James L Brooks

Terms of Endearment

Year: 1983
Directed By: James L Brooks
Written By: Larry McMurty (novel) James L Brooks (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie that I would never normally go for and in fact had never even heard of it until about six years ago. I was listening to my favorite morning radio show when I heard about it. A funny conversation about the movie caught my attention and I sought out the film to see it for myself. When I saw this film for the first time I was really impressed with the drama of it all. The performances of Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine were very strong and I felt it qualified for a place on the shelf.

Years ago I was riding around listening to my favorite morning radio show, The Two Guys Named Chris. They had gotten a big celebrity interview with Jeff Daniels and spent all morning teasing it. As I drove along and listened to the host, Chris Kelly, interview Daniels he spent most of the time talking about this movie I had never heard of, Terms of Endearment. At one point he asked Daniels what the Oscars were like to which Daniels replied he didn’t know because he had never been invited. He apparently was the only actor not nominated for his role in the movie and it led to an awkward exchange that had me laughing all the way home.

With this interview leaving me laughing I had to see the movie that had amassed so many awards the year before I was born. Little did I know that while the interview left me laughing this movie would inspire very few laughs and in fact I’m unashamed to admit I cried my freaking eyes out. Watching it this time around was even worse because I find myself the head of a family of five and the heartache hits home so much harder.

I dare you to watch this movie and keep your eyes dry. If you manage it I’d question whether or not you actually have a soul because this is the type of movie to suck you in and then bring you to your knees emotionally. As we watched it I literally found myself trying to look away so I didn’t cry my eyes out in front of my wife, but I failed and the tears fell.

I bought this movie and added it to the collection after seeing it for the first time because of the emotional response it got out of me. As life carries on you can almost become numb to things over time but movies like this remind me that I’m still alive because it makes my emotions bleed through my eyes.

Another reason I bought this movie was because I simply marveled at Jack Nicholson. I have never been a fan, and I always admire an actor I don’t like that manages to win me over. One of my favorite lines in this movie is from the scene where Shirley MacLaine went to his house for the first time and mentioned that his home was a bit egotistical. It is decorated heavily with space and astronaut stuff. His reply was something like “there are only 100 astronauts in the whole fucking world and I’m one of them!” That he had a right to be egotistical was hilarious to me and I love that line and scene.

Months later….

OK so we started binging Game of Thrones and it took us a couple of months. Somewhere along the line this post got lost in the shuffle and I couldn’t begin to tack on a finisher now. I don’t even have the energy to read back through this sad and unfortunate film to proofread it so excuse me if there are typos in it. It’s a tough one, but I think it is definitely worth your time under the right circumstances.

NEXT MOVIE: Thank You for Smoking (2005)

 

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Spanglish

Year: 2004
Directed By: James L. Brooks
Written By: James L. Brooks

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie made it into the collection because it was a favorite of Amber’s. It’s not a movie I would ever watch by myself but I think there is a lot to like about it. It’s not at the level of James L Brooks most famous family drama, Terms of Endearment, but it’s a quaint movie that is easy to enjoy.

One reason I find this movie interesting comes from a personal experience I had long ago. When I was 20 years old I spent a summer working with my brother as the only white guy among his crew of Spanish speaking workers. It was hard work and I didn’t let my connection to the boss slow me down. I was amazed by the energy and work ethic of my peers enough to work harder than I have ever worked before. A few of the other guys spoke English but several spoke little to none at all. What I found most interesting is that by the end of the summer the language barrier didn’t pose such a problem anymore. I found that just talking to them as I would anybody else seemed to work. The level of communication was low but we could at least understand each other enough to work together. I never learned to speak Spanish but that summer is one I will always remember fondly and try to learn from.

Adam Sandler was one of my favorite comedians when I was a kid but I can’t stand to watch any of his movies as an adult and avoid them altogether. No matter what you do you simply can’t be a teenager again and find his antics funny like you did when you were young. I for one think Sandler has much more to offer than the stupid comedies he persists at. This movie is evidence of that because he shows so much potential as a serious actor not trying to be funny. I think that is Sandler’s problem in a nutshell, he tries too hard to be funny. I think the funniest people are the ones that make comedy effortless. They don’t have to try so hard because they are naturally funny. Sandler has made a fortune being the funny guy but I think he over does it far too often and has little to offer the mature movie fan.

The reason I don’t like this movie very much starts and stops with Tea Leoni. I don’t like her character and I don’t like her. Her promiscuous and obtuse character is just awful to watch and sit through. The way she treats her daughter, mother, and husband are all just too unpleasant for me. I can’t stand infidelity and in this movie she’s just such a selfish bitch about it. I can’t stand her and it’s the main reason I don’t like this movie very much. Maybe if a different actress was cast it would be different but Leoni just seems too comfortable and natural in this type of role for me.

While Paz Vega is excellent in this movie I think the top actress has to be Cloris Leachman. She is such a prolific and talented comedian. I love her drunken grandmother role in this movie and find it especially funny when she quits drinking and nobody notices. Her response that she must have been a really awesome drunk is just priceless.

This is a good enough movie but I don’t think anything about necessarily stands out and puts it apart from any other family drama/comedy out there. Before watching it I had actually mixed up part of it with This is 40 and I think that pretty much sums it up for me. It’s just another movie too much like too many others out there. I can’t stand watching it because of Tea Leoni but maybe you will feel differently. I don’t think this movie is worth my time but you may like it more than I did so don’t take my word for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Spartacus (1960)