Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.
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. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The shifty, funny/serious tone of "Terms Of Endearment" caught a lot of people off guard in 1983 and word-of-mouth about it being a seriously good tearjerker/comedy was strong (opening near Christmas probably didn't hurt it come Oscar time either!). But since then, TV sitcoms have been mining this kind of flippant, edgy, raw sense of dynamics ("Roseanne" comes to mind), and "Terms" doesn't seem as fresh. Watching it again the other night, I couldn't help feeling that some of the juice was missing, or that Shirley MacLaine's Aurora Greenway was actually more of an irritant than a sympathetic harridan. But on closer inspection, the lives of these characters are quite endearing, and the tender music on the soundtrack always underlines a poignant scene at just the right moment. Vivid Debra Winger is incredible as MacLaine's daughter, as are John Lithgow, Jeff Daniels, Jack Nicholson, and Danny DeVito (in a small but telling part). As for MacLaine, I think she makes a few missteps in her characterization, and I didn't like the scene where she leaves her own birthday party in a huff and finds herself at Nicholson's door--it feels put on--or her famous scene with Jack driving on the beach, which is highly improbable. However, her determined will and loving possessiveness/detachment towards her daughter makes her a complicated and colorful bundle of nerves. The picture is flawed, yet has scenes of worth and love, many memorable lines of dialogue, and shows a real skill for balancing different moods. *** from ****
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