This was a good movie for the whole family, and young and old can enjoy it. Plus there's lots of sports celebs making cameos, and that's always fun.

Editor's Note:

You know, I don't think The Self-Made Critic got the point of this movie.

We all liked it here in the office as well, but we had a different feel for what it was trying to say than he seems to have. But what can you do? Mr. Self-Made spends each moment of his sad and lonely life trying to get all the things Jerry has in the beginning of the movie. Namely lots of money and a babe who views the Kama Sutra as a nice little starting point.

So naturally, it disturbs him when someone gives all that up for something as intangible as morals.

Don't tell him we told you that, he'd get mad. We wouldn't print it here, but we're pretty sure he never reads his own web site.