DEFENDING YOUR LIFE
(director/writer: Albert Brooks; cinematographer: Allen Daviau; editor: David Finfer; music: Michael Gore; cast: Albert Brooks (Daniel Miller), Meryl Streep (Julia), Rip Torn (Bob Diamond ), Lee Grant (Lena Foster), Buck Henry (Dick Stanley), Lillian Lehman (Judge), Shirley MacLaine (Herself), George D. Wallace (Daniel’s Judge), (); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Michael Grillo; Warner Home Video; 1991)
“It could have just as easily been set in Dr. Freud’s office, with his patient spilling his guts out on the couch.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Albert Brooks(“Lost in America”/”Real Life”/”The Muse”) is star, writer and director of this pleasant but sentimental satire on the afterlife.
The insecure, neurotic LA ad exec Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) dies in a car crash with a bus. He thereby finds himself in Judgment City, which looks like a pristine resort and is where he goes on trial with the celestial justice team. There’s a prosecutor (Lee Grant), a defender (Rip Torn) and two judges (George D. Wallace & Lillian Lehman) to review his life. In particular, his most embarrassing moments are reviewed. The trial will determine if he stays in the afterlife or must return to earth to correct his mistakes. During the trial we learn his dream woman (Meryl Streep), a fellow defendant in the afterlife, would be all that he wants if she weren’t also dead.
The film follows Woody Allen’s track of goofing on white middle-class male neurotics. In this case, the self-absorbed Albert character fights back with smart one-liners. It’s enjoyable fluff, well-acted, inventive and witty. It could have just as easily been set in Dr. Freud’s office, with his patient spilling his guts out on the couch.
REVIEWED ON 3/11/2015 GRADE: B