7.4/10
51,305
195 user 55 critic

Terms of Endearment (1983)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 9 December 1983 (USA)
Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love, and her daughter's family problems.

Director:

James L. Brooks

Writers:

Larry McMurtry (based on the novel by), James L. Brooks (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
2,881 ( 43)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 27 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Betty King ... Rosie Dunlop (as Betty R. King)
Huckleberry Fox ... Teddy Horton
Troy Bishop ... Tommy Horton
Shane Serwin Shane Serwin ... Younger Tommy Horton
Megan Morris Megan Morris ... Melanie Horton
Tara Yeakey Tara Yeakey ... Baby Melanie
Norman Bennett ... Edward Johnson
Jennifer Josey Jennifer Josey ... Young Emma
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Terms of Endearment See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,498,813, 27 November 1983

Gross USA:

$108,423,489

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$108,423,489
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Debra Winger was notoriously difficult to work with in Hollywood. Shirley MacLaine got in fights with her on the set of Terms of Endearment. Richard Gere clashed with her on An Officer and a Gentleman. She clashed with director Ivan Reitman on the set of Legal Eagles. She clashed with Linda Carter on the set of Wonder Woman. Winger admits she is hard to get along with in interviews; that she has few friends. She was so notoriously difficult to work with she dropped off the A list, which is what she was on when she made Terms of Endearment; she was the top up and coming star in that movie; she dropped off the A list and into obscurity. There was even a documentary made about this, called "Searching for Debra Winger." See more »

Goofs

When Emma gives Flap a tie, there is a purple tag hanging from the sleeve of her blouse. See more »

Quotes

Emma Horton: You both of you have beautiful eyes and your hair is too long. I mean, I don't care how long it gets in the back, but keep your bangs cut, OK, it's too long.
Tommy Horton: That's a matter of opinion.
Emma Horton: Just keep it short, alright?
Tommy Horton: Are you getting well?
Emma Horton: Look, I'm sorry about this but I can't help it, and I can't talk to you for too long or I'll get real upset. I want you to make a lot of friends. And I want you to be real nice to the girls 'cause they're gonna be real important to you, I swear.
Tommy Horton: I'm not afraid ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Movies That Will Make You Cry (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Another Hundred People
Written by Stephen Sondheim
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Shows that parents and children often love each other without liking each other
3 March 2016 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Terms of Endearment is a good exploration of the fact that parents don't often like their children even though they may love them, and children often have a hard time liking their parents when they turn out to be 100% correct - on the long haul - about the people they choose as spouses. Especially when the parents never let the child forget about the mistakes they have made. It also shows that death has a way of rewriting the past - often immediately.

Emma falls in love and marries at a young age - about twenty. Her mother, Aurora, apparently married a man who was well off but died young. Aurora is controlling, illustrated in the first scene when she gets up to make sure Emma is breathing when she is an infant. Emma thinks she'll "be happy in a one room shack and she won't look back" when she marries poor young college teacher Flap Horton. And then the babies start coming, and keep on coming. At this point Flap and Emma prove they are quite flappable. Flap cheats because he can, and with a woman who is more like himself, more like the woman he probably would have married had he been older when he made that decision. Emma eventually cheats because she is drowning - in bills, in lack of emotional support, with an oldest son who sees the lack of respect everybody else gives his mother and apes the behavior.

Then there is Jack Nicholson's place in all of this. As the aging astronaut who lives next door to Aurora, he is the only one who can get Aurora to fall off her pedestal as high priestess of perfect and emotionally detached decisions, and then she is terribly disappointed and surprised when he bolts as he feels the walls of monogamy closing in on him. Quite frankly, I was surprised that she was surprised that this happened.

Some people have told me this is just an awful soap opera, but I disagree. Maybe a little bit because I have an aunt who trod the same tragic path as Emma, and maybe because I am also an exiled Texan who was a bit dismayed at the "lack of wildness in the people" in the state where I would spend the next quarter of a century. But then, I loved this film before any of those things happened.

At any rate, highly recommended for the human drama of it all that hasn't really aged in 33 years. The only thing that lets you in on the fact that you are in a different time is Carol King's "It's Too Late" from 1971 playing as Aurora looks out the window at one point.


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