terms of endearment

So I mentioned Terms of Endearment a few entries back. It wasn’t just so that readers know how white I am. It was actually because my parents always had a copy of that movie on VHS sitting in the video cabinet, that I somehow never watched.

My parents were pretty cool about letting me watch movies. The only movies I couldn’t watch were things they weren’t interested in. i.e., They wouldn’t let me watch crap because that meant they would have to watch it with me. So I never saw any teen 80s movie, for example– why would my mom want to Watch 16 Candles or Ferris Bueller, really? But I did see Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mary Poppins, Steel Magnolias, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Secret of My Success (Mom movies), Poltergeist, Indiana Jones, Fantasia, Back to the Future, A Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now (Dad movies), etc, etc. The main parameter was bed time, really, but even that was overlooked from 1988 onward on certain nights of the week (Roseanne, Twin Peaks).

Anyway, I am waxing here. I never saw Terms of Endearment. I am pretty sure that I asked about it a couple of times, seeing it there in the cabinet. It seemed to have some kind of forbidden mystique, although I doubt that it was expressly forbidden at any point. If anyone hasn’t seen it, there is no reason it should have been forbidden.

Nor was it ever forbidden. It was probably always more like, “ahhh, How ’bout Romancing the Stone?” But the reason that they wouldn’t let me watch it, I think, is that I was simply too young. I would get bored and start picking on my sister. Or she would get bored and start making cartoon noises. It is a movie for mature audiences.

So I caught a whim to watch it recently. Now that I have turned 31 and, no longer anxious to prove that I am in my 30s, started to have a little fun with the fact that my body, mathematically speaking, is on the decline. Seriously, that is why I got the urge to watch it. “Hey, I am old now. That means I can watch Terms of Endearment! Finally.”

Summary: mother and adult daughter (warning) continue supporting each other through thick and thin, with Jack Nicholson as a washed-up astronaut. Starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow and SCREENPLAY BY JAMES L. BROOKS. Huh?

Then it hit me, that I remembered this movie from something else, not just my parents’ video cabinet. It seems to me that William Goldman references it extensively in his book Screenplay. Because it’s really good. Simpsons creator does Chick Flick. Before the Simpsons. SO obvious in retrospect.


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