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Terms of Endearment

Still of Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger in Terms of EndearmentStill of Debra Winger and Jeff Daniels in Terms of EndearmentStill of Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment


Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage…

Release Year: 1983

Rating: 7.3/10 (21,302 voted)

Critic's Score: 79/100

James L. Brooks

Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson

Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy. Aurora's interludes with Garrett Breedlove, retired astronaut and next door neighbor are quite striking. In the end, different people show their love in very different ways.

Writers: Larry McMurtry, James L. Brooks


Shirley MacLaine

Aurora Greenway

Debra Winger

Emma Horton

Jack Nicholson

Garrett Breedlove

Danny DeVito

Vernon Dahlart

Jeff Daniels

Flap Horton

John Lithgow

Sam Burns

Lisa Hart Carroll

Patsy Clark

Betty King

Rosie Dunlop

(as Betty R. King)

Huckleberry Fox

Teddy Horton

Troy Bishop

Tommy Horton

Shane Serwin

Younger Tommy Horton

Megan Morris

Melanie Horton

Tara Yeakey

Baby Melanie

Norman Bennett

Edward Johnson

Jennifer Josey

Young Emma

Come to Laugh, Come to Cry, Come to Care, Come to Terms.

Release Date: 9 December 1983

Filming Locations: 1148 Heights Blvd., Houston, Texas, USA

Opening Weekend: $3,498,813
(27 November 1983)
(260 Screens)

Gross: $108,423,489

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


The MPAA originally gave this film an "R" rating due to strong language. It was reduced to "PG" on an appeal (the PG-13 rating did not exist at the time), an achievement often repeated by writer-director-producer James L. Brooks on his later films.


When Garrett and Aurora are going to have a lunch at the restaurant, Aurora sits down the chair twice.


Aurora Greenway:
Do you have any reaction at all to my telling you I love you?

Garrett Breedlove:
I was just inches from a clean getaway.

User Review



Wow was my first reaction to seeing the film back in February 2003. I
had bought it on a whim and watched it one night when I was bored. The
rest is history. Terms remains one of my favorite films and I really
can't say why. Reputation has made this out to be "the ultimate chick
flick" upon which every other tear-jerker is judged. But it's
definitely more of a character study than a weepy mushy movie. In fact,
it's anything but mushy. Where it could of been over-sentimental, it
was poignant. Where it could of been boring, it was insightful. And
where it could of been corny, it was tongue-in-cheek.

Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger give career performances as mother
and daughter. Both characters are polar opposites and in real life the
actresses despised each other, but on screen their chemistry sizzles.
Jack Nicholson is his usual suave self and John Lithgow is perfect as
the wimpy banker. Danny Devito also has a quirky cameo.

James L. Brooks is definitely an "actor's director". To him, the
performances are clearly more important than set pieces or flashy
camera work. Each of the three main performances are brilliant
(especially MacLaine's). It has been decades since a movie about
illness has been made like this that is so achingly real. Two scenes to
look for: Aurora walking across a seedy hotel (heat-breaking) and Emma
telling her mother that she's pregnant (hilarious).

Terms of Endearment is a triumph!