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Terms of Endearment

December 9th, 1983

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Terms of Endearment

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Still of Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger in Terms of EndearmentStill of Debra Winger and Jeff Daniels in Terms of EndearmentStill of Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment

Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage...

Release Year: 1983

Rating: 7.3/10 (21,302 voted)

Critic's Score: 79/100

Director: James L. Brooks

Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson

Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy. Aurora's interludes with Garrett Breedlove, retired astronaut and next door neighbor are quite striking. In the end, different people show their love in very different ways.

Writers: Larry McMurtry, James L. Brooks

Shirley MacLaine - Aurora Greenway
Debra Winger - Emma Horton
Jack Nicholson - Garrett Breedlove
Danny DeVito - Vernon Dahlart
Jeff Daniels - Flap Horton
John Lithgow - Sam Burns
Lisa Hart Carroll - Patsy Clark
Betty King - Rosie Dunlop (as Betty R. King)
Huckleberry Fox - Teddy Horton
Troy Bishop - Tommy Horton
Shane Serwin - Younger Tommy Horton
Megan Morris - Melanie Horton
Tara Yeakey - Baby Melanie
Norman Bennett - Edward Johnson
Jennifer Josey - Young Emma

Taglines: Come to Laugh, Come to Cry, Come to Care, Come to Terms.

Release Date: 9 December 1983

Filming Locations: 1148 Heights Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA

Opening Weekend: $3,498,813 (USA) (27 November 1983) (260 Screens)

Gross: $108,423,489 (USA) (1984)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The MPAA originally gave this film an "R" rating due to strong language. It was reduced to "PG" on an appeal (the PG-13 rating did not exist at the time), an achievement often repeated by writer-director-producer James L. Brooks on his later films.

Continuity: When Garrett and Aurora are going to have a lunch at the restaurant, Aurora sits down the chair twice.

Aurora Greenway: Do you have any reaction at all to my telling you I love you?
Garrett Breedlove: I was just inches from a clean getaway.

User Review



Wow was my first reaction to seeing the film back in February 2003. I had bought it on a whim and watched it one night when I was bored. The rest is history. Terms remains one of my favorite films and I really can't say why. 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.

Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger give career performances as mother and daughter. Both characters are polar opposites and in real life the actresses despised each other, but on screen their chemistry sizzles. Jack Nicholson is his usual suave self and John Lithgow is perfect as the wimpy banker. Danny Devito also has a quirky cameo.

James L. Brooks is definitely an "actor's director". To him, the performances are clearly more important than set pieces or flashy camera work. Each of the three main performances are brilliant (especially MacLaine's). It has been decades since a movie about illness has been made like this that is so achingly real. Two scenes to look for: Aurora walking across a seedy hotel (heat-breaking) and Emma telling her mother that she's pregnant (hilarious).

Terms of Endearment is a triumph!

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