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Terms of Endearment (1983)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 41
Fresh: 36 | Rotten: 5

A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn't shy about reaching for the heartstrings -- but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it's almost impossible to resist.


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 1

A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn't shy about reaching for the heartstrings -- but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it's almost impossible to resist.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 35,421

My Rating

Movie Info

An account of the complex and difficult relationship between a mother and daughter as they face life's challenges over three decades.


Drama, Romance, Comedy

Apr 10, 2001

Paramount Home Video

Watch It Now


Latest News on Terms of Endearment

December 8, 2005:
Jeff Daniels Does "Lookout" Duty for Disney
Well-admired character actor Jeff Daniels will star in a thriller entitled "The Lookout"...


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All Critics (41) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (5) | DVD (8)

Terms of Endearment is about three relationships and students of screenwriting would do well to study the way in which these three stories are told completely and effortlessly in a movie of average length.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its quirky rhythms and veering emotional tones are very much its own, and they owe less to movie tradition than they do to a sense of how the law of unintended consequences pushes us ceaselessly through the years, permitting no pause for perspective.

February 20, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brooks' dialog is wonderful throughout and all the characters carry off their assignments beautifully, even down to Danny De Vito and Norman Bennett as MacLaine's other suffering suitors.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Writer-director James L. Brooks] has television in his soul: his people are incredibly tiny (most are defined by a single stroke of obsessive behavior), and he chokes out his narrative in ten-minute chunks, separated by aching lacunae.

December 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Then The Illness strikes, and the film changes gear completely, pulling out all the stops.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most remarkable achievement of Terms of Endearment, which is filled with great achievements, is its ability to find the balance between the funny and the sad, between moments of deep truth and other moments of high ridiculousness.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In his directorial debut, Brooks proves himself a master with actors.

January 10, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Its soppy story is freed from cheap tear-jerking by Brooks' confident direction, Larry McMurtry's poignant script and a flawless ensemble.

January 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

There's not enough substance to support the sentiment of this longish comedy-drama.

February 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

This is American mainstream movie-making at its best.

February 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Glossy, funny, and packs a real emotional wallop.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The tragi-comedy never made me reach for my hankie, never tickled my funny bone and it never found a way into my heart.

March 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (6)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This hugely successful tear-jerker boasts some magnificent on-screen chemistry between Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

No-wonder Jack was so keen to land this role. It was simply perfect for him.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger are fantastic as a mother and daughter who individually face life's challenges and end up stronger because of it.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Something for everyone, indeed.

December 17, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Blending comedy and melodrama, this is basically a TV sitcom, marked by a sentimental tone and traditional view of women.

July 27, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Sad themes, but wonderful ensemble acting.

October 16, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

A heartfelt, sobby, strongly-acted character-driven story, the film is small in scope, but deep in meaning and emotion.

August 3, 2003 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Terms of Endearment

A wonderful drama that finds a perfect balance between sweet, humorous and sad, with sublime performances by the whole cast, mainly MacLaine and Nicholson - and it is superbly edited, keeping the narrative always fluid while it spans several years in the lives of its characters.
July 15, 2014

Super Reviewer

Heart-warming, this classic chronicle about family problems and platonic love. Together with finest actings and an intelligent script, Terms of Endearment gonna make the most strong people cry.
July 29, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Soap opera saga of a feature film is like baking honey into a pie: it's deliciously sweet, but it's not what we're at all used to.

When I turned on TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, I was full-out ready to hate it. But by the end, my decision was that I had enjoyed it well enough, but it did NOT deserve a Best Picture Oscar. Lots of this was funny, and some of it, tear-sucking. (There are many better romance/comedy/drama hybrids out there, to say the least.)

Jack Nicholson's role stands high above those of all other cast members in this film. When he is first introduced, we are reminded of his "...bash your brains in!" scene from THE SHINING; but then we figure out he is playing Jekyll & Hyde on us: he is a lovable human being, and just as much as everyone else in the film.

In my humble opinion, this winning the Best Picture Oscar was up there on the disappointments lists, somewhere around when THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE COLOR PURPLE did not win Best Picture. Sure, it's decent, but it's certainly not the expected material. Don't be deceived by how overrated TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is.
November 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Garrett Breedlove: Stick it between your knees!
    – Submitted by Jesse K (12 months ago)
    1. Aurora Greenaway: Would you like to come in?
    2. Garrett Breedlove: I'd rather stick needles in my eyes.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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