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on March 12, 2007
Exactly how in the world did I never see this movie before? Reputation has made this out to be "the ultimate chick flick" upon which every other tear-jerker is judged. But it's definitely more of a character study than a weepy mushy movie. In fact, it's anything but mushy. Where it could of been over-sentimental, it was poignant. Where it could of been boring, it was insightful. And where it could of been corny, it was tongue-in-cheek. I don't think I need to say anything about the acting in it, if you've seen Terms of Endearment you know that Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson bring their characters to a life rarely seen in movies. I just can't get over how great this movie was. The story is so good, it's so funny and at times among some of the saddest moments I've ever seen portrayed in the movies. I don't want to go any further for fear that I might spoil it for those who haven't seen this incredible story about life and love and laughter among family. This is an AMAZING and moving film!
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on April 27, 2001
Another film that made me cry! If you've read my reviews on KRAMER VS. KRAMER and RAIN MAN, then you know my story. But, yes, it's happened again! Another Best Picture Oscar-winner has allowed me to shed my tears freely and openly.
Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show), TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is a "family" film that deals with a 30-year relationship between a flighty mother and her headstrong daughter, played to perfection by Shirley MacLaine as Aurora Greenway, and Debra Winger as her daughter Emma Horton. The film begins by establishing the relatonship between the neurotic Aurora with her young daughter.
It makes you laugh and it makes you cry! Either way, the film deserves its kudos. Created by future SIMPSONS producer James L. Brooks, we see the emotional turmoil that both Aurora and Emma face in their love lives.
The cast consists of: Jack Nicholson, as Aurora's zany cosmonaut boyfriend Garrett Breedlove (a role originally intended for Burt Reynolds [YIKES!]), Jeff Daniels as Emma's philandering husband Flap Horton, John Lithgow as Emma's lover Sam Burns, and Danny DeVito, in a delightful cameo, as Vernon Dahlart.
After a while, though, the film does tend to drift a bit. You have to be patient considering that the final climax, in which Emma loses her fight with cancer, is the blow that sent me (and possibly millions of other viewers) into tears. Watch Aurora's face; watch Emma's, and you'll know exactly what they're saying without them even saying a word. Simply devastating!
Winner of 5 Academy Awards including: three for director Brooks for Best Picture (as producer), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Actress - Shirley MacLaine (also nominated against costar Debra Winger); and Best Supporting Actor - Jack Nicholson (nominated against costar John Lithgow).
All in all, in a year (1983) where TERMS was up against THE RIGHT STUFF, THE BIG CHILL, THE DRESSER, SILKWOOD, EDUCATING RITA, and FANNY AND ALEXANDER, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT proved that even a "soap opera" film can be the best! So true.
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on December 20, 1999
James Brooks, who of late gave us AS GOOD AS IT GETS, has an uncanny way of sketching characters that are believable, and completely winning, despite their many foibles. TERMS is filled with such people, and is so deft at winning your affections that it is virtually impossible not to feel that lump in your throat -- if not tears rolling down your cheek -- as it makes its way to its manipulative but moving nonetheless finale. Each performer works to his/her potential, and the supposed fireworks between Debra Winger (who inhabits her role so intensely she IS Emma) and Shirley MacLaine -- who won an Oscar -- works perfectly on screen. Jeff Daniels pulls off a neat trick, and manages to be both reprehensible as Emma's multi-flawed husband, but also engenders your sympathy vote as the movie wears on. Jack Nicholson (also Oscar winner) and MacLaine combatively explore one of the funniest romances ever; the screenplay's distinctive sense of humor adds much charm and much needed comic relief from the increasingly depressing proceedings. Michael Gore's already-classic theme music can still inspire tears and resound with humanity. This movie feels absolutely commercial, and twists your heart in way that few movies do -- we are talking majorly sad sad sad -- AS BAD AS IT GETS, so to speak. Yet, in the final moments, Brooks does give the movie a sweet and surprising lift, and nearly promises hope to these characters, most of whom we have grown to love.
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on April 19, 2016
Tremendously moving, often very funny, and bursting at the seams with life, both good and bad. No one is a hero or a villain, every character is just a screwed up human being trying their best, often failing, but picking themselves back up and trying again.

At the core this is the study of a very prickly mother daughter relationship, but it branches out to cover the men in their lives, friendships with other women, etc. The performances are just about universally superb. Some splashy and fun (Jack Nicholson, Shirley MacLaine), others just slightly lower key but still just slightly bigger than life in that good, movie way (Debra Winger), and still others are so simple and quiet they routinely get overlooked, but are little gems as well (Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow).

The film has a wonderful way of never going quite where you expect it, as it traces 30 years of life. Serious scenes turn funny, funny scenes end up making you cry, and no one ends up where they, or we, would have guessed. Especially in more recent, revisionist reviews, the film is often attacked for being sappy or melodramatic, but the older I get the more I see that life itself can be sappy and melodramatic, and if those elements are dealt with honestly they can translate real emotions, and can be part of a terrific film.

