Terms of Endearment - Paramount Presents 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
One of the finest films ever produced about the vagaries of familial relationships looks better than ever in 4K UHD. Terms of Endearment deftly balances humor with heartbreak as it examines the tug of war between a mother and daughter, husband and wife, and next-door neighbors who form a most unlikely union. Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson all file memorable portrayals and Paramount honors the 40th anniversary of this Best Picture Oscar winner with a stunning Dolby Vision transfer, excellent audio, and a brand new extra. Highly Recommended.
Paramount proudly adds Best Picture Oscar winner TERMS OF ENDEARMENT in our limited-edition Paramount Presents collection, for the first time on 4K Ultra HD. This quintessential Dramedy—directed, produced, and written by James L. Brooks (from a novel by Larry McMurtry)—features a powerhouse cast that includes Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels and John Lithgow. Spanning three decades, it follows the ups and downs of a mother-daughter relationship with honesty, heart, and laughs. Both critically acclaimed and a box-office blockbuster, it has endeared as a fan favorite 40 years after its release.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Though it won five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, Terms of Endearment has always struggled to earn the respect it deserves. Its estrogen-fueled storyline about a close yet volatile relationship between a mother and daughter, their combustible romances, and the ultimate medical crisis that tears their respective worlds apart screams Lifetime Movie of the Week. Over the years the film's detractors have called it shamelessly tear-jerking, manipulative, and trite. Somehow, though, writer-director James L. Brooks and his talented cast infuse the seemingly cloying, clichéd material with enough warmth, wisdom, wit, and brutal honesty to elevate it high above typical genre entries. While not as searing and revelatory as some family dramas, Terms of Endearment strikes many chords and its undeniable humanity keeps it relatable. It will make you laugh, it certainly will make you cry (if it doesn't, you're made of stone), and most importantly, it will make you cherish the relationships in your own life, especially the rocky ones.
If ever a film runs the gamut of emotions, it's Terms of Endearment, and though nothing in its trailer would suggest the movie is anything but an innocuous, light-hearted look at familial foibles, things take a serious turn during the narrative's final quarter. Some find the jarring change of tone difficult to swallow and out of left field, but life is notorious for throwing curveballs and the way the film reflects such devastating unpredictability is one of its many strengths. Another is Brooks' adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel, which brings a gallery of distinct characters to brilliant life. Brooks' previous experience in TV sitcoms (he produced such legendary programs as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi) helps him fashion an appropriate rhythm of dialogue that lends the various verbal zingers and snappy retorts maximum impact. He also laces the serious scenes with just the right level of humor to continually emphasize each character's distinctive qualities.
And it's those qualities that make almost every character a gem. Arguably one of the all-time great female screen roles, Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) is an uptight, judgmental, uncompromising pillar of strength who loves her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) unconditionally, but often shrouds her affection with relentless criticism and blunt remarks. A prisoner of her rigid principles, Aurora disapproves of Emma's impending nuptials to aspiring English professor Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels), telling her in classic Aurora fashion, "You are not special enough to overcome a bad marriage." Nonplussed but undeterred, the free-wheeling, equally outspoken Emma goes ahead with the union and almost immediately begins having children and relishing her life as a stay-at-home mom.
Marital stresses between Emma and Flap do develop, however, changing the direction and dynamics of their lives, just as a fed-up Aurora decides to throw caution to the wind, dump her three worshipping yet impotent suitors, and pursue a relationship with her randy next-door neighbor Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson), a drunken former astronaut who over the years has used his lofty status to bed a bevy of young babes. As Aurora and Emma try to manage their respective bumpy relationships, they also try to come to terms with each other, but an unexpected illness rocks the foundation of both their lives.
Juggling humor and pathos is tricky business, but Brooks navigates the minefield with aplomb, as do his actors, whose spot-on performances are a joy to watch. First and foremost, it's impossible to imagine anyone other than MacLaine as Aurora. Like Bette Davis' Margo Channing in All About Eve, Judy Garland's Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, Aurora is MacLaine's signature role and she puts her indelible stamp on the often maddening, always spirited, and forever feisty character. Whether freaking out over the prospect of becoming a grandmother, trading barbs with Nicholson over lunch, extolling the ecstasy of middle-age sex, or, in her most memorable moment, hysterically chewing out a brigade of hospital nurses as she vociferously implores them to "give my daughter the shot!!!!", MacLaine is nothing less than genuine, and her admirable work justly earned her a long overdue Best Actress Academy Award.
Reportedly, MacLaine and Winger did not get along at all off-screen, rarely speaking to each other when the cameras stopped rolling, yet their on-screen rapport is legendary. Their conversations brim with the heightened level of intimacy only a real mother and daughter could achieve and Winger's naturalness, spunk, warmth, and deep attachment to her mother and children shine through at every turn. Hers is another bravura performance, and it's a shame she couldn't have been honored with an Oscar as well.
And then there's Nicholson. In a supporting role, Jack plays a character as delightfully devilish as his own persona and comes close to stealing every scene in which he appears. With classic lines like "We're going to need a LOT of drinks...to kill the bug up your ASS!," "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes," and "I was inches from a clean getaway," all delivered with an impish glint, Nicholson gets plenty of laughs, but also displays a rare sensitivity and tenderness that make his portrayal utterly winning. He, too, won a well-deserved Oscar, the first of two he would receive for Brooks films (the other came 14 years later for As Good as It Gets), beating out co-star John Lithgow, who also contributes a memorable turn as Emma's mild-mannered, sexually frustrated lover. Also worthy of a nomination, Jeff Daniels, as Emma's irresponsible, selfish, and philandering husband, files a marvelously nuanced performance that launched a stellar film career.
