Who Remembers Jerry Maguire?
For those unfortunate to have never heard of it before, Jerry Maguire is a movie from 1996 written/directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Tom Cruise. The story focuses on a high profile sports agent as he has a crisis of conscience concerning his personal life and the industry he works in. If you've ever heard the infamous 90's catchphrase "show me the money!" that's where it came from.
Personally, I'm a big fan of the movie. Or I should say...I'm a fan of half of the movie. (I'll get more into that later.) At the start of the movie Jerry's life appears to be perfect. He's working at the top of his field representing huge names in sports, making a lot of money, and about to be married to a type-A careerist. However, he's torn about the way his agency treats its clients. They aren't considered people. Just tools to make money. These feelings lead him to conflict with his fiance, who is more concerned about their shared success than his well-being. Through the course of the film, Jerry is forced to re-evaluate what it means to be a sports agent by embracing an under-appreciated athlete who he himself ignored while also falling in love with a single mother who believes in.
Essentially, the story is divided into two parts: Jerry's personal life and his professional life. As a sports fan, I love the professional side of this movie. It's great to see how the sports industry works while also seeing the growing (and sometimes rocky) relationships with his clients. The personal side of the movie? Not so much. It's a sappy love story. Which is fine and all...just not for me. I'm a guy. What can I say?
Now if you're wondering why I'm talking about Jerry Maguire in the first place it's this: even though I only enjoy half of this movie, I still recognize the importance of the other half. This is a story about a man's complete journey. Professionally and personally. They compliment each other and even bleed into one another. If you removed all the scenes about Jerry's personal life, the movie as a whole would suffer. And for those reasons it's important to note that while we might not enjoy every part of a story, we still have to acknowledge the purpose they serve.
As writers it's easy to focus on our favorite moments in our work, whether it be developments in plot or changes in a character. What we "want" to have happen. But it helps to remember that a story is like a complete organism. Sure. Everyone knows the brain and heart are the sexy organs. But you need a pancreas and kidneys too. Sometimes you have to develop parts of your story that aren't as interesting to you to make sure it pays off in the long run. Even if it involves something as boring as love and marriage as opposed to the vital parts of life. You know...like football.
What about you? Can you think of any stories you love that have uninteresting yet essential aspects to it? Let me know. I'd love to hear them.