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Defending Your Life Details


Albert Brooks wrote, directed, and stars in this philosophical comedy about a man having a hard time making a case for himself in the afterlife. When advertising executive Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) finds himself in a fatal car crash minutes after taking delivery on a new BMW, he's whisked away to Judgment City, where the recently dead are put on a sort of trial to decide their fate. If in your time on Earth you were able to face your fears and learn from your mistakes, you get to move on to a life in a better world. However, if you didn't, you have to go back to Earth and try again. As he spends the next several days watching various episodes from his life, Daniel gets the impression he doesn't stand much of a chance of moving on -- and his representative, Bob Diamond (Rip Torn), seems to have little confidence in his case. In the meantime, he frequents Judgment City's many restaurants (where the food is delicious and you can eat all you want without gaining an ounce), pays a visit to the Past Life Pavilion, and meets Julia (Meryl Streep), who seems so kind, sweet, and noble that her advancement is practically assured. Daniel and Julia fall in love, but what's going to happen if they don't end up in the same place? Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep make a witty and engaging romantic team in Defending Your Life, and Shirley MacLaine appears in a highly appropriate cameo. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

  • Release date:March 22, 1991


Albert Brooks
as Daniel Miller
Meryl Streep
as Julia
Rip Torn
as Bob Diamond
Lee Grant
as Lena Foster
Buck Henry
as Dick Stanley
Shirley MacLaine
as Herself
Michael Durrell
as Agency Head
Cathleen Chin
as Ticket Counter Agent
Ernie Brown
as Ernie
Joey Miyashima
as Casio Tipster
Lisa Sears
as Tram Port Attendant
Newell Alexander
as Julia's Judge
Ron Colby
as Majestic Doorman
Tommy Inouye
as Sushi Chef
Ethan Randall
as Steve
Chris Macris
as Julia's Son
Gary Ballard
as Mr. Wadworth
Joseph Darrell
as Maitre d'
Marilyn Rockafellow
as Helen
Art Frankel
as Arthur
Sage Allen
as Game Show Contestant
Beth Black
as Soap Opera Woman
Scott S. Bullock
as Daniel's Father
Gary Beach
as Car Salesman
Dennis Germain
as Tram Driver
James Paradise
as Stage Manager
Leonard Turner
as Sam
Maxine Hicks
as Woman on bus
Barbara Claman
Susan Walters
as Daniel's Wife
Clarke Coleman
as Knight
Carol Bivins
as Daniel's Mother
Eric Ehasz
as Child in Schoolyard
Jennifer Barlow
as Talk Show Guest
Lillian Lehman
as Daniel's Judge
Arell Blanton
as Fire Marshall
Roger Behr
as Comedian
Tim Winters
as Porter
Matthew Scharch
as Daniel as an Infant
Rachel Bard
as Julia's Judge
Sidney Chankin
as Used Car Salesman
Hal Landon, Jr.
as Man in Past Lives Pavilion
Bob Braun
as Talk Show Host
Alex Sheafe
as Martin
James Manis
as Eduardo
James Ekim
as Native
Ken Thorley
as Frank
Mary Mukogawa
as Sushi Hostess
Peter Schuck
as Stan
Sharlie Stuart
as Susan
Wil Albert
as Game Show Contestant
Greg Finley
as Used Car Salesman
Raffi Di Blasio
as Daniel as a Boy
David Purdham
as Peter
James Eckhouse
as Jeep Owner
Kagko Shikami
as Sushi Chef
Mark Saks
Nurit Koppel
as Daniel's Date
Shana Ballard
as Julia's Daughter
Vernon Roguen
as Tram Port Attendant
George D. Wallace
as Daniel's Judge
Kristopher Kent Hill
as Bully
Cliff Einstein
as Julia's Prosecutor
Ida Lee
as Woman in Past Lives Pavilion
Julie Cobb
as Tram Guide
Mark Dunlap
as Tram Port Attendant
Noley Thornton
as Victorian Girl
Samee Park
as Sushi Chef
Toshio Shikami
as Head Sushi Chef
Mary Pat Gleason
as Waitress
James MacKrell
as Game Show Moderator
Clayton Norcross
as Soap Opera Man
Glen Chin
as Sumo Wrestler


Albert Brooks
Michael Grillo
Albert Brooks
Allen Daviau
Michael Gore
Composer (Music Score)
David Finfer
Ida Random
Production Designer
Richard Reynolds
Art Director
Robert Grand
Herb Nanas
Executive Producer
Linda de Scenna
Set Designer
Deborah L. Scott
Costume Designer
Thomas D. Causey
Sound/Sound Designer