Terms of Endearment (1983) from Tuna

I can't possibly improve on Maltin's Summary:

"Wonderful mix of humor and heartache follows the relationship of a mother and daughter over the years. Consistently offbeat and unpredictable, with exceptional performances by all three stars; first-time director Brooks also wrote the screenplay from Larry McMurtry's novel. Won Oscars for MacLaine, Nicholson, Screenplay, Director, and Best Picture. Sequel: THE EVENING STAR. 4 stars."

In first time director and screenplay writer James L. Brooks own words, it was supposed to be a comedy that dealt truthfully with cancer, so it was a challenge to keep it funny. He accomplished that by being unpredictable, and with very clever writing. The night before Winger's wedding, MacLaine tells her, "You are not special enough to overcome a bad marriage." She then decides not to attend her daughters wedding, as the hypocrisy had been bothering her anyway. 


MacLaine, in addition to several pokies, had a real nip slip while fighting in the surf with Nicholson.
In a classic first date scene between MacLaine and Nicholson, we have:  

Nicholson: "You're gonna have to trust me on this ... you need a lot to drink."
MacLaine: "To break the ice?"
Nicholson: "To kill the bug you have up your ass."

And, late in the film, as Winger is dying of cancer, Shirley tells her son-in-law, "Working full time, raising three children and chasing women requires a lot more energy than you have."

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length director commentary

Watch for small parts by Danny DeVito and John Lithgow. I had seen the film before, and knew I would be having a rare chance to watch an outstanding film today, but I didn't realize that 

Winger lost Best Actress to Maclaine, and the vote must have been close. Director Brooks mentioned in the commentary that Winger tried the entire film to get to MacLaine, but that Shirley never lost it once on camera. In addition to the five Oscars the film won, it was nominated for 6 others.   

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.2, 
  • With their dollars ... The film was made for $8.5m, and, including rentals, has grossed $158.65m
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description,  I will score this a B+. There is no A, just like there is no perfect 1, but this film is a high B+.

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