The 90s Rom-Com That Ruined My Generation

Shani Silver
5 min readOct 18, 2023

“You complete me.” Seriously?

I love a good quotable movie as much as the next ‘90s kid. But one thing that astounds me, as a writer but also as just a human, is how certain quotes can simply sound nice, and therefore be memorable, sharable, and qualify as life advice despite being utter nonsense. I don’t know how they get away with that shit.

Need examples?

“If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” I…I don’t think this is true.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” My dreams don’t scare me, Stacey, they inspire and motivate me. If I was afraid of them wouldn’t that hinder my pursuit of them a bit? Just a thought.

My generation suffers from an “all style, no substance” affliction when it comes to romantic comedies. My generation was also raised on romantic comedies. When you really think about what’s being said, rather than just how pretty it sounds, the wheels of your brain alive and well in 2023 really start to spin.

There are two lines from the ‘90s that I’d like to retire today. I find them both to be, not just nonsense from a substantive point of view, but also potentially harmful to human relationships if ever understood to be not just possible, but actually things to strive for. Both come from the same movie, the same scene in fact. They’re from Jerry Maguire, the 1996 film starring Renee Zellweger and Tom Cruise. It had everything a great ‘90s movie needed to have; comedy, drama, a cute wisecracking kid, Cuba Gooding Jr., everything. It was also full of terrible lines that have been quoted ever since.

Now, I could focus on this diamond in the dust bunny:

“I love him for the man he wants to be, and I love him for the man he almost is.”

Yes, please, let’s put loving someone that doesn’t exist and constantly wanting a person to change on a giant silver screen without even a hint of irony and convey the message that it’s a perfectly reasonable tenet of desire. Good god. But no, there are two more that put this one to shame, and they’re its 2nd & 3rd most quotable lines, after “Show me the money,” which was over the top in an amusing way and I’ve nothing wrong it.