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The Evening Star
Starring Shirley MacLaine,
Bill Paxton, Juliette Lewis and Miranda Richardson
Written and Directed by Robert Harling

As always, Cranky makes no comparison with source material, in this case the second novel by Larry McMurtry to detail the life and times of Aurora Greenway. He'll also try hard to lay off making comparisons to the first movie, Terms of Endearment. But Cranky will fail.

Cranky abhorred Terms of Endearment. Bored him to tears (as opposed to moved him to tears). The Evening Star, at least, emphasizes comedy rather than tearjerk -- until characters start dropping of old age. Oh, don't be surprised about that, this film occurs 15 years after the end of the first one, and Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) was not a spring chicken in the first place.

Whereas Terms was about the mother-daughter battle, The Evening Star is all about grandma. Aurora, who always was a controlling bitch ("I need to be selfish . . . in the good sense," she says) has learned to lighten up a little. That doesn't make her any less controlling -- she still tries to set a path for her now grown grandkids -- but rather than the Sturm und Drang of the last flick, most everything is played for laughs.

There are relatively minor subplots about her grandsons, and one more substantial one involving the granddaughter, Melanie (Juliette Lewis). Rather than rebelling by smoking pot, Melanie first gets the hell out of the house, and then out of the state. Aurora has evolved enough not to follow.

The focus on MacLaine leads to the elevation of the maid to a major player in the new work. Rosie (Marion Ross) now functions as Aurora's best friend, who knows that the real problem is that, despite all those around her, Aurora is alone.

A number of stories return to haunt you from the last flick. Patsy (Miranda Richardson) is still around, in competition for control of Melanie, and for the bed of Aurora's lover (you have to see it to believe it). The gaggle of fawning admirers is reduced to one, this year a retired general rather than an astronaut. The men of Terms are dispensed with in a line or two between Aurora and her newly introduced shrink (Bill Paxton), and after a five minute breath-of-fresh-air cameo by Jack Nicholson, are not heard of again.

Nicholson's cameo is a film saver. That twinkle in the eye will raise the caliber of a picture most every time.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Evening Star, he would have paid . . .


This time it's double the death for your dollar.

Click to buy films starring Shirley MacLaine
Click to buy films starring Bill Paxton
Click to buy films starring Juliette Lewis
Click to buy films starring Jack Nicholson

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