I’d really like to give writer-director James L. Brooks the benefit of the doubt here, because I think — as I usually don’t about asinine romantic comedies — that he means well. He simply doesn’t seem to realize that pathologically messed up characters are neither cute nor charming.
It’s a complicated love/hate relationship that mothers and daughters share. They can be each other’s best friend and worst enemy, often at the same time. Terms of Endearment perfectly captures that morass of conflicting emotions — at least from the daughter’s point of view, as I can testify from personal experience.