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Film / Terms of Endearment

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"Come to Laugh. Come to Cry. Come to Care. Come to Terms."
Tagline for the film

A 1974 novel by Larry McMurtry, Terms of Endearment is best known for its 1983 film version, the debut feature of James L. Brooks. With an All-Star Cast headed by Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine in their Oscar-winning roles, the film went on to win five total Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) have grown apart over the years. Aurora has found herself with a string of suitors, most notably retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Nicholson), while Emma too has an affair in the midst of her loveless marriage. When Emma is diagnosed with cancer, everyone's relationships will be tested.

McMurtry published a sequel to the original novel, The Evening Star, in 1992; this was itself adapted into a film four years later, with MacLaine and Nicholson reprising their roles.

This work features examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Emma dies of cancer, but not before reconciling with her mother and allowing her custody of her children.
  • Brutal Honesty: Aurora does no sugarcoating whatsoever in telling Emma why her upcoming wedding to Flap is a terrible idea:
    "You are not special enough to overcome a bad marriage."
  • The Bus Came Back: Garret breaks up with Aurora when he thinks he can't commit to a full blown relationship, but when Emma is sick, he changes his mind and comes back to support her.
  • Canon Foreigner: Garret Breedlove for the film version.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Emma's affair is treated much more sympathetically than Flip's, only doing so after she's rightfully convinced he's cheated.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played with. When Emma announces she's pregnant again, Aurora gets exasperated and mentions that a lot of smart girls are getting abortions.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Garret can be an obnoxious cad, but he's ultimately shown to be a good guy.
    • Aurora is certainly a Drama Queen, but she also cares deeply for her family.
  • Knitting Pregnancy Announcement: Discussed after Aurora explodes about becoming a grandmother, the clueless Flap asks her "Does this mean you won't be knitting the baby any booties?"
  • Ma'am Shock: Or, Being A Grandmother Shock for Aurora.
    Aurora: Why should I be happy about being A GRANDMOTHER?
    Flap: (mildly) Does this mean you won't be knitting the baby any booties?
  • Mama Bear: Aurora.
    Aurora: It's past ten. My daughter is in pain. I don't understand why she has to have this pain. All she has to do is hold out until ten, and IT'S PAST TEN! My daughter is in pain, can't you understand that! GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!

Alternative Title(s): Terms Of Endearment