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

Director:

Albert Brooks

Writer:

Albert Brooks
5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Albert Brooks ... Daniel Miller
Michael Durrell ... Agency Head
James Eckhouse ... Jeep Owner
Gary Beach ... Car Salesman
Julie Cobb ... Tram Guide
Peter Schuck Peter Schuck ... Stan
Time Winters ... Porter
Rip Torn ... Bob Diamond
Sharlie Stuart Sharlie Stuart ... Susan
Beth Black Beth Black ... Soap Opera Woman
Clayton Norcross ... Soap Opera Man
James MacKrell James MacKrell ... Game Show Moderator
Wil Albert Wil Albert ... Game Show Contestant
Sage Allen Sage Allen ... Game Show Contestant
Mary Pat Gleason ... Waitress
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Storyline

Just after being killed in a car crash, Daniel Miller finds himself in Judgment City, a waiting area for the newly deceased. While there, one must prove in a courtroom-style process that he successfully overcame his fears. Daniel meets Julia in an afterlife comedy club, and falls in love with her. Julia seems to have what it takes to move to the 'next stage' of existence, but Daniel's worried he'll be sent back - and lose the one person he loves so much. 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Buck Henry, who plays Albert Brooks's substitute attorney, also appeared in Heaven Can Wait (1978). In both films, Henry's character is an afterlife functionary assisting the main character. In the earlier film, plays a guardian angel who removes Warren Beatty's soul from his body before an almost certainly fatal accident. In both films, the assistance proves botched: Henry's character in the latter film fails to mount a proper defense; in the earlier film, Henry's character removes Warren Beatty's soul from his body immediately before an almost certain fatal accident, not knowing that Beatty's character was actually supposed to survive. See more »

Goofs

The book of Judgement City on the coffee table has a picture on downtown Denver, Colorado on the cover. 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

References Patton (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Home on the Range
(uncredited)
Written by Brewster M. Higley and Daniel E. Kelley
Arranged by David W. Guion
Performed by Albert Brooks
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User Reviews

An amazing and unique commentary on life and death
21 May 2001 | by moroboshi-3See all my reviews

Defending Your Life is one of those movies that has stuck with me over the years for some reason. The most likely one is that this film presents one of the most plausible and thought-provoking views of the afterlife that I have ever heard from a movie, or anywhere else for that matter. The protagonist (Brooks) dies and wakes up in Judgement City, where it's just like earth, only 70 degrees and clear all the time, and you can eat all of the most delicious food in existence that you want and not gain a pound.

The catch is that you are essentially placed on trial. Several random days from your like are examined, and the judges decide whether you will "move on", or be sent back to earth to try again. The most interesting thing to me is that you aren't judged according to how well you followed the commandments, but on whether you let your fear keep you from making the right choices in your life. You see, fear is what keeps those of us on Earth (comically referred to as "little brains") from realizing our full potential.

As great as this theory is, it's the character played by Albert Brooks that makes this film worth watching. We can sense his bewilderment, as well as his shame at not living his life as well as he could have. In fact, it is so easy to empathize with his character that I felt sorry for him, seeing myself in his place one day. But Don't get me wrong, Defending Your Life is also a very funny movie. Judgement City is a sort of parallel reality to our own, in ways that are very pleasant to see. And the ending is perfect. You owe it to yourself to see this movie.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

5 April 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Defending Your Life See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$92,622, 24 March 1991

Gross USA:

$16,371,128

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,371,128
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Geffen Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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