[box cover]

The Evening Star

No one else could play Aurora Greenway as well as Shirley MacLaine. The heroine of Terms of Endearment and its sequel, The Evening Star, is feisty, emotional, needy, imperious, frank, arrogant, loving, selfish, and nurturing — a crazy bundle of contradictions who believes none of her loved ones are more capable of running their lives than she is. MacLaine deservedly won an Oscar for playing Aurora in 1983's Terms; she and Debra Winger, who played Aurora's daughter Emma, delivered one of Hollywood's most realistically bumpy mother-daughter relationships in the classic tearjerker. So it's no wonder MacLaine agreed to revisit Aurora in Evening Star. Unfortunately, Aurora's eccentricities haven't aged as well as her looks. Based on Larry McMurtry's novel by the same name, The Evening Star is an uneven family drama that doesn't come close to matching Terms' level of emotional impact. It opens about 15 years or so after the end of Terms, on a day when Aurora 's carefully arranged world goes to pieces. Her three grandchildren — the tots she took in when Winger's Emma died at the end of the first movie — are all disappointments. Tommy (Father of the Bride's George Newbern) is a hostile jailbird, Teddy (Mackenzie Astin) is in a go-nowhere job and has a go-nowhere girlfriend, and Melanie (a too-whiny Juliette Lewis) is so caught up in her relationship with Bruce (a hilariously mullet-haired Scott Wolf from TV's Party of Five) that she's ignoring her college classes. Plus, Aurora has to juggle Rosie (Marion Ross), her devoted maid; scorned swain Hector (Ben Johnson); former lover Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson, reprising his Terms role in a quick cameo); and perpetual thorn-in-her-side Patsy (Miranda Richardson), Emma's best friend. In an effort to sort it all out, Aurora starts seeing a therapist (Bill Paxton) and arranging the thousands of letters, photos, and souvenirs she's collected over the years into a chronicle of her life. But her attempts to create order out of chaos are futile — try as she might, there's no way even Aurora Greenway can stop life from following its own quirky pattern. The Evening Star's main shortcoming is that it lacks Terms' firm center; there's no one mainstay relationship like Aurora and Emma's at the heart of the sequel, and it suffers as a consequence. That said, as an offbeat chronicle of Southern life (not unlike director Robert Harling's first feature effort, Steel Magnolias), The Evening Star certainly isn't unwatchable. MacLaine has her moments as Aurora, and the scenes between her and Nicholson's Garrett really snap. Paramount didn't go to great lengths for the DVD edition of the movie — the only extras are the trailer and a quiet, somewhat choppy commentary track from Harling. Scene selection, a table-of-contents insert, and English captions round out the features list. The movie does look and sound good, with an anamorphic widescreen transfer that's crystal clear, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is more than adequate. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech



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