Terms of Endearment

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Until Debra Winger finds she has The Illness, this ambles along quite amusingly but unremarkably as a sharp-eyed family comedy: Winger leaves her neurotic mother (MacLaine) for an unfaithful husband, while MacLaine consoles herself with astronaut-next-door Nicholson. It is Nicholson who dominates this section, attacking the role and usefully distracting attention from the blatant unreality and sentimentality of the MacLaine character. Then The Illness strikes, and the film changes gear completely, pulling out all the stops and almost incidentally delivering one of the best-acted, most moving death-bed scenes in recent memory. The emotional wipe-out is impressive, confirming Winger as one of the major stars of the '80s. But it also unbalances the film, and makes you wonder if director Brooks is as good at construction as he obviously is at emotion.

Release details

Duration: 132 mins

Cast and crew

Director: James L Brooks
Screenwriter: James L Brooks
Cast: Shirley MacLaine
Debra Winger
Jack Nicholson
John Lithgow
Danny DeVito
Jeff Daniels
Lisa Hart Carroll
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