The only nit-pick I have is a few of the very small roles are clichés (e.g. the upper-class ‘young ladies’ Winger’s character meets in New York). But when that’s the worst you can find to say about a 130 minute film, you’re in a pretty great place. One hell of a feature debut for James L. Brooks.
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on August 15, 2000
I first saw "Terms of Endearment" in the theatre when it first came out at Christmas 1983 and thought it was an excellent picture. Then,saw it several years later on home video and I still think so. I even gave a copy of the video to my sister for a birthday present(along with some other of her favorite movies). A lot of the credit should go to James L. Brooks who was the writer and director.Mr. Brooks was a writer on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the '70's and wrote the enjoyable movie "Starting Over" in 1979.
Shirley MacLaine stars as Aurora and Debra Winger is her daughter Emma and the story is about their relationship over many years.The two leads both gave fabulous performances. Ms.MacLaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress(her one and only win) and Ms. Winger was nominated.Jack Nicholson gave a very funny,likable performance as the former astronaut who lives next door to Aurora. Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role(a role that Burt Reynolds turned down due to a prior commitment.Reynolds regretted it later because the movie he turned the role down for turned out to be a flop).Actors John Lithgow and a then unknown Jeff Daniels also give good performances in supporting roles.
However, the real kudos go to James L.Brooks who won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay Adaptation(from the novel by Larry McMurtry)and for Best Director,very impressive since this was his directorial debut.And,it also won Best Picture of the year.The story has many funny moments,sad moments,and intense moments,just like in real life.Mr.Brooks went on to write and direct "Broadcast News" in 1987 and "As Good As It Gets" in 1997 which were both very good pictures also.There was a sequel to "Terms of Endearment" some 16 years later in 1996 called "The Evening Star" with Ms.MacLaine and Mr. Nicholson but with a different writer and director."The Evening Star" was no classic but "Terms of Endearment" truly is.
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on May 30, 2016
I rate this 4 though the movie was good for the simple reason that there is no concentration at all concerning Flaps background. No familyis ever mentioned. The two married and the concern was Aurora not being at the wedding. There arefamily dinners etc but Flapnever has anyone there for him not even a best friend? Also though Pasy has some friends in New York through her eprofessional work whatever that is as that isn't explored either, Emma only has her...she has no outside social life except Flap and the children and some discourses with Mom and Rosey the household helper or maid...

The Evening Star follows similar only worse as the young girl (her name slips my mind) has absolutly no female friends...the only soc ializawtion she has is with her bf who later on dumps her. There is NEVER nop mention in either movie about outside soc ialization. BGoth movies to me were one dimensional in characterization.
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on June 7, 2014
I have to let you in on a secret. This is probably what is known as a "chick" flick, but I loved it and I am a guy. My wife and I take turns picking out what we will watch in the evening, sort of "dinner and a movie" kind of thing. This was her night to choose and it was really great. We had seen it before, but in blu-ray it is really something. The cast is one of the best you could ever hope for and the story is just wonderful. I rate this on a must have for your film collection. Hope you like it as much as we do.
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on October 29, 2015
I have seen this five or six times .. I am never board and always seen something new. Debra Winger is awesome , Jack Nicholson is awesome and
Shirley Mac Lain gives and Academy award winning performance.
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on March 29, 2007
This 1983 release was ahead of its time. It most definitely has a message for today's society. I did not so much GET it over twenty years ago when viewing it in the theater as I did when watching it on the DVD as a middle aged movie buff. Shirley MacLaine plays a somewhat flighty but still most desirable middle aged woman whose conflict with her sweet if not naive daughter, played by Debra Winger, is sometimes stormy but always loving. Jack Nicholson, as the next door neighbor, is outstanding as always and is a sleezy womanizing former astronaut who befriends Ms. MacLaine but by movie's end it is clear he loves her and is perhaps a changed man. A younger Jeff Daniels is convincing as Winger's cheating husband as is John Lithgow as the man taken with her innocent charms. This movie will make you laugh and cry and the musical score is one you will never forget. All serious movie buffs should have a copy of this.
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on July 12, 2013
Looking for a movie to watch, I picked up Terms of Endearment (DVD) at the store. I looked at the back and noticed it won multiple Oscars. While I expected this to be a well made movie, I did not know this was a tearjerker. My mother and sister both started to cry in the end and this might not a suitable movie for a young and sensitive child. If you do watch it with a younger audience, I would encourage to talk and discuss the movie afterwards!

Terms of Endearment is a movie about relationships, most specifically the relationship between a daughter and her mother. Aurora Greenway and her daughter Emma have been extremely attached to each other since the day little Emma was born. Her mother is very protective but loving over her. As for the father, he passed away when Emma was a child. Much to her mother's dislike, Emma marries Flap, a man who will get her out of her sheltered home and into the world. She is absolutely in love with talk and words despite him deep down being rather boring and not very successful in his job of being a college professor. Aurora refuses to attend the wedding and is disgusted when Emma announces her pregnancy. Eventually, Emma moves to Iowa and her best friend, Patsy, moves to New York to become rich due to her career driven personality. This makes an interesting comparison to Emma, who decides to be a stay at home mother instead. As the movie continues, it shows how both Aurora and Emma's lives play out in both good and bad times of their life. One of the highlights is Aurora's romance with the neighbor Garrett who happens to be an retired astronaut who also enjoys swimming and dating women. But it is pretty obvious by the end of the film that no women had touched his heart like Aurora before. Closing up the movie, tragedy hits.

This movie has absolutely beautiful performances by Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, and many others. The characters are extremely real and complex. There is no good or bad to this. It is all one big grey area. The characters we love did bad things, the characters we could not stand did good things. Just like in real life, of course. It will make you laugh, cry, and just all around care for this family. This movie is definitely not afraid of being sentimental and pulling on our heart strings. There are scenes in this that you know were shot to get us to cry out and feel bad for the characters. Not to mention, the soundtrack! Oh the soundtrack. I hear it get criticized often for being a little much but I enjoyed it. Terms of Endearment is a tearjerker and it is proud!

I would highly recommend watching this movie to anyone who loves their family or a good movie. It makes a good mother/daughter movie, I am sure we can all relate even if we have not been in these exact situations ourselves. I loved this movie and I hope you do too.
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