Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Defending Your Life" 1991

“Defending Your Life”

Albert Brooks is great. He is hilarious and self deprecating. In “Defending Your Life” he presents a view of the afterlife that is fun and interesting.

Daniel Miller is in advertising. On his birthday he gets some presents at work and then goes to pick up a new car. He is feeling on top of the world as he puts a new cd into the sound system and starts driving home. One distracted moment later he is head on with a city bus and then it’s all over.
Soon he is in Judgment City. It looks a lot like Earth. He is brought to a hotel in a state of shock.

Soon he starts to learn all about the process of defending his life and the food from his defender, Bob Diamond play hilariously by Rip Torn.

Daniel Miller: Is this Heaven?
Bob Diamond: No, it isn't Heaven.
Daniel Miller: Is it Hell?
Bob Diamond: Nope, it isn't Hell either. Actually, there is no Hell. Although I hear Los Angeles is getting pretty close.

Steven is curious and has a tough time wrapping his head around all the surprises of Judgment City.
[Daniel and Bob are at a garden restaurant; Daniel is enjoying a chicken lunch platter]
Bob Diamond: We have about 400,000 residents here. We service half of the United States dead. That's about 2,500 people a day.
Daniel Miller: Do children come here?
Bob Diamond: Children don't have to defend themselves. When a child is taken, they automatically move forward. Isn't that nice?
Daniel Miller: What about teenagers?
Bob Diamond: Too much trouble. They go elsewhere. We tried for a while, but they damage the tupas. Too rowdy. What about your chicken? How do you like it?
Daniel Miller: Oh, delicious!
Bob Diamond: Yeah.
[Bob is eating a meatloaf-like substance]
Bob Diamond: Mmm!
Daniel Miller: [curious] What are you eating?
Bob Diamond: You wouldn't like this. Ha-ha-ha.
Daniel Miller: What is it? What's it taste like?
Bob Diamond: You're curious, aren't ya? Good. I like that about you. You wanna try?
Daniel Miller: Yeah. It looks so weird.
[Daniel tries the substance, but has a terrible taste; Daniel gags and chokes; Bob laughs]
Daniel Miller: Oh, my God!
Bob Diamond: A little like horse$hit, huh?
[Daniel nods as he spits it out]
Bob Diamond: As you get smarter, you begin to manipulate your senses. This tastes much different to me than it is to you.
Daniel Miller: Eww! This is what smart people eat?

Steven soon discovers that they will look at nine days of his life and determine if he is ready to move to the next level of existence. If he lived without fear he will make it. If not, he