Any discussion of Terms of Endearment would not be complete without lauding the excellent work of the movie's child actors. Brooks wrings from this juvenile quartet some of the most natural and affecting portrayals I have ever seen. The reaction shots of Troy Bishop, who plays Emma and Flap's sullen and resentful son Tommy, are especially telling and the unvarnished emotion expressed by adorable Huckleberry Fox as younger son Teddy during a devastating scene will truly break your heart. It's moments such as these that heighten the story's impact and make the film resonate.
Terms of Endearment shows its age around the edges, but remains a delightfully humorous, deeply affecting study of interpersonal relationships. Like the tagline says, "Come to laugh, come to cry, come to care, come to terms." Such simplicity defines this intimate movie that celebrates our emotional complexities and the ties that both bind us and rip us apart.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Terms of Endearment arrives on 4K UHD packaged in a standard case inside a sleeve that opens to reveal a reproduction of the movie's original poster art. A 1080p Blu-ray disc and leaflet containing the code to access the digital copy are tucked inside the front cover. Video codec is 2160p/HEVC H.265 and audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Once the disc is inserted into the player, the static menu without music immediately pops up; no previews or promos precede it.
I was quite impressed with the picture quality of the 2013 Blu-ray, but this 2160p/HEVC H.265 transfer with Dolby Vision HDR delivers significant improvements. I don't know if Terms of Endearment has been remastered, but the image is noticeably brighter and more vibrant, exudes a more organic film-like feel, and features enhanced clarity, contrast, and color. Grain might be a tad more evident, but it works to the movie's advantage, heightening its warmth and intimacy. Blacks are rich and deep, the whites of various outfits are crisp and stable, flesh tones appear more natural (though they still err a tad toward the orange side), background elements and fabric patterns are better defined, and depth is more palpable.
Colors are much more vivid and lush - the shots of Aurora's garden with all the blooming flowers and verdant foliage are breathtaking. Razor-sharp close-ups showcase Nicholson's stubble, a faint scar on Winger's face, and various teardrops and blemishes, and no nicks or marks dot the pristine source. A few shots flaunt some softness just as they did on the Blu-ray, but the instances are brief. Viewing Terms of Endearment in Ultra HD is an absolute joy, so if you own the previous Blu-ray and admire the film, an upgrade is definitely recommended.
The same audio tracks from the 2013 Blu-ray seem to be included here. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track appears on both the 4K UHD and standard Blu-ray discs, but the restored Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track can only be accessed on the Blu-ray. As I wrote in my 2013 review of the Blu-ray, "The DTS-HD MA sound is full bodied and well modulated, but both surround activity and front-channel stereo separation are practically non-existent. The music score nicely fills the room and is distinguished by excellent fidelity and tonal depth, but not much in the way of ambient effects bleed into the rears. Terms of Endearment is, after all, a dialogue-driven film, but accents such as screeching tires and an over-active washing machine are crisp and distinct. A wide dynamic scale keeps distortion at bay, even when MacLaine gets a little screechy, and though the subwoofer is all but silent, subtle bass frequencies possess good weight and provide essential warmth to the track. The all-important conversations are clear and easy to comprehend and any age-related imperfections such as hiss, pops, and crackles have been meticulously erased. Solid but unspectacular is the best way to describe this workmanlike transfer that never muscles in on the narrative and its powerful emotional thread."
Paramount imports the commentary and trailer from the 2013 Blu-ray and adds a new featurette. All the special features reside on the included Blu-ray disc.
NEW Filmmaker Focus with James L. Brooks (HD, 14 minutes) - The writer-director of Terms of Endearment talks about his attraction to the project, the difficulties he had writing the script, how important the comedy is to the material, and casting choices in this breezy retrospective featurette. He also praises the performances and reflects on the opportunities the movie's success afforded him. Archival interviews with Brooks and especially Winger enhance the piece.
Audio Commentary – Director/writer James L. Brooks, co-producer Penney Finkelman Cox, and production designer Polly Platt sit down for a joint commentary that seems to have been recorded in 2000. Lively yet frustratingly vague, the remarks often allude to trouble and tension on the set, especially between MacLaine and Winger (Brooks even refers to a period when Winger went on a three-day "strike"), but no specifics are given. Brooks dominates the discussion, much of which focuses on how the first-time director met the film's many challenges, but interesting bits of trivia are sprinkled throughout this relaxed and jovial chat. We learn Nicholson actually got drunk for his inebriated scenes, actress Mary Kay Place dubbed a few lines of dialogue for one of Garrett's bimbos, and Winger bested a regretful Brooks in a key on-set battle. Brooks also talks about financing the film, the joy of working with the cast of talented child actors, and some censorship issues in this worthwhile track.
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 5 minutes) – The film's lengthy original preview is also included on the disc.
A superb script and top-notch performances distinguish this deserved Best Picture winner that wrings every ounce of emotion from its material, which runs the gamut from hilarious one-liners to some of the most unabashed tear-jerking moments ever committed to celluloid. Terms of Endearment still delivers 40 years later and it looks like a million bucks in 4K UHD. A beautiful Dolby Vision transfer that heightens the tale's intimacy, solid audio, and a brand new interview with writer-director James L. Brooks make this Paramount Presents release very worthy of an upgrade for fans and a purchase for those who haven't yet experienced this warm, witty, wonderful movie. Highly Recommended.
Order your copy of Terms of Endearment on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
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