The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The (Dis)Comfort of Hate

Written by: The CinCitizens


MORE UPDATES!! – 3/21/06

  • Cuba Gooding Jr.: Jerry Maguire

Cuba Gooding Jr. won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1996 for playing a loud, obnoxious, braying showboat in Jerry Maguire. The Academy must have seen the film and assumed that his performance represented a daring and challenging feat for him.

If only they had known.

By looking at Cuba Gooding Jr.’s post-Maguire filmography, it becomes clear that the best case scenario for his performances is that he will be merely forgettable (As Good as it Gets, What Dreams May Come). However, more often than not, he will find a way to make good films bad (I was going to put some examples of good films Cuba has been in here, but I couldn’t find any), and bad films far worse (Instinct, Chill Factor, Snow Dogs, Boat Trip, Rat Race, Pearl Harbor, etc).  Every single time I have seen Cuba act, I have had to wince in pain as he bellows and flails around as though he’s the kid in the prom who can’t hope to get a girl with suavity, and so attempts to make them laugh with his self-mocking attempts to dance. Except, while that prom kid was only trying to get laid, Cuba is trying to entertain us, and is pocketing millions of dollars to fail in that attempt. (He’s like a less restrained Will Ferrell, and we all know how much I love THAT guy…)

And yet…Jerry Maguire works so well, it almost makes me angry. Whether or not he’s acting or the director just cut him loose, the fact remains that he does a great job in his role as the spoiled NFL Wide Receiver, and when he famously learns a bit of humanity, the audience believes it. In retrospect, it was Cuba’s last moment on earth, with the rest of us.

  • Tom Cruise in Romantic Roles: Jerry Maguire

Full disclosure: I have never wanted to like Tom Cruise. He is a man with an enormous ego who is fully aware of just how gorgeous everyone thinks he is.  He has said in interviews that he is “worth” twenty million dollars per movie role, and he has cultivated his movie star image so much that it is simply impossible to believe a single thing he says; the more sincere he sounds, the more contrived we believe it to be. And now, with his insane Scientology ramblings and his incredibly contrived “romances” with various starlets of various generations, he becomes ever more a caricature of exactly the person he pretends he actually is.

This is never more clear than when he tries to play a romantic lead. (I will fully admit that Cruise has done some great action work – the first Mission Impossible comes immediately to mind – but this is a specific thesis, and so they will be overlooked here). The single most important thing an actor needs to be a good romantic lead is to be believable. If we “normal folk” can’t relate to him and his dilemma, then we won’t care about the movie.  Cruise the actor has so fully transcended Cruise’s character now, that unless he’s jumping from buildings or fighting off aliens, there’s no way we’re going to buy what he’s trying to accomplish. He can keep his Eyes Wide Shut all he wants, but he will always be, Far and Away, the most artificial of human beings. (It’s no accident that the best acting performance he’s ever given was in Magnolia, as a self-obsessed, womanizing asshole with a huge narcissistic streak.)

But again, Jerry Maguire seems to transcend this somehow.  He plays a pompous ass who’s forced to rediscover that he’s mortal. In love, he loses the vapid beauty queen, “settles” for the “plain” Renee Zellweger, and discovers a capacity to love another as an equal. (The fact that he pulls this off shows that he really is an actor, underneath all the layers of “movie star.”) His performance was so convincing that it became a huge anomaly, and even director Cameron Crowe was fooled, casting him in his next project, the unfortunate Vanilla Sky. But be that as it may, Cruise, and this movie, work on all levels.

In conclusion, I always used to be amazed by mixing cranberry juice and club soda together. Apart, I didn’t like to drink either, but combined, it was a perfect drink. Maybe that’s the key to Jerry Maguire: apart, Cruise and Gooding Jr. are duds, but together, they cancel out each other’s weaknesses, and it works.

Does anyone else smell a remake of The Defiant Ones?


  • Neve Campbell: Hosting Saturday Night Live – (By Talleri McRae, special to CC2k)

Neve Campbell. Do I even need to mount an argument for her being a bad actor? Can we all agree that she comes from the Fred Savage school of acting, or "I'm going to say every line as if I am very confused/upset, and it will seem like I am reacting to the moment at hand."

The reason she's so brilliant on SNL is that she doesn't change a THING in her approach. Sketch comedy or Fox drama, it's the same crinkled brow, the same heavy breathing in between words to indicate a general type of emotion.

(Talleri may be brief, but she sure packs a whallop!)

Author: The CinCitizens

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