Starting my day with watching it was a good idea. The great performances, the good transitions from funny to sad, the very pretty outfits and dresses of MacLaine. I just hate how much it made me weep, but just because a movie makes you cry, doesn't mean it's no good. I just have a weakness for family movies.
When this came out dramadies were less box office prevalent than they've been in recent decades, therefore it was a bit novel when it was released. TOE is well-scripted and candid about some then-taboo topics (cancer, infidelity, aging) and the cast do their jobs with aplomb - perhaps then a great film for the time. But times have changed and ouch that wretched score.
Garrett shows up at the hotel, looks up and says simply "Aurora", he climbs the stairs to her, and she finally allows herself to weep for her dying daughter, I bawled like a baby. Schmaltz and all, this is one of my favorite films. Extraordinary talent created relationships that were totally honest. MacLaine and Nicholson are perfection together; the comedy is as good as the drama. I love Brooks' writing.
The only part that struck an emotional chord with me was the, "Give my daughter the shot!" scene. In the end I find myself without a connection to any of the characters and left questioning, "This was nominated for... how many Oscars?"
I'm curious to what extent Scorcese and Schoonmaker were influenced by James L. Brooks -- I can see in TERMS and in BROADCAST NEWS their late-era GOODFELLAS style of pacing, condensing of time, fragmented moments that nevertheless stand as full short films in themselves. That team's films, along with those two films by Brooks, stand as some of the sharpest, most well-paced American films ever made.
Reading some of the comments here, it seems that many people are very harsh on this movie. Personally speaking, I loved it. The story was engaging and I loved how it navigated successfully between drama and comedy and how Brooks avoided turning the characterds into caricatures and instead took time to develop them as likeable but ultimately flawed people. The acting is brilliant, Winger and MacLaine in particular.