Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Movies [Print without images]

Saturday, August 24, 2002
Updated: August 26, 1:33 PM ET
Page 2's Top 20 Sports Movies of All-Time


OUR COUNTDOWN: 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

No. 12: Jerry Maguire (88 points)

Year released: 1996.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Kelly Preston, Jerry O'Connell, Jay Mohr, Jonathan Lipnicki. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe.

What we like: Somehow they managed to turn a movie about a sports agent into a statement against the greed and selfishness that has overrun professional sports -- that's certainly no small task, but it actually works; Cruise and Gooding Jr. have excellent chemistry together, and Gooding captures the "chip-on-his-shoulder" attitude of some pro athletes perfectly in his Oscar-winning role; Zellweger highlights a strong supporting cast, including the young Lipnicki, who charms with such pearls as "Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds, Jerry?"; Mohr's Bob Sugar is a despicable character -- in other words, he perfectly portrays an all-powerful sports agent; the writing is strong, with such memorable quotes as "You had me at hello" and "It's not a memo, it's a mission statement;" somehow, they even managed to go back-and-forth between actual NFL clips and football close-ups with Gooding Jr. without things getting too clunky.

What we're willing to overlook: Well, there's that one memorable line that we still can't get out of our heads (we won't repeat it here) -- true, it was perfect for that scene, but we've heard it a million times too many.


Rod Tidwell might have been one of the five or six best characters in the history of sports movies. Cuba Gooding Jr. can never do another movie in his life, and he could still be living off Tidwell 30 years from now, as far as I'm concerned. -- Page 2 columnist Bill Simmons

A good love story and a good football movie in one neat package? No wonder The Sports Guy was so conflicted about this one. But just think of all those guys who were able to convince their girlfriends to actually go out and see a sports flick. -- Page 2 editor Kevin Jackson

Like "White Men Can't Jump," it tries to be about a lot of things at once: love, greed, desire, suspicion, trust, fame and personal enlightenment. It's a Cameron Crowe joint -- smart writing, charming, unpredictable situations -- so it succeeds about 80 percent of the time. -- Page 2 columnist Eric Neel

Tom Cruise almost pulls off making you forget he's Tom Cruise. -- Page 2 columnist Jeff Merron

Click here to go on to our No. 11 sports movie of all-time