89 user 28 critic

Defending Your Life (1991)

1:48 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

In an afterlife way station resembling a block of hotels, the lives of the recently-deceased are examined in a court-like setting.



4 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A husband and wife in their 30s decide to quit their jobs, live as free spirits and cruise America in a Winnebago.

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty, Sylvia Farrel
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Albert Brooks directs himself as a successful film editor with far too many issues that affects the relationship between him and his remarkably patient girlfriend.

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Albert Brooks, Kathryn Harrold, Tyann Means
Mother II (1996)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A neurotic, twice-divorced sci-fi writer moves back in with his mother to solve his personal problems.

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds, Paul Collins
Real Life (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A pushy, narcissistic filmmaker persuades a Phoenix family to let him and his crew film their everyday lives, in the manner of the ground-breaking PBS series "An American Family". However, ... See full summary »

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Dick Haymes, Albert Brooks, Matthew Tobin
The Muse (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

With his career on the skids, a Hollywood screenwriter enlists the aid of a modern-day muse, who proves to test his patience.

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

To improve its relations with Muslim countries, the United States government sends comedian Albert Brooks to south Asia to write a report on what makes followers of Islam laugh.

Director: Albert Brooks
Stars: Albert Brooks, Sheetal Sheth, John Carroll Lynch
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A substance-addicted actress tries to look on the bright side even as she is forced to move back in with her mother to avoid unemployment.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A mother whose child was killed in a Dingo attack in the Australian outback fights to prove her innocence when she is accused of murder.

Director: Fred Schepisi
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Dale Reeves
Plenty (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A young Englishwoman spends 20 years to make whatever kind of life for herself at the expense of others around her in post-World War 2 England.

Director: Fred Schepisi
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Charles Dance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Respected liberal Senator Joe Tynan is asked to lead the opposition to a Supreme Court appointment. It means losing an old friend and fudging principles to make the necessary deals, as well... See full summary »

Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Stars: Alan Alda, Barbara Harris, Meryl Streep
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Two parents deal with the effects when their son is accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Stars: Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Edward Furlong
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Five unmarried sisters make the most of their simple existence in rural Ireland in the 1930s.

Director: Pat O'Connor
Stars: Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Gerard McSorley


Cast overview, first billed only:
Agency Head
Jeep Owner
Car Salesman
Tram Guide
Peter Schuck ...
Sharlie Stuart ...
Beth Black ...
Soap Opera Woman
Soap Opera Man
Game Show Moderator
Wil Albert ...
Game Show Contestant
Sage Allen ...
Game Show Contestant


Yuppie Daniel Miller is killed in a car accident and goes to Judgment City, a waiting room for the afterlife. During the day, he must prove in a courtroom-style process that he successfully overcame his fears (a hard task, given the pitiful life we are shown); at night, he falls in love with Julia, the only other young person in town. Nights are a time of hedonistic pleasure, since you can (for instance) eat all you want without getting fat. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The first true story of what happens after you die.


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

5 April 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Visa al paraíso  »

Box Office


$16,371,128 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The fourth feature film directed by Albert Brooks. See more »


When Daniel is riding and subsequently falling off of the snow mobile, the dialog does not match his lips. See more »


[first lines]
Daniel Miller: I was driving to work this morning thinking I will be here, in 2 months, it'll be 10 years. And you're like my real family. Isn't that tragic.
Daniel Miller: I got a call from my mother this morning, she wished me a happy birthday, and hinted around the fact that I wasn't making enough money. If you can call "are ya still making the same salary, honey" a hint. And my ex-wife used to say the same thing, although she never used the name "honey".
Daniel Miller: So, maybe in three years I can ...
See more »


References Patton (1970) See more »


Something's Coming
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Barbra Streisand
Courtesy of CBS Records Music Licensing Department
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Eat All You Want!
18 July 2002 | by See all my reviews

Albert Brooks' view of death is very pleasing to me! Imagine eating all you want while dressed in a comfortable Star Trek outfit! Plus the weather is always great!

Unfortunately, that's only at Judgement City..who knows the circumstances at the other places?

Daniel (Brooks) dies in the first ten minutes, while listening to Streisand in his brand new car. He is whisked off to Judgement City where everyone's life is evaluated. You see glimpses of your own past and have to defend your life and yourself. There's a prosecutor and your trial will decide if you 'go on' or 'go back' but none of that really matters that much. Its really just a reason to see all the flashbacks and relive all the memories. Everything is based on fear - how you handle it, if you let it run your life and, most importantly, if you overcame it at all.

On night in a comedy club he meets Julia, played by Meryl Streep. They get along immediately and enjoy each other very much. She has a better hotel than he does and as the movie progresses you see Daniel as more of a loser than anything, while Julia was apparently in the other category. She is on a first-name basis with her lawyer and gets invited to a dinner party he throws. Daniel eats alone in a sushi bar (very funny scene!) that night.

There is one priceless scene that I closely identified with. Daniel is on his way to Hong Kong (this is a scene from his life, obviously) and finds he has seat 'B', meaning he's between two people. He can't even consider sitting in between two people for that long a trip so asks the flight attendant if there are any available seats in first class. She says there is one seat, but it costs $3000 more. He takes it! I would also do a lot to avoid seat 'B', too!

Albert Brooks movies are never laugh riots, but they are not supposed to be. They are pleasantly amusing, memorable and thoughtful. This movie falls into the category too but does contain a couple of very funny scenes - during his 'trial' there is what seems to be a 'blooper' tape of his life that is very funny and played strictly for laughs. Its a little disrespectful of the character but Brooks never minds portraying himself as vulnerable and human.

Outcome is very satisfying. Streep underplays beautifully and the two actors have a considerable amount of chemistry. Rip Torn, Lee Grant and Buck Henry are the lawyers, and all of them are servicable. 8/10.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What's your favorite meal at Judgement City? CoffeeRules
'I was trapped near the intercircle of fault' zigistardusted
Funniest Part? dextermovies
Stopping at Waiter/server level timruf53223
movies about the afterlife james_madison
Favorite quotes FlyingPie
Discuss Defending Your Life (1991) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: