Defending Your Life (1991)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  5 April 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 12,860 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?


One of the co-stars of this movie, Buck Henry, previously co-directed (with Warren Beatty) another romantic comedy-fantasy film involving afterlife, Heaven Can Wait (1978). See more »


In the Italian restaurant scene, when Daniel asks Julia to turn back around so that Lena wouldn't see her sucking in the long strand of pasta, there is a split second where the strand can be seen falling out of Julia's mouth, but it remains in her mouth in the very next shot when she's facing Daniel again. 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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Referenced in The Exes: Defending Your Wife (2013) See more »


Written by Erroll Garner
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User Reviews

This film changed my life...
2 December 2001 | by (Nutley, New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

This film changed my life and helped me to become a better person.

This movie made me realize how MY life will look when showed upon "the big screen". "Defending Your Life" made me think about how I have handled fear and adversity in my life. It also made me consider the effect my actions can have on the lives of others.

Because of this movie, I can tell you that my bus driver's name is Joe, and my mailman is Bob.

I never liked Meryl Streep in other movies, but playing Julia, she is absolutely charming. This is one of the few movies I plan to buy and keep.

63 of 71 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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