Defending Your Life

1991

Defending Your Life

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 32

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,939
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Movie Info

Albert Brooks wrote, directed, and stars in this philosophical comedy about a man having a hard time making a case for himself in the afterlife. When advertising executive Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) finds himself in a fatal car crash minutes after taking delivery on a new BMW, he's whisked away to Judgment City, where the recently dead are put on a sort of trial to decide their fate. If in your time on Earth you were able to face your fears and learn from your mistakes, you get to move on to a life in a better world. However, if you didn't, you have to go back to Earth and try again. As he spends the next several days watching various episodes from his life, Daniel gets the impression he doesn't stand much of a chance of moving on -- and his representative, Bob Diamond (Rip Torn), seems to have little confidence in his case. In the meantime, he frequents Judgment City's many restaurants (where the food is delicious and you can eat all you want without gaining an ounce), pays a visit to the Past Life Pavilion, and meets Julia (Meryl Streep), who seems so kind, sweet, and noble that her advancement is practically assured. Daniel and Julia fall in love, but what's going to happen if they don't end up in the same place? Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep make a witty and engaging romantic team in Defending Your Life, and Shirley MacLaine appears in a highly appropriate cameo. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Albert Brooks
as Daniel Miller
Rip Torn
as Bob Diamond
Lee Grant
as Lena Foster
Buck Henry
as Dick Stanley
Michael Durrell
as Agency Head
James Eckhouse
as Jeep Owner
Gary Beach
as Car Salesman
Julie Cobb
as Tram Guide
Beth Black
as Soap Opera Woman
Clayton Norcross
as Soap Opera Man
James MacKrell
as Game Show Moderator
Wil Albert
as Game Show Contestant
Sage Allen
as Game Show Contestant
Maxine Elliott
as Elderly Woman on Tram
Roger Behr
as Comedian
George D. Wallace
as Daniel's Judge
Lillian Lehman
as Daniel's Judge
Raffi Di Blasio
as Daniel as a Boy
Eric Ehasz
as Child in Schoolyard
Matthew Scharch
as Daniel as an Infant
S. Scott Bullock
as Daniel's Father
Carol Bivins
as Daniel's Mother
Gary Ballard
as Mr. Wadworth
Mary Mukogawa
as Sushi Hostess
Toshio Shikami
as Head Sushi Chef
Kagko Shikami
as Sushi Chef
Samee Park
as Sushi Chef
Tommy Inouye
as Sushi Chef
Bob Braun
as Talk Show Host
Jennifer Barlow
as Talk Show Guest
Joey Miyashima
as Casio Tipster
Nurit Koppel
as Daniel's Date
Susan Walters
as Daniel's Wife
Sidney Chankin
as Used Car Salesman
Greg Finley
as Used Car Salesman
Cliff Einstein
as Julia's Prosecutor
Rachel Bard
as Julia's Judge
Newell Alexander
as Julia's Judge
Hal Landon
as Man in Past Lives Pavilion
Ida Lee
as Woman in Past Lives Pavilion
Noley Thornton
as Victorian Girl
Glen Chin
as Sumo Wrestler
James Ekim
as Native
Ron Colby
as Majestic Doorman
James Paradise
as Stage Manager
Jerry Prell
as Banquet Manage
Arell Blanton
as Fire Marshal
Shana Ballard
as Julia's Daughter
Chris Macris
as Julia's Son
Joseph Darrell
as Maitre d'
James Manis
as Eduardo
Cathleen Chin
as Ticket Counter Agent
Lisa Sears
as Tram Port Attendant
Mark Dunlap
as Tram Port Attendant
Vernon Roguen
as Tram Port Attendant
Dennis Germain
as Tram Driver
Shirley MacLaine
as Woman at Past Lives Pavilion
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Critic Reviews for Defending Your Life

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (4)

Audience Reviews for Defending Your Life

  • Jan 26, 2013
    Hilarious and philosophically interesting. While it possess a lot of the hallmarks of standard romantic comedies, the unique take on the afterlife as well as Steep's and Brooks' chemistry elevates this film to some fantastic heights. Rip Torn and Lee Grant are pretty great as well.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 03, 2013
    A sweet fantasy into a weigh-station where the departed make cases for whether they lived fearless lives, and after judgment, they move onto greener, more intelligent pastures or get reincarnated back to Earth. I'm not a fan of Meryl Streep, but she is angel bright as the fearless Julia. There seems to be a hidden layer of stupidity in those who move on - like that their diet consists of dirt and worms, or the substitute lawyer who uses 43% of his brain but doesn't say a word in court to defend Daniel - but they're just sight gags that don't come to fruition.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2010
    One of my all-time favorites!
    Sean G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 15, 2010
    An imaginative, hilarious look at an ad-man (Albert Brooks) killed in a car accident and sent to a purgatory-type afterlife, where he awaits judgment concerning if he lived a good life or not in order to see if he will be granted access into Heaven. If he isn't, he'll be sent back to Earth to live another life again. Albert Brooks really nails this from every angle - writing, directing, and acting, this is a genius film. It doesn't quite keep up the same momentum is has during its last half hour or so, but this is a mostly great comedy which features a great premise, and one that is executed soundly in almost every conceivable aspect. The ending is a strange one but fitting in a weird way. It's also very re-watchable thanks to its ability to get huge laughs, while at the same time possessing the skill to know when to become serious when time calls for it.
    Dan S Super Reviewer

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