Defending Your Life
A 'Spiritually Minded' Movie


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Synopsis [from Fandango]

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.


Bob Diamond: Being from Earth, as you are, and using as little of your brain as you do, your life has pretty much been devoted to dealing with fear.

Daniel Miller: It has?

Bob Diamond: Well everybody on Earth deals with fear - that's what little brains do.

Bob Diamond:...Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything - real feelings, true happiness, real joy. They can't get through that fog. But you lift it, and buddy, you're in for the ride of your life.

Daniel Miller: God... my three percent is swimming.

Bob Diamond: There was one person you were really cheap with. Over and over again. I wish you'd been more generous with him.

Daniel Miller: Who?

Bob Diamond: You.

Julia: I can't get you out of my mind.

Daniel Miller: Tell me about it. You know these screenings are so tough for me. And yet when I see you I instantly feel OK.

Julia: So that's great, right?

Daniel Miller: Well I don't think it has anything to do with me, that's what worries me. I think you're doing it.

Julia: What - what am I doing?

Daniel Miller: I'm not sure. But I always read that you had to be OK with yourself first before you could be OK with another person. Now I feel OK with you. But I don't know how OK I was with myself before I met you, so maybe you're making me OK.

Julia: You're not that OK.

Daniel Miller: OK.

  • Starring: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn
  • Directed by: Albert Brooks
  • Runtime: 1 hour 52 minutes
  • Release year: 1991


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