Okay, I like romantic movies. I even cry at some of them. So sue me.
Good. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can talk about this movie. For people who have watched it, all I have to do to specify my favourite scene is mention a single line: You had me at hello. For those who haven’t, here’s an explanation. (Beware: Here be spoilers!)
Jerry Maguire represents one of the best entries in its genre. It tells the story of a high-flying sports agent who loses everything he has when he has a conscience attack and advises his firm to actually care for their clients. Only two people stick with him – a second-rate American football player named Rod Tidwell, and a single mom named Dorothy who is in love with him. He waits for Tidwell to come around and perform. She waits for him to come around and love her back. That they both end up doing it at around the same time, and that the former happens in the closing minutes of an important match goes without saying.
The standout scene, for me, comes right at the end when Jerry has finally realized that his life is incomplete without Dorothy. He rushes back home to find her and win her back, only to find that he has to do it in front of a bunch of divorced women who meet regularly to bitch about men. After a shaky start, he hits his stride and talks about how one of the greatest moments of his professional life felt incomplete without her:
Jerry: Hello. I’m looking for my wife.
Jerry: If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I’m not letting you get rid of me. How about that?
Jerry: This used to be my specialty. I was good in a living room. And now, I just… Tonight… our little company had a very big night. A very, very big night. But it wasn’t complete. It wasn’t nearly close to being complete. Because I couldn’t share it with you. I couldn’t hear your voice. I couldn’t laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world. And we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You… complete me. And I just…
Dorothy: Shut up! You had me at “hello”. You had me at “hello”.
I don’t like it much when movies don’t earn their endings. But when a well-crafted one reaches its happy ending, it’s quite a high. Hearing Renee Zellweger’s voice break on that last line and seeing her features crack into a smile represents one of the most satisfying moments of my movie-watching experience.