Jerry: I love you. You... you complete me. And I just...
Dorothy: Shut up. Just... shut up. You had me at "hello."
So there's this sports agent (Tom Cruise) and he's got a pretty sweet deal going on. He's great at his job and it earns him a lot of money and respect, he's got a hot redheaded fiancee who's ready for a threesome and an admiring protege. This leads to a nervous breakdown which turns to an Epiphany Moment where he realizes how disingenuous and corrupt the sports agent business is. So he writes up a mission statement for his new outlook on life, which is met by applause in the office lobby and then-
Show Me The Money
-coming to that in a second - and then he gets fired. The money pot is gone and so goes the fiancee, while the respect was just arse kissing and the admiring protege turns out to be a total dick who steals all his clients. The only two clients who stay with Jerry are the brash, egotistical, loud-mouthed and materialistic Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and the top prospect for the NFL draft, good ole southern boy
Quinn Mallory Frank Cushman (Jerry O' Connell). The only person to follow him from the office when he strikes off to start his own firm is single mom Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), who decides that an inspiring letter and a chance meeting at an airport are worth risking the ability to feed her child. On the other hand, the child is Johnathan Lipnicki, a Morality Pet with a Bart Simpson haircut, so maybe he doesn't need food to survive. It's all part and parcel of the film's feel good na-
-okay, moving on. So Jerry thinks he has a great chance with this Cushman kid. His dad shakes his hand which in the Deep South means that they're married or something. Later on he's pimping the kid out to sports teams and horny oil barons when it turns out that Daddy Cush has signed a deal with the dastardly protege and that the handshake was just a way to get his DNA, even though he has a Southern accent,always plays nice guys like the dad from The Wizard (film) and is The Dude's brother. This leaves Jerry with only Tidwell, Dorothy and the Milky Bar kid and he has to-
-right, cutting to the chase.He spends the next few months having Unresolved Sexual Tension with Dorothy, having UST with Tidwell and playing Dad to the kid (no UST there, thank God!). So the guys shout catchphrases and black slang at each other a lot, he marries Dorothy while not actually committing to her and they all spend the next few months not earning any money and not feeling any love or joy to make up for it. Eventually Tidwell decides to stick by his sports agent while Dorothy decides to leave her husband. Tidwell kicks ass in his next game so much that it pretty much secures his and Jerry's futures and cements their man-love. Jerry remembers that agent-client man-love was part of his Epiphany Moment and so decides to do the feel good, inspiring thing and get back his wife. He goes to her place, gives her a Rousing Speech (plus the indication that he is now loaded) and tells her that she completes him. She informs him that the mere act of entering the abode and announcing salutation was an act of sufficient romanticism to rekindle their love.
They all live Happily Ever After with lots of money.
The film is noted for its feel good factor, placement way up on the idealistic end on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism and use of many memorable quotes like Tidwell's repeated use of Show Me The Money. The Other Wiki says that these lines are largely attributed to Cameron Crowe, director and screenwriter of the movie, this wiki takes the view that it's a good bet that the lines from the film have a link to the sole credited scriptwriter.
- Angry Black Man: Rod Tidwell.
- At one point, a male member of Rod's family is seen wearing a tee-shirt emblazoned DO NOT ARREST THIS MAN.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Subverted with Rod and Marcy. Despite the typical romcom setup pairing an egotistical jerk who's really a good guy and a woman who mood swings between anger and affection, they mostly get along very well with each other, if not with others.
- Beta Couple: Rod and Marcy.
- Betty and Veronica: Slightly subverted in that the two don't compete directly for Jerry's affections, but Dorothy (Betty) and Avery (Veronica) fit the character types.
- Bi the Way: Avery says if Jerry wanted her to she would 'totally' do the two girl thing for him, like she did in college.
- Big Game: Both played straight and subverted. At the end of the season the Cardinals play the Cowboys in a Big Game on Monday Night Football; however, it's NOT the Super Bowl or even a playoff game, just a regular season game that, should the Cardinals win it, will qualify them for the playoffs.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jerry's "friend" at work who fires him, who complains to Jerry that he has it hard too... after all, he has to go around for the next week pretending to be sad. Of course part of the impact of the scene is that it drives home to Jerry that he was Not So Different before his Epiphany Therapy and that he really was right to ditch the heartless corporate world.
- Calling Your Orgasms: Avery (played by Kelly Preston), in one scene.
- The Cameo: Loads and loads of them, mostly by famous athletes, coaches, broadcasters, and other sports figures.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Jerry, who's "great at friendship, bad at intimacy".
- As one of his former girlfriends says:
"He CAN'T say 'I love you'."
- Catch Phrase: "Show me the money!"
- Cheerful Child: Ray always manages to make Jerry and/or Dorothy smile.
- David Versus Goliath: The Cardinals are a perennial loser; the Big Game at the climax of the film is against the Dallas Cowboys, at the time the movie was made a powerhouse coming off of winning three Super Bowl championships in four years.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Since that time the Cowboys haven't come close to the Super Bowl, while the Cardinals made it in 2009.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dorothy's sister Laurel.
