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Defending Your Life (1991)

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

Director:

Albert Brooks

Writer:

Albert Brooks
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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

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

5 April 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Visa al paraíso See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$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

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The trams used throughout the film are older ones from Universal Studios Hollywood. See more »

Goofs

One the day of his 39th birthday (and fatal car accident), Daniel say that in 2 more months he will have worked at the firm for 10 years. However, Lena shows Daniel taking the job at 4 months after his 29th birthday, not 2 months. 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 ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Supernatural: Defending Your Life (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Misty
Written by Erroll Garner
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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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