Terms of Endearment (1983)



Critic Consensus: 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.

Movie Info

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

Rating: PG (adult situations/language)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: James L. Brooks, Larry McMurtry
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 10, 2001
Paramount Home Video


as Aurora Greenway

as Emma Horton

as Garrett Breedlove

as Flap Horton

as Vernon Dahlart

as Sam Burns

as Patsy Clark

as Melanie

as Tommy Horton

as Young Tommy Horton

as Young Emma Greenway

as Baby Melanie

as Edward Johnson

as Dr. Budge

as Dr. Maise

as Dr. Ratcher

as Phil

as Rudyard's Employer

as Checkout Girl

as Victoria

as Woman at Party

as Jack Stern

as Patsy's Mother

as Flap's Secretary

as Moving Man

as Mrs. Johnson

as Checkout Girl
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Terms of Endearment

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (8)

It takes all of perhaps five minutes to fall in love with the leading characters in Terms of Endearment and from that point on, the audience is just putty in the extremely capable hands of writer-director James L. Brooks.

Full Review… | February 22, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 18, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 20, 2008
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 17, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Carlos Magalh„es

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.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer


A great film! So touching. Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger both give great performances! I had originally given this film a 4/5 rating. However I have recently decided to bump it up to a 4.5/5. I will never forget this film...the acting, the story, the characters, the execution...it's an extremely well done film.

Jameson Worley

Super Reviewer

Terms of Endearment Quotes

– Submitted by Jesse K (24 months ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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