The summery on this little Netflix slip began with something cheesy like daughters are from Mars and mothers are from Venus. I groaned, realizing I was in for mother-daughter weepy feelings time, where most people reach for the tissues, I grab a bucket.
Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) are very close. The father died when Emma was still a little girl, so they’re instantly closer than your average only child family. In those first few minutes where we watch Emma grow up, it seems that Aurora is sometimes more of a friend than a mother, but maybe that’s just what happens as a single parent. The night before Emma is going to marry Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) Aurora puts her mother face back on and tells her straight that marrying Flap will be a mistake. “You are not special enough to overcome a bad marriage.”
Well, with that whole Mars-Venus thing Emma doesn’t listen and the main story is her and Flap’s married life from kids, Flap’s crappy job moving him across the country, money problems, marriage problems and all the juicy stuff Emma shares on the phone to her mother every day. Emma’s life makes for some good gossip, if it were less quirky and didn’t have any good hearted laughs it would be daytime television material.
Jack Nicholson plays the retired astronaut who lives next to Aurora. The character’s name is Garrett or something like that, but it doesn’t matter because this is Jack’s usual character and he quickly became the entire reason I started to enjoy the film. He enjoys getting drunk, hitting on inappropriately young girls and driving too fast in his silver Corvette, so obviously prim and propper Aurora thinks he’s horrible. One day Jack asks Aurora out on a casual lunch date, but doesn’t accept it until a few years later, during her third 50th birthday party. Sounds to me like Jack is just a little lonely and Aurora wants to feel young again. These two are much more interesting than Emma and her pile of dumb decisions.
So that’s basically it; mother-daughter long distance relationship, issues with their men and then some tragedy. Throw in some laughs and Jack Nicholson to keep those who don’t sponge up the dripping estrogen entertained and this movie isn’t half bad. I wasn’t moved or enlightened and no, I did not cry.
Even before considering the slew of Oscar noms (11) and five wins (Jack Nicholson, Shriley MacLaine, and James L. Brooks for Director, Writing and Picture), I understand how this film can work into one’s heart and into the Best Picture slot. But it just felt too conventional to me. Maybe it’s a generational thing where I found the music cheesy and reminiscent of an afternoon special. Perhaps I’m just a cold-hearted fool who thought Emma was an idiot for marrying Jeff Daniels in the first place. And I couldn’t believe that there was anyone in the world who wouldn’t enjoy getting drunk with Jack Nicholson and driving that Corvette along the beach. Seriously, I’d put a brick on that pedal and climb up top with him.
I think you can tell what my favorite scenes from Terms of Endearment were:
“-You’re just going to have to trust me about this one thing. You need a lot of drinks.
–To break the ice?
-To kill the bug that you have up your ass.”