In an afterlife resembling the present-day US, people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage.

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

The first true story of what happens after you die.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

5 April 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Visa al paraíso  »

Box Office

Gross:

$16,371,128 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Defending Your Life was released around six months after Postcards from the Edge, a film-a-clef loosely based on the real-life experiences of mother and daughter Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Both stars had been close to Albert Brooks since his high school days, and remained so through the production of Postcards. Fisher scripted that movie, and it co-starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Brooks himself then tapped Streep and MacLaine for Defending Your Life, his next project. Reynolds teamed up with Brooks five years later; she had a critically-acclaimed starring role in his comedy Mother (1996). See more »

Goofs

When Daniel and Julia are walking up to hotel for the first time, the front of the hotel very clearly has a canvas overlay saying "Majestic Hotel", covering the real name of the hotel being used. See more »

Quotes

[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.
[laughter]
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".
[laughter]
Daniel Miller: So, maybe in three years I can ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Murphy Brown: Defending Your Life (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Misty
Written by Erroll Garner
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User Reviews

 
Vastly underrated film, a real treat. Carpe diem.
6 April 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

This film's tag-line "The first true story of what happens after you die," is so perfect for this film. This film is so consistently funny, I only wish I could screen it for all my friends at the same time, so I could share it with every one of them. I've seen this film many times, and enjoy it more each time. "Lost In America" is a great film of Albert Brooks', but this one is my favourite of his. Sadly, I rarely encounter someone who's already seen it. When I think of underrated films, I think of this one first.

Right off the bat, our protagonist, Brooks, is dead, flattened by a bus. Next thing you know, he's in Judgment City, where people go when they die, and where it will be decided if he will go on to the next level or go back for another crack at life on Earth.

In Judgment City he's reminded of all the key events in his life in something like a flashback screening room and his life is then evaluated by the custodians of the city, who will decide if he goes forward or not. Much like a court appearance.

There are great performances by supporting players, especially Rip Torn, and while I never associated Meryl Streep with great comedy, she holds her own as Brooks' love interest. There is a hilariously understated performance by Buck Henry.

The most fun with this film is learning bit by bit about the inner workings of Judgment City, as each aspect seems to have been well thought out and executed beautifully, right down to eating arrangements. A true masterful writing achievement for Brooks, who has shown his brilliance in many other films as well.

This film should've been a big success, but in a way, I feel privileged to be one of the few people I know who has seen this film and enjoyed it so much. I'll do my part though, spreading the good word as much as possible.

See it before you die.


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