Terms of Endearment (1983) - Rotten Tomatoes

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.

Terms of Endearment Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

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


Shirley MacLaine
as Aurora Greenway
Debra Winger
as Emma Horton
Jack Nicholson
as Garrett Breedlove
Jeff Daniels
as Flap Horton
Danny DeVito
as Vernon Dahlart
John Lithgow
as Sam Burns
Lisa Hart Carroll
as Patsy Clark
Megan Morris
as Melanie
Troy Bishop
as Tommy Horton
Shane Serwin
as Young Tommy Horton
Jennifer Josey
as Young Emma Greenway
Tara Yeakey
as Baby Melanie
Norman Bennett
as Edward Johnson
Tom Wees
as Dr. Budge
Paul Menzel
as Dr. Maise
Buddy Gilbert
as Dr. Ratcher
Charles Beall
as Rudyard's Employer
Judith A. Dickerson
as Checkout Girl
Dana Vance
as Victoria
Nancy Mette
as Woman at Party
Lear Levin
as Jack Stern
Lanier Whilden
as Patsy's Mother
Helen Stauffer
as Flap's Secretary
John C. Conger
as Moving Man
Sandra Newkirk
as Mrs. Johnson
Judith Dickerson
as Checkout Girl
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Terms of Endearment

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

Garrett Breedlove: Stick it between your knees!
– Submitted by Jesse K (2 years ago)
Aurora Greenaway: Would you like to come in?
Garrett Breedlove: I'd rather stick needles in my eyes.
– Submitted by Chris P (5 years ago)

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