Like "Vanilla Sky," Cameron Crowe's "Jerry Maguire" also tries to dispense some existential, quasi-Eastern wisdom...but with much more mixed results. Much of the movie truly stretches the viewer's credulity; we are often left wondering, "Is he serious? Now WHY in the world would he/she do THAT?" In other words, the characters are not well-developed enough to make their actions and decisions readily believable. These 2-dimensional cardboard characters also have an unfortunate habit of delivering painfully florid and verbose pseudo-philosophical mini-soliloquys out of nowhere.
Cruise is not really as well-chosen for this character as he was in "Vanilla Sky" either---here, he just tries WAY too hard, ridiculously overacting almost in every scene. His permanent, bread-and-butter Alpha-Male swagger never leaves him, even when he's supposed to be at rock-bottom, like at a scene when he shows up at Zelleger's house drunk after losing both his job and his fiance in the same day.
Then there is the romance between Cruise and Zelleger's characters, which is the main box-office draw of this film, and its most cringe-triggering device. This part of the script, even more so than the rest of the film, must've been directly written by a bunch of focus groups...it includes just about every abominably cheesy, tear-jerking, schmaltzy cliche in the book. Ruthlessly and shamelessly manipulative, it almost destroys the rest of the film, which is actually not so bad.
The Designated Irresistible Kid who plays Zelleger's son IS truly adorable and would've put Maculay Culkin out of a work had he been born about a decade earlier. Him, Zelleger and especially Cuba Gooding Jr. are the main saving graces of this decent but deeply compromised film. Hopefully after this box-office smash, Cameron Crowe will have the clout to go back to making REAL movies, not focus-group-candy like this one.