Today is Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday. In celebration for that, Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews is hosting the Here’s Jack Blogathon celebrating his work. Jack Nicholson is one of those actors that has been around ever since I was little, and way before. I can’t remember exactly when was the first move I saw Jack Nicholson but definitely one of the first that I remember vaguely was his role in Terms of Endearment even if I realized in this rewatch that I misunderstood a ton and was really too young back then. There were some scenes that feel familiar and it is a much delayed rewatch.
Let’s check it out!
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Director: James L. Brooks
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow, Lisa Hart Carroll, Huckleberry Fox, Troy Bishop
Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter’s family problems. – IMDB
Terms of Endearment is a comedy-drama centered around Aurora, a single mother and her daughter, Emma who don’t exactly have a great relationship on the surface but deep down, they have a strong connection. From a young age, Emma had left her home against her mother’s will to get married to an English professor, Flap. As they live separately and keep contact, we see their lives as they both grow and change. Aurora, with the leaving of her daughter, learns to embrace being alone while also accepting and opening up herself to another relationship with her next door neighbor, Garrett. On the other hand, Emma grows into being a stay at home wife and then mother living in a less than perfect life economically as her husband moves them from city to city pursuing his career. It truly brings out the reality of life sometimes handing out both good and bad without any prior notice and having the ability to deal with it. The star of this movie is both in the script that carries out these events in Aurora and Emma’s lives and also the great performances from the entire cast which portray both the joy and devastation of the situations thrown at them.
Terms of Endearment shines in their performances and more specifically the way we see the characters develop. Not only do Aurora, played by Shirley MacLaine and Emma, played by Debra Winger have depth to their characters and make us connect or simply believe in their story and love their mother and daughter relationship despite them have their differences in opinions. Their supporting characters also carry quite some depth. Perhaps the acting experience helps but playing opposite of Shirley MacLaine is the older gentlemen: an honorable astronaut but also a man who lacks commitment, Garrett who moves next door to Aurora and is played by Jack Nicholson. Garrett is not exactly a complex character but there is some depth as we grow to see him shift his views from the playboy that he starts off as who goes after young girls and tries to impress them to accepting to go on a date with the older Aurora and yet still be mesmerized by how she teaches him some things about life. We can see that he likes the simplicity of their relationship which is more physical than outwardly emotional and in their own bubble and he has a harder time when he starts to feel that he needs to be someone that she can rely on and feels that he will let her down. However, we do know that there’s something a little more to him than that. Sometimes, people aren’t exactly who we expect them to be: a lesson that constantly is reminded to us over and over again, and perhaps its these surprises that makes us want to keep watching this drama as they tug on our heartstrings over and over again.
Not to mention that these relationships are all quirky in their own way. These moments are the comedic bits that break up the dramatic parts and they are very well-timed and suitable to cut through the tension or change the pace or direction of the story. Perhaps this movie fits really well with the Here’s Jack Blogathon because what I remembered the most of Terms of Endearment from when I was little watching this next to my dad was Jack Nicholson’s role and as I watch it again, those are the parts that really make feel unsettled just like it should for Aurora. Jack Nicholson tends to remind me of many roles where he is a tad eccentric and its part of the fun of watching him because he fits into those roles so well. This is no exception for playing Garrett because he does the most unexpected things and sometimes also shares some deeper thoughts than we’d expect. He definitely was one of my favorite characters here. His scenes with Shirley MacLaine are possibly the most entertaining in the film in such an odd and uneasy way.
Looking on the side of Emma and Debra Winger’s portrayal of it, who does a great job at really making us see her character a whole lot from the ups and downs. On top of that, her supporting role is her husband Flap played by Jeff Daniels. I’m the first to stand up for liking Jeff Daniels even in his not to big role in Speed, but this one he does a fantastic job, perhaps its the fact that his characters has a decent arc and that there’s something that contrasts about his character as well, there’s a hidden something there that opens up what this story is telling. Their relationship are some of the good moments as their relationship grows as their family gets bigger with the kids. The kids are pretty cool as well. They don’t have a huge part but there’s something written for them and how they accept who their parents are especially with their oldest played by Troy Bishop in the role of Tommy. However, they aren’t the focal point in this relationship but really how Flap and Emma’s marriage has changed as they also change over the years together.
Overall, Terms of Endearment is a movie with great performances by the cast and a fantastic script that leads us down the road of these two ladies as they grow with the things that happen to them separately and in different phases of their life. Its really nice to see a movie that has a great direction and execution of highlighting the characters and every one gets the same care including the supporting roles as well. Also a great pick for myself as I rewatch this and realize that this might be one of my most memorable roles of Jack Nicholson if not one of my first roles that I saw him in, not to mention that its one of those memories of movie watching with my dad and in one of the final scenes, it actually made me remember a moment with my dad that made that moment tug on my heartstrings even more.
A huge thanks to Gill for thinking this up! It was a ton of fun (and tears) to rewatch Terms of Endearment!
It also makes me want to rewatch some of his other movies and catch up with the ones I’ve missed (which are a lot)!
I’m at the brink of the date that Gill gave me to release this post (in my time zone), so here it goes! Hope you enjoyed! 🙂
What are your thoughts on Terms of Endearment? What Jack Nicholson movies stand out for you?