213 user 61 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.


James L. Brooks


Larry McMurtry (based on the novel by), James L. Brooks (screenplay)
3,512 ( 225)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 27 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »




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


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


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


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Jeff Daniels and Jack Nicholson appeared in Heartburn (1986). See more »


After Patsy applies Emma's makeup in the hospital, Emma hugs and kisses her before she leaves to get the boys, leaving a noticeable lipstick mark on Patsy's right cheek. It's gone in the next shot. See more »


Aurora Greenway: If I don't answer the bell, that means the back door's open.
Garrett Breedlove: The back door's open?
See more »


Isn't It Romantic
(1932) (uncredited)
By Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers
See more »

User Reviews

Mother & Daughter
25 August 2019 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Terms Of Endearment is a story of what happens when life does not go as planned and how you deal with it. In one way or another we are flawed humans, but most of us can rise to the occasion if the situation calls for it. It gained an Oscar at last for Shirley MacLaine and a second for Jack Nicholson though in the Supporting character category.

The story stretches out over a 30 year period and it starts with the death of MacLaine's husband early on and she's left to raise her daughter on her own. As the daughter who grows up to be Debby Winger the two fight constantly. She really doesn't approve of her choice of husband Jeff Daniels who is a struggling academic who in the course of the movie has several teaching positions and rises slowly in his profession. Not fast enough for MacLaine. She reminds me of Madge Wallace the mother-in-law of Harry S. Truman who never thought her son-in-law would amount to anything. She died in the White House just before the Trumans left for Independence permanently.

Winger has three children, but she's beset by doubts about Daniels's infidelity as he does have nubile coeds all about. Both of them misread signals about each other and MacLaine's hectoring doesn't help.

As for Shirley, her neighbor is a retired astronaut Jack Nicholson who is still looking for space groupies. He's an unlikely candidate to thaw MacLaine out, but they find out they have more in common than they think. And Nicholson has more character than we first suspect.

Terms Of Endearment is a film that places people who are very much like the people who pay to see this film in real universal situations we can all understand. Not hard to understand how this became such a critical and popular hit.

Terms Of Endearment won for Best Picture in 1983 and Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for James Brooks. It got a flock more nominations as well. It's an enduring classic and will remain so.

The finale with MacLaine is sublimely beautiful.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

9 December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Terms of Endearment See more »


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,498,813, 27 November 1983

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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