Defending Your Life (1991)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  5 April 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 12,852 users  
Reviews: 84 user | 24 critic

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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4 nominations. See more awards »



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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 <>

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
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Did You Know?


Showbusiness trade paper Variety said that the film contained Ferenc Molnár's "Liliom idea of being judged in a fanciful after-life". See more »


In the Past Lives Pavilion, as the subjects walk to their viewing booths, the overhead asks them to proceed to the "first available booth on the left." The subjects actually proceed to the last available booth. 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 ...
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Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.9 (2011) See more »


Written by Erroll Garner
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User Reviews

Awesome and heart-warming
17 September 2004 | by See all my reviews

Albert Brooks definitely gives us his take on the afterlife. After watching movies such as "Chances Are" "Ghost" and "Heart and Souls" afterlife hasn't looked better. Brooks is a comedic genius but not only as an actor but a writer and director as well.

In addition, Brooks was joined in this film by Rip Torn and Meryl Streep, who are phenomenal talents of their own. Their additions to the movie makes it that much funnier and dramatically better.

Aside from "What Dreams May Come," "Defending Your Life" is the best afterlife film I've seen because it is different than all the others. Brooks is a relief since his comedy is genuinely funny.

This movie was a joy to watch because of the fun cast, unique plot and fun loving environment. Brooks, the writer, created the script with laughter in mind and enjoyment in his heart.

The setting of "Defending Your Life" was very creative because it seemed so unique yet so real and true to life on earth. I was very impressed by the set designers at what they came up with to use as sets.

Brooks created each scene with humor and wanted the film to be as original as possible. He succeeded because I enjoyed and laughed throughout the film and only original films do that for me.

"Defending Your Life" will go down movie history as one of the more original and funnier films dealing with the afterlife. This is a must see for everyone.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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