- Description Cut: After a brief encounter with Jerry in the airport, Dorothy says to Ray "whoever snagged him must be one classy babe." Cut to Jerry and Avery having wild sex, with the latter very loudly talking dirty.
- Dreadful Musician: Turns out Rod is a better football player than he is a singer.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Jerry, after he's fired by Bob Sugar.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Jerry and Dorothy both go through such hardships that, when they finally have the happy ending,its impossible not to come out with a grin the size of Texas on your face.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: The Cushmans, a stereotypical Texas family if ever there was one.
- Fan Service: For both genders - Tom Cruise, Kelly Preston, and Cuba Gooding Jr. all get naked at one point or another.
- Fiery Redhead: Avery Bishop.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Seemingly deconstructed at first - Jerry and Dorothy do seem to fall in love and marry awfully quickly, but it proves to be the bad idea that it is In Real Life when their relationship falls apart after they've tied the knot. Later played straight when they reconcile after Jerry's big "you complete me" speech at the end of the movie.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Jerry's sex with Avery is seen as being exhausted and unfulfilling, whereas he and Dorothy enjoy themselves.
- Happily Married: Rod and Marcy, and later, Jerry and Dorothy.
- Heel Realization: Jerry has one after the son of one of his clients (a hockey player with a concussion) tells him off.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Jerry.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Dorothy's sister gives Jerry a warning of this sort.
Laurel: You fuck this up, I'll kill you.
Jerry: I'm glad we had this talk.
- I Gave My Word: Cushman's father; unfortunately he doesn't mean it.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Avery again.
- Insistent Terminology: Call Chad an au pair or a child care technician if you like, but don't call him a babysitter.
- And it's not a memo. It's a mission statement.
- Instant Birth, Just Add Water: Marcy.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rod comes off as a stereotypical spoiled, self-centered, and greedy Jerk Jock at first, but he's actually fiercely loyal, upstanding, honest, and deeply devoted to his family.
- Just Plane Wrong: The next time you're flying coach like Dorothy is, see if you can hear anyone talking in first class like Dorothy does.
- Kitschy Local Commercial: At one point Rod walks off the set of an ad he's shooting for a local waterbed outlet because the owner of the store wants him to ride a camel in addition to wearing a turban.
- Large Ham: An Oscar winning piece served up by Cuba Gooding Jr., with Tom Cruise providing a second helping as the title character.
- Little Black Dress: Dorothy decides to wear one on her first date with Jerry.
- Meaningful Echo: "You complete me."
- Morality Pet: Ray acts as one towards Jerry at times.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Jerry has one of these moments after sending out his mission statement. It's punctuated by a bomb going off in the Action Movie he's watching with a well-timed "boom."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jerry was based on real-life sports superagent Leigh Steinberg.
- Opposing Sports Team: The Cardinals play several games throughout the movie, but the trope as usually played is averted in that none of the opposing teams is portrayed as particularly villainous or unsportsmanlike.
- Panicky Expectant Father: Rod, at one point.
- Parental Substitute: Lampshaded by Dorothy.
- Posthumous Character: Jerry's mentor, the late, great Dicky Fox.
- Race For Your Love: Jerry runs through a (curiously empty) airport to catch a plane so he can try to win Dorothy back at the end of the movie.
- Rousing Speech: A few of them, though mostly played for laughs.
- Sassy Black Woman: Marcy.
- Shirtless Scene: Cuba Gooding Jr., who got into extremely good shape for his role, has a few.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Dorothy, who identifies herself as such a few times.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Noted for being very idealistic despite portraying professional sports as a rather sleazy business.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Rod, at first - as the movie goes on however he begins to play up to his opinion of himself.
- Smug Snake: Bob Sugar, Jerry's former protege.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Chad's gift of old jazz recordings don't exactly set the mood for Jerry and Dorothy's first night together; played for laughs.
- The Stoner: Oddly enough, uptight Laurel, shown toking up in her kitchen.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Subverted. After successfully retaining an important client, Jerry tries to find some mood suitable music on the radio to which he can sing along. After going through several stations playing completely unsuitable songs, he finally settles on Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" - which isn't actually all that triumphant.
- Fridge Brilliance: Not only is it not all that triumphant, it perfectly captures the essence of Jerry's character, as a person who's "made it" but still feels unfulfilled and unhappy. Typically awesome soundtrack selection by Cameron Crowe.
- Tsundere: Marcy.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: While riding the elevator together, Jerry and Dorothy observe a deaf couple signing to each other. When Jerry wonders what they were saying, Dorothy, who knows sign language because her aunt was hearing impaired, tells him that the guy told his girlfriend "you complete me". As there is already a bit of Unresolved Sexual Tension between the two of them, much awkwardness ensues.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Shoplifting the pooty."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Rod and Jerry.
- What Have I Become?: Almost word for word:
Jerry: "What had I become - just another shark in a suit?"