jack nicholson tribute: TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983)

Garrett Breedlove in Terms of Endearment (1983)

It’s quite clear that Jack has perfected the role of the sleazy womanizer. This film, in which he plays a boozehound former astronaut on the prowl for younger women, is no different. Or so it seems on the surface. In his second Oscar-winning performance, Jack meets his match in the form of Aurora Greenway (played with chutzpah by Shirley MacLaine). And the point where Terms of Endearment sets itself apart from other flicks in which Jack plays the grinning advantage-seeker is when he admits his undying fascination with a woman his own age, no matter whether she’s a “grandmother.” (Love little Tommy dutifully saying, “Goodbye Mrs. Greenway.”)

So here was my fear going into this viewing of Terms of Endearment, which I hadn’t seen in many years: though the film obviously received accolades at the time of its release, a little thing called Lifetime has emerged since then, and they’ve made an empire out of churning out sob stories modeled after this ground-breaker. Fortunately, the film has legs, and, to me, has stood the test of aging as a still-potent character-driven piece. Let’s be honest here, I spent the last half hour of the movie bawling like a baby. That Debra Winger still can break hearts.

One thing is fairly evident when re-viewing this movie, though. This flick’s owned by the ladies. The leads MacLaine and Winger steal the show with their often damaged but enduring relationship. Though Nicholson provides some much-needed loosening up for the otherwise shrewish Aurora, Garrett Breedlove is nothing more than a lovable schmuck. Something tells me the real feat at play here with his performance is the sudden change of heart and sentimentality that almost never truly occurs for the bulk of his sleazified characters.

Jack’s Performance: B
The Film: B+

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