Terms of Endearment (1983)

If you have been reading our reviews on Academy Award Best Pictures for the last month, there is a theme that I keep harping on. How could some of these rather subpar, uninteresting, boring movies win so many awards? I’ve argued that a handful of films in the last decade barely deserved the honour they received, but that’s just opinion, and it’s makes reviewing movies so much. 

Terms of Endearment could have been a movie I totally fell in love with because it stars Debra Winger, who I admire in An Officer and a Gentleman. Then there is Shirley MacLaine, who is a brilliant actress with much success in the business. The male lead is non-other than Jack Nicholson, someone I would watch almost anything in. As for the supporting cast, we find a very young Jeff Daniels and John Lithgow. They are both in love with our main character Emma (Winger), only one doesn’t appreciate her, and the other can’t actually have her. 

I think the main reason I didn’t like the film was the story that has been told a few hundred times. Nothing jumped out at me that made it extraordinary or stand out from countless others. I didn’t even cry or get emotionally upset when the film’s main conflict is revealed, with about 30 minutes left. When you read the synopsis, one would assume that cancer would be discovered initially and be the engine that drives the plot. Instead, we suffer through a handful of extramarital affairs by the main characters and a blossoming love affair between the older adults that ends in a disaster. 

Maybe one of the biggest flaws with this movie is how many subplots ultimately affect the main plot. Daniel’s character is out to make something of himself and prove that he can be a good man. Winger’s character struggles to be a mom at home all day with little to no money coming in, yet blows up at her kids when they step out of line. Nicholson’s character is a playboy who wouldn’t settle down to save his life, while MacLaine’s character is hesitant to be intimate or even having feelings for a guy. Then there’s the overbearing mom angle, and how’s she’s always got to be right. 

There’s just a lot going on with these characters, and those complications may have been what won the voters over. None of the extra stuff won points with me, and the fact we spend most of the movie without its biggest selling point really took away many points. 

It is safe to say there are many messages in this one about love, family, and facing your fears; however, none of that really caught my eye. I’m sure many of you enjoyed this film, but this is definitely one and done for me. 4/10


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