Defending Your Life

7.21 h 51 min1991X-RayPG
HD. Albert Brooks stars as a dead yuppie who must defend the choices he made in life in this outrageous comedy.
Albert Brooks
Albert BrooksMeryl StreepRip Torn
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Lee GrantBuck Henry
Michael Grillo
Warner Bros.
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

2834 global ratings

  1. 80% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

A. Film LoverReviewed in the United States on March 31, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Three five star reviews from people who haven't seen the Blu-ray - I just can't
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Why do people do this on Amazon? Do they check their brains at the door? They give this Blu-ray release five stars while admitting they can't wait to get it. What is the purpose of that? Who does that serve? Certainly not the customers and certainly not the Criterion Blu-ray.

In any case, the movie is the best of Albert Brooks and, for me, the only one of his films that truly works from start to finish and that's because we take the relationship between Julia and Daniel seriously and therefore are invested in them. The jokes are the jokes and very funny, but in the end that's not what the movie is about. It's perfectly cast straight down the line, well-directed, well-shot, well-scored (the music helps a LOT) and everything just works. The final six minutes of the film are glorious.

The new transfer is pretty wonderful and replicates what the film should look like. I'm not sure it could be better, and given the release prints of the early 1990s, it probably looks better than it did in the theaters. Anyway, you can't go wrong with this, even if you don't like his other films. The extras aren't many but it's nice to have the new conversation with Brooks done "remotely".
10 people found this helpful
Peter OlafsonReviewed in the United States on December 30, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brooks’ best direction and one of his best roles!
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Brooks’ best direction to date (which is saying something after the brilliant Lost in America) and one of his best roles. (His vindictive turn in “Broadcast News” may be a bit better.) He gets amazing naturalistic performances out of principals Streep and Torn and sprightly ones out of even lesser players like Buck Henry. As writer, he gives us a strange but familiar world that is instantly fascinating and approachable. (I kept wanting to insert myself into the movie and ask questions about it.) And while the ending is rather conventional, it works, damn it, and I was surprised to find myself wiping away tears.
15 people found this helpful
C. C. BlackReviewed in the United States on January 21, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
An Adorable Comedy
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This little-known gem from 1991 is a throwback to the tidy rom-coms of the 1940s: not a great movie, but a cozy, very funny fantasy. The premise is clever: after you die, you're transported to a clean, well-kept way-station where you undergo a trial whose verdict results either in your returning to earth for improvement or advancing to a higher plane (such as the one that's run by the authorities in this brightly lit Twilight Zone). Albert Brooks's story and direction are perfectly structured; the pace and length are just right; the humor is clean; and all the stars—Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, and Lee Grant—are playing at the top of their games.
4 people found this helpful
CryeffReviewed in the United States on August 1, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A beautiful, light, enjoyable movie. Imagine dying and it's like going to Disney Land...sort of
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Human love something novel. This movie in addition to being nicely acted and filmed was novel.

It is a positive idea of how it might be in Heaven, (spoiler alert) where you wake up after death and are put on a shuttle to go to "Disney Land/Heaven." There you are assessed over a few days to decide where you go next, but during that time everything you eat is the best you have ever had, and you don't have to worry about gaining weight, or exercising. There you can go to a movie theater and watch yourself in your past lives, for fun...

The reason comedy is comedy, and jokes are funny, is because the ideas are usually unexpected, novel, a different way to see things. And this movie did that. It was relaxing, empowering, gentle and fun.
I have watched it for at least twenty years over and over again, and it is always enjoyable.
One person found this helpful
Gardner CampbellReviewed in the United States on August 9, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brooks' Masterpiece
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This movie is Brooks' masterpiece. Here he combines, to poignant effect, his quirky comedy with his wholehearted search for love and meaning in a strangely beautiful and perplexing world. Rip Torn's performance is filled with weirdly entertaining gusto. Meryl Streep's performance is beyond praise. She has a deft comic touch in her line deliveries as well as in her physical acting, so much so that I wish she had found more roles like this one. Perhaps there are no other roles like this one. She's aided, of course, by a warmly believable chemistry between her and the lead. It sounds unlikely, but this couple affects me as deeply as Bogie and Bacall -- or Allen and Keaton in Annie Hall.

Don't miss this movie.
16 people found this helpful
Freestyle BarracudaReviewed in the United States on August 14, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Defending Your Life is one of the best movies of all time.
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Defending Your Life is one of the best movies of all time. Albert Brooks is hilarious. He stars, writes, directs, and probably cleans up in this one. He literally does it all. I don't care for Meryl Streep usually but she is perfectly cast here. If you want a cool feel good movie that is really well developed and funny throughout, you'll love this one.
11 people found this helpful
D. Scott ApelReviewed in the United States on January 23, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Real "Killer" B Movie (one of 237!)
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This review is an excerpt from my book "Killer B's: The 237 Best Movies On Video You've (Probably) Never Seen," which is available as an ebook on Amazon. If you enjoy this review, there are 236 more like it in the book (plus a whole lot more). Check it out!

DEFENDING YOUR LIFE: Brooks' vision of the afterlife, "Judgment City," is part Vegas, part L.A., part DisneyWorld, part Universal Studios tour--and a little bit of heaven (you can eat as much as you want and never gain an ounce!): a fully thought-through purgatory, both practical and pleasant. The characters, too, are engaging: Brooks' Dan, all too human, sweatily attempting to weasel his way out of his transgressions; Rip Torn, as his lawyer, expansive, avuncular, with just a touch of condescending hubris. (A high point is hearing him explain why there are no children in Judgment City.)

The criteria for "moving forward" are a bit vague--one is "held back by fears"--but the essential question seems to be one of cowardice vs. courage: choosing to embrace life in spite of its tragedies, suffering and disappointments, or living timidly, in quiet denial and defeat. This film chooses to embrace life, and illustrates by example that while loving another person is the biggest risk in life, it also yields the greatest rewards. This philosophical fantasy disguised as a romantic comedy will make you laugh and cry, and it might just leave you pondering questions both grave--and beyond. And isn't that what we really want from a film--or from a life?
14 people found this helpful
Las Vegas CowboyReviewed in the United States on March 17, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Classic Date Night Movie
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I don't even like Rom-Com's, yet this film transcends that genre.

At it's core, this film can be categorized as a Romantic Comedy, however it is more a film about self discovery than it is about romance.

After Albert Brooks' character dies in the first 5 minutes (sorry, it's not a spoiler if it's preface) he finds himself facing the daunting task of convincing the Universe that he more than a mere "lowly" human in hilarious fashion. In the process, Albert Brooks skewers many of the most fundamental aspects of being human while, at the same time, embracing them.

Absolutely wonderful. Worth every minute.
10 people found this helpful
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