DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


James L. Brooks
Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson
Writing Credits:
James L. Brooks

Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3,498,813 on 260 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Monaural
French Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 12/3/2013

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director James L. Brooks, Co-Producer Penney Finkelman Cox and Production Designer Polly Platt
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Terms of Endearment [Blu-Ray] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 11, 2021)

When 1983’s Terms of Endearment took home the Best Picture Academy Award, I thought it was a travesty since I felt The Right Stuff clearly presented the stronger film. Many years later, I still feel the same way.

For the most part, Terms boasts a fairly well-executed and compelling affair, but it’s good at best. I don’t understand how anyone thought this was the stuff for which Oscars are awarded.

For the most part, Terms covers a roughly ten-year time frame in the lives of widowed Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger). We briefly glimpse Emma as an infant, and we also see a few minutes of her life as a child and teenager, but the vast majority of the film looks at her adulthood.

About five minutes into the flick, we go to the night before Emma’s wedding, and the remainder of the movie details her life and relationship with her mother.

They’re a prickly pair, as Aurora is quickly shown to be extremely overbearing. She disapproves of Emma’s choice of mate, though we don’t really learn why she so dislikes young college professor Flap (Jeff Daniels).

Aurora also basks in the adoration of many suitors, but she never gives in to any of their requests. Instead, she simply seems to keep them around her as a reminder of her never-ending charm.

Early in the movie, it looks like a serious rift will develop between Emma and her mother, as Aurora’s disdain for Flap leads her to skip her daughter’s wedding. However, this becomes nothing more than a minor speedbump that quickly disappears from the story.

Mother and daughter often disagree, but we see little that continues to tie them together other than familiarity. At times Emma seems to dislike her mother - as she should, since Aurora’s an aggravating windbag - but she maintains a very close and chummy relationship with her despite all of her mother’s provocations.

Of course, there are plenty of families like that, so I don’t even know if I’d call the occasionally-strained relationship between Aurora and Emma unusual. However, I found the film irritating at times because it so neatly glossed over their problems.

There should have been more of an indication of the down time in between big incidents, whereas we just see the flare-ups and never get a grip on how the two reconcile their differences.

I think that’s my main problem with Terms, as it feels like a “greatest hits” reel of Emma’s adult life. The characters grow, but not in a natural manner.

Aurora remains stiff and distant until she succumbs to the charms of long-time neighbor Garrett (Jack Nicholson). A womanizing former astronaut, Aurora imagines that she’s too dignified and ladylike for this brassy dude, but after she realizes how long she’s gone without sex, she opens herself to his possibilities. After some testy moments, a whirlwind romance ensues, and Aurora brightens considerably.

I won’t cover all of the material we see in Terms because it might ruin the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it. It doesn’t feature a true plot, as it instead concentrates on the life developments that occur within that decade or so.

All at once, Terms seems too short and too long. It doesn’t take enough time to truly develop the characters.

Aurora changes her personality far too quickly within screen time. Sure, the movie proceeds over a fairly long span of “real time”, but in this instance, the alterations occur in rapid-fire succession.

Of course, those changes make it easier for MacLaine to provide her grand “acting”. Truth in journalism: I never have been able to stand the woman.

This isn’t due to any true faults as a performer, as she definitely possesses a great deal of talent. However, I just find her to be an annoying personality, and much of that tone carries over to her work here.

Actually, MacLaine’s general obnoxiousness works well for the character, since Aurora is supposed to be an irritating prig. Nonetheless, too much of MacLaine’s performance falls into the “diva!” category.

Her acting could feel a bit too showy for the role, and at times it seems as though she really worked to show us her skills instead of allowing them to escape naturally.

Winger displays a more believable presence as Emma, though I also didn’t feel we found great depth in her performance. Emma simply seems tired and put-upon throughout the film, so even when she’s supposed to be brighter or cheerier, Winger doesn’t come across that way. She and MacLaine exhibit decent chemistry but there doesn’t become much that makes me believe the bond between the two.

Nicholson’ casting became a serious coup for the producers, as his presence allowed men to more willing see the film. With a less devilish actor in the role, guys would be averse to this kind of flick, but many probably surmised that if Jack was in it, then it must be okay!

Nicholson indeed provides some of the movie’s best moments. He does little that we haven’t already seen, as Jack is always best at playing Jack. Still, his turn as the roguish Garrett adds spark to the production and makes it more enjoyable.

As the film’s fourth lead, Daniels takes on easily the most thankless and difficult role of the piece. He has to try to make Flap realistic and sympathetic but since he functions as the nominal villain of the movie, so he can’t create a character who becomes too likable.

For the most part, Daniels succeeds, though I would have preferred a less spineless personality. He seems totally self-obsessed and directionless, and Daniels doesn’t give him much backbone.

However, I think much of this wasn’t Daniels’ fault, as in this kind of semi-feminist setting, a character of this sort isn’t allowed to be much more than the token bum. Indeed, one of my greatest complaints with Terms stems from its self-congratulatory “sisters are doing it for themselves” tone.

Men are treated poorly in this kind of flick in which they function as little more than unreliable and self-centered appendages. Even Garrett is offered little room for growth and is shown as a jellyfish in comparison with the wealth of strong female participants.

In that vein, Terms is yet another movie in which male adultery is condemned while female adultery supported. When Flap cheats on Emma, he’s made into a villain, and his side of things - which receives little coverage - never is allowed to show any validity. However, when Emma has her own fling, we’re led to see her as gentle and loving, and we never are meant to feel any negativity toward her for her actions.

You can’t have it both ways. To his credit, director James L. Brooks seems to recognize this, at least in retrospect, as he discusses the hypocrisy during the disc’s audio commentary.

However, his position seems to be quickly dismissed, as the double standard remains in effect. Terms isn’t alone in this category, and at least its story semi-provokes the woman to cheat, unlike more disgusting examples such as The English Patient. Nonetheless, the theme continues to bother me.

Even without that issue, Terms would end up as a well-made but not great melodrama. It does enough to keep us with it across its running time but it never quite excels.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Terms of Endearment appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Any problems here came from the source, as the transfer replicated the movie accurately.

Sharpness was usually good. The film rarely looked terribly concise, but it showed appropriate delineation given the slightly hazy photographic styles chosen for the project.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes failed to materialize. With an appropriate layer of grain, I didn’t sense any digital noise reduction, and print flaws remained absent.

Colors tended toward the natural side of the street. The movie went with a warm feel that seemed well-rendered here.

Blacks were fairly dark, while shadows seemed generally good. A few shots came across as a little dense, but again, that seemed to reflect the source. No one will use Terms to show off their awesome TVs, but the image gave us a good take on the original photography.

Adapted from the original monaural mix - which also appears on the disc - we find an appropriately restrained DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield. The forward channels displayed some modest spread to effects, as I heard occasional ambient sounds on the sides. These also appeared in the rear speakers as well, and the whole package created a fairly solid little surround sensation.

However, note that there’s very little genuinely discrete audio to be heard, at least in regard to the effects. The mix seemed to stick to vague ambient audio and little more.

On the other hand, the score presented a much better-defined affair. It displayed fine stereo imaging throughout the entire film, and at times it spread effectively to the surrounds as well.

The best example of this occurred when Emma went to New York, as she first saw to the Big Apple, the music really took over the mix and became quite impressive.

As a whole, however, the soundfield stayed pretty close to it mono roots, which was fine with me. It’s not as though Terms offers the kind of film that would benefit from an active mix.

Audio quality sounded good for its age. Dialogue appeared relatively warm, with no problems related to intelligibility, and edginess didn’t become an issue.

Effects were generally a minor aspect of the mix, and they seemed acceptably clear and realistic, though they lacked much range. Music functioned well, as Michael Gore’s score appeared nicely bright and vibrant throughout the movie. This seemed like a more than competent mix for a movie from 1983.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the film’s DVD from 2001? The lossless audio showed more warmth, though the limitations of the source restricted growth.

As for visuals, Terms enjoyed the usual Blu-ray bump. The disc looked tighter, cleaner and more natural than the DVD, so expect a good upgrade.

In addition to the movie’s original theatrical trailer, we find an audio commentary from director James L. Brooks, co-producer Penney Finkelman Cox, and production designer Polly Platt. All three were recorded together for this screen-specific piece.

Not surprisingly, Brooks dominates the track, as he provides the lion’s share of remarks. The two women kick in with some statements from time to time, and they help spur Brooks’ memory when he slips, but as a whole, it’s Brooks’ baby.

For the most part, the commentary provides a somewhat spotty but decent look at the creation of the film. We hear some good anecdotes about the production and get a nice general idea of what went on behind the scenes.

At times, too much of the track passes without any statements, a tendency that grows toward the end of the film. During the final act, all three - but especially the women - seem to get caught up in the action and forget to speak.

Actually, although this makes for a dull stretch, it seems fairly sweet to hear the women get as emotional as they do. In any case, fans of Terms will probably enjoy the commentary, though objectively it’s erratic and average at best.

As a film, Terms Of Endearment offers a fairly well-made effort, but I don’t think it does much that makes it special. I really don’t believe it deserved all of the Academy Awards it garnered over efforts like The Right Stuff. The Blu-ray offers pretty solid picture and sound plus a decent audio commentary. Terms Of Endearment does little for me, but fans of this kind of relationship piece will likely enjoy it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main