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Retro-review: "This is my moment"


SPECIAL MOTHER'S DAY RETRO-REVIEW: 1983's "Terms of Endearment," starring Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson. Written and directed by James L. Brook (from the novel by Larry McMurtry).

THE PLOT: Emma (Winger) is the rebellious daughter to Aurora (MacLaine), a stuffy, emotionally distant mother who disapproves of her daughter's husband (the always great Jeff Daniels) and life. It takes Emma's illness -- and an affair with her neighbor (Nicholson) -- for her motherly instincts to finally kick in.

MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: A sequel -- "The Evening Star" -- was released in 1996, with MacLaine and Nicholson returning to play their roles from "Endearment." The movie was a dud both with critics and the box office.

SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: The supporting cast was simply amazing -- even the bit parts played by Danny DeVito and John Lithgow. But Nicholson stole the show as the raunchy, retired astronaut "Garrett Breedlove," a character that didn't even exist in the novel. But believe it or not, he wasn't the first pick for the role. Burt Reynolds, James Garner and Harrison Ford all were in line in front of Nicholson, who won an Oscar for his work.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID: "This is a wonderful film. There isn't a thing that I would change, and I was exhilarated by the freedom it gives itself to move from the high comedy of Nicholson's best moments to the acting of Debra Winger in the closing scenes." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

WHY WE STILL LOVE IT TODAY: You could drop this movie into any decade, and it would still make you sob like a baby before the final credits role. That's the magic of director James L. Brooks. But don't discount the chemistry of a handful of actors -- Winger, Lithgow, DeVito and Daniels -- who at that moment in time were just discovering how great they could be.


5. "OK, you're allowed to say one mean thing to me a year. That'll do until you're 10."

4. "Grown women are prepared for life's little emergencies."

3. "My daughter is in pain. I don't understand why she has to have this pain."

2. "Impatient boys sometimes miss dessert!"

1. "This is my moment."

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:33pm]


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