Everybody Loved him. Everybody disappeared. The journey is everything.
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 realises how disingenuous and corrupt the sports agent business is.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.This film provides examples of:
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.
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.
Billing Displacement: Zellweger was almost a complete unknown when she got the part of Dorothy (her first major role), and at the time the movie was released it was marketed almost exclusively as a Tom Cruise vehicle. As she's since become a major star in her own right, DVD cases and the like now bill the two leads equally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crowe wanted Billy Wilder to play the part of Dicky Fox, Jerry's mentor (seen in flashbacks), but despite both his and Tom Cruise's efforts, Wilder turned them down. Crowe wrote about the experience for Rolling Stone, which led to him writing a book about Wilder, so it didn't turn out too badly.