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


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