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Defending Your Life

503 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Immediately following his death by bus, Daniel finds himself in the afterlife facing his past. If you can't make a case for having lived a full and fearles

superb music score won an Academy Award.s life, you must go back to Earth and try again. But Daniel doesn't want to go back after he meets Julia in this heavenly fable written and directed by Albert Brooks.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Roger Behr, Beth Black
  • Directors: Albert Brooks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown), French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (503 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056WRG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,182 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Defending Your Life" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By A. Gyurisin on September 11, 2005
Format: DVD
Defending Your Life is one of the smartest, funniest, and original films to come out of the 1990s. Albert Brooks, playing both behind and in front of the camera, does a fantastic job of creating this "courtroom drama" set in Purgatory. By keeping a the films themes short and simple, enticing us with brilliant performances by Meryl Streep and Rip Torn, and bringing a true sense of fantasy to this picture, Brooks keeps us hooked from the opening scenes until the last. Panned by most critics, I actually found this film to be extremely witty with a Wes Anderson-esque type of dry martini humor. Brooks is easily able to transform himself into a likeable "every man" that finds himself defending his "normal" life. What works is that it feels and seems like your own life. Brooks' character isn't a superhero, he isn't a genius (only using 3% of his brain), and he isn't a playboy, he is your average human on the street. Makes decent money, celebrates being alone, just bought a new BMW, and is coasting through life rather simply. Sound like anyone you may know? Brooks creates this sensation that Judgment City could exist, that the trials of your life could happen, and within all of this chaos and confusion, love could emerge.

Albert Brooks is a very smart writer. He wouldn't create your typical Hollywood love story and send it through the recycling machine. His approach to love in this film is totally random, somewhat sporadic, but yet honestly real. There is a mystery between he and Meryl Streep's relationship. That is what I loved so much about them. Typically in films of this nature you have this elaborate story of how two people meet, they fall in love, they fight, and suddenly discover that their passion is stronger than ever before (normally due to some unforeseen ...
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is wonderful! It gives you that comfortable easy feeling that so very few films can really deliver without being false in some way. Meryl Streep shines as Julia, the lovely woman of Albert Brook's dreams. She is so down to earth that we all fall in love with her. I love the subtlety of this picture. I love the well filled out characters that populate the film My favorite is the waiter at the Italian restaurant, he is so funny! Whoever said that this film has wonderful attention to detail is right. You can watch this film ten times (and I have!), and see something new every time. It is also inspirational, in addition to being humorous. Fear is our worst enemy. It keeps us from the things we love, it bogs us down with trivialities and leads to an ultimately meaningless life. This film explores these themes with a light touch. Also, if you are looking for a film with no sex, no real violence, and very mild language, this is the one for you. This film is terrific, it is in my top 5 favorite movies list. I highly recommend it!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MEWZIK on February 19, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you are not a follower of the traditional love story, Defending Your Life is the movie for you. It's more than a non-traditional love story. Brooks dies and goes to Heaven...not so fast. Brooks, throughout his past lives(!) settled for less. Unknown to him, this is his 20th visit to Judgement City, an afterlife evaluation city that makes the final prognosis, if you will, to send him to Heaven or back to earth for the 21st time. With an all-star cast, this has to be my favorite Albert Brooks movie, hands down. Funny, clever and original. Over the last 15 years, I must have turned a couple dozen people on to this movie. A Must Own.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cody on January 27, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Released in 1991, "Defending Your Life" is one of those rare movies that is at once funny, intelligent and, yes, profound.
Writer, director and star Albert Brooks plays Daniel Miller - an advertising executive who finds himself driving headlong into a bus on his birthday. Waking up dead in the perpetually sunny and 74-degree Judgment City, Daniel discovers that he must "defend" the life he lived on Earth - a process which consists of reviewing selected days from his life to determine the extent to which he overcame fear and lived genuinely as a result. If he is found by the two judge panel to have sufficiently conquered fear, he is allowed to pass on to a higher plane, if not he will return to Earth to try again. He is assigned a Defender (played with amiable bluster by Rip Torn) and must argue against a steely Prosecutor (Lee Grant). During the course of his stay in Judgment City, Daniel meets and falls in love with Julia (the lovely Meryl Streep), another recently deceased arrival. Without revealing too much more, it is sufficient to say that the love Daniel develops for Julia is crucial to the outcome of his "trial".
This movie was a delight to watch! The humor ranges from wry observation about the human condition to pop culture sight gags such as Shirley Maclaine hosting the Past Lives Pavilion (a Judgment City attraction in which visitors can glimpse their past life incarnations). The philosophy of the film, the idea that fear is a crucial element to be worked through while we are here, resonated deeply with me. It is fear in one form or another, after all, which prevents us from leading genuine lives - the fear of death or the fear of defying Societal Will ("the Dragon of Thou Shalt", to quote Joseph Campbell) and being truly ourselves, for example.
"Defending Your Life" is the perfect antidote to the flood of moronic comedies that have been so popular of late, a movie that will make you laugh and, perhaps, think.
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