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Defending Your Life (2001)

Albert Brooks , Meryl Streep , Albert Brooks  |  PG |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (341 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Lee Grant, James Eckhouse
  • Directors: Albert Brooks
  • Writers: Albert Brooks
  • Producers: Herb Nanas, Michael Grillo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 4.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 4.0)
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, Spanish, English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 9, 2010
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (341 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0045HCIY0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,947 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Defending Your Life" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

A romantic comedy about an ad executive who dies in a car collision and finds himself in Judgement City, defending his life before a celestial court. When he falls in love with a fellow candidate, his interest in staying in heaven changes.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this Heaven? 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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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies May 3, 2000
By A Customer
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I use 47% of my brain - guess how much you use? February 19, 2006
By MEWZIK
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comedy for big brains 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great, super fast delivery
Published 1 day ago by hubbub1818AW
4.0 out of 5 stars Conversation starter
Good premise for the movie. I enjoyed the story and thought it was cute. Made for some good conversation at home.
Published 13 days ago by Beverly G. Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars A life lesson is here
It is an old movie but has a life lesson to be learned. I won't give it away, but it is worth a viewing.
Published 22 days ago by Dale R. Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Oldy but Goody!
Saw this 20 years ago and have thought of it in situations where the theme resonates. Clever concept and nicely acted. Worth the time to watch!
Published 26 days ago by Classact
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Saw this movie many years ago and liked it then. Wanted to see it again because I forgot some of it.
Published 28 days ago by KaysWay
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Brooks and Streep are stellar. The theme of having to answer for various choices in your life is a good one. Strongest theme is overcoming fear. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ArtMuseLit
5.0 out of 5 stars Another *5* star movie that has achieved Cult Statis!!
If you have never seen this movie, its another one of those films that
is unfamiliar to most people. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert Pylant
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked But Shouldn't Be
This movie is often overlooked by people. I did this too but finally decided to watch it. I was pleased the I decided to give it a try. Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. A. Neal
2.0 out of 5 stars Preview is good, movie is not
Don't waste your money. I watched the entire thing, hoping for something good to surface, but unfortunately, it was not good throughout. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Consumer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept
Great concept, enjoyable to watch, could've gone deeper. The movie could've gone deeper into meaning and explanations while still being funny
Published 2 months ago by Wadayamacallit
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