The Evening Star

Bomb Rating: 

Kill off enough people and eventually someone will start bawling.

It's a mystery as to why first-time director Robert Harling even bothered making a sequel to "Terms of Endearment" when he could have just filmed a documentary in the cancer ward of his local hospital. So many people drop dead in "The Evening Star" that you begin to think it might actually be a sequel to "Pet Sematary."

The reason these people are croaking is because they're all old as hell. Hardly any of them are still breathing by the film's end, which is apparently Harling's definition of a tear-jerker: Kill off enough people and eventually someone will start bawling.

First there's Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine), old as dirt and sure to croak. She's been saddled with the task of raising her daughter's kids because her daughter died in the first movie. Now it's fifteen years later and the kids are not exactly Nobel laureates. Melanie (Juliette Lewis) is bitchy and resentful, Tommy (George Newbern) is in jail and Teddy (Mackenzie Astin) drives a tow truck.

Fortunately, there's nothing like smoking a few geriatrics to bring a family together. One look at all the old people in the film and you can bet the farm they'll be taking the dirt nap shortly. There's the maid (Marion Ross) and the General (Donald Moffat) and the next door neighbor, Arthur (Ben Johnson). In the end, only Arthur seems to escape the icy clutch of death; that is, until you get to the credits and discover that the film is dedicated to Ben Johnson. Given the tone of the movie, Ben would be wise to check the air mixture in his trailer. Who knows what Harling might do for those few extra sympathy points?

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