Terms of Endearment (1983)

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Released 8-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-J Brooks (Dir), P Finkelman Cox (Co-Pro), P Platt (Prod Des)
Theatrical Trailer-4:29
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 126:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By James L. Brooks

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Shirley MacLaine
Debra Winger
Jack Nicholson
Danny DeVito
Jeff Daniels
John Lithgow
Lisa Hart Carroll
Betty King
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Michael Gore

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Terms of Endearment sounds like it should be about pet names: "sweetie pie", or "honey bunch". It isn't. It is a tragic comedy, or comic tragedy, with some impressive performances by Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, and Jeff Daniels. They are admirably supported by many others, including Jack Nicholson.

    This movie is about a number of things. The most obvious is about a mother-daughter relationship. This film starts with a tiny baby girl asleep, and her mother being so scared that the baby has died from cot death that she wakes the child and it cries - that reassures the mother, who is clearly a little neurotic. It continues with the death of the father, and the mother seeking comfort from her young child. The child becomes a young woman. That young woman is Emma (Debra Winger). Emma is very close to her mother Aurora (Shirley Maclaine). The biggest conflict between the two comes when Emma is about to marry Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) - Aurora is convinced that Flap is the wrong man for Emma, and says so. Emma marries him anyway. The film follows Emma and Flap, and Emma and Aurora, for a long time. In all, the movie covers over thirty years.

    This movie is about fairly ordinary people who make mistakes, but who keep going anyway. That's one of its more endearing qualities: these people are normal. Sure, one of them is an ex-astronaut (Jack Nicholson), but he is just as messed-up as everyone else.

    This movie is about forgiveness, or acceptance. I hesitate to say it, but it is about coming to terms with the people you love - Terms of Endearment is not a stupid title. It's a tough lesson, and I'm not sure we get done learning it, ever.

    This movie is shaped like a comedy, and it has some delightful comic moments. It also has some of the saddest moments I've ever seen in a comedy, and it has some moments that I consider quite challenging. 

    Is this a "chick flick"? I'd like to say no, but I guess if you think in terms like "chick flick", then you'd probably judge it as being one. Perhaps the best answer is to say that this movie tells a worthwhile story, in an entertaining way. It won five Oscars, so I'm definitely not the only person to think so. Give it a try.

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Transfer Quality


    This film is presented on DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. There is one scene in Aurora's bedroom in which it looks like the edge of the frame is cut off - that one scene makes me wonder if the original aspect ratio was wider (perhaps 1.85:1), and if the 1.78:1 ratio was achieved by cropping the sides.

    The picture varies from a little soft to very soft, but it is mostly untroubling. Shadow detail is a bit restricted. There is no low level noise.

    Colour is mostly good, although production design makes a lot of the colours fairly dull. There are some oversaturated whites, but the softness of the image at those points makes it harder to judge.

    There is some aliasing, but it is quite minor, and infrequent - the softness of the image probably reduces it. There are a few film artefacts, but they are barely noticeable, even if you are looking for them. There is frequent mosquito noise, mostly noticeable on white surfaces, particularly during the start of the movie.

    There are subtitles in several languages; they are easily read and well-timed. There are also subtitles in several languages for the audio commentary - probably more languages than any other commentary I've seen - that's nice.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered (RSDL). The layer change is at 68:18; it comes just after a fade to black, and is noticeable on some players - if it had been placed one second earlier it would have been invisible inside the fade-to-black. One of my players glitched momentarily on the layer change - it produced two quite visible MPEG decoding errors at that point; the other player (the cheaper one, of course!) had no problem at all.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are six soundtracks, three of them in English. Because the movie begins immediately, I listened to the default Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There's the original mono soundtrack, too - I sampled this, and, to be completely honest, I can't hear much difference between the 5.1 and the mono - this is a strictly dialogue-based movie, with a complete absence of explosions to light up the subwoofer. The third English soundtrack is the audio commentary.

    The dialogue is clear and comprehensible, and there are no visible audio sync problems.

    Michael Gore's score is rather good. The same themes work for both the comic and tragic elements, which is rather good work.

    The surrounds and subwoofer don't get anything significant to do, even with the 5.1 soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is static and silent, but nicely themed to the movie.

Audio Commentary

    This is an excellent commentary, even though it sounds more than a bit unstructured. I'm very glad I listened to it before writing my review - the commentary pointed out the balance between comedy and tragedy, something I'd somewhat overlooked. The participants are James L. Brooks (director/producer/screenwriter), Penney Finkelman Cox (co-producer), and Polly Platt (production designer). Brooks does most of the talking (maybe he's talking for all three of his roles?).

    I rather enjoyed the revelation that Jack Nicholson prepares for scenes in which his character is drunk by getting drunk - I guess that's method acting...

Trailer (4:29)

    This is quite a long trailer. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It has slightly better video quality than the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc has the same features, ignoring questions of languages. Sounds like the discs are quite similar.


    Terms Of Endearment is a wonderful movie, presented fairly well on DVD.

    The video quality is reasonable, but awfully soft.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are only two extras, but they are good ones.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, January 02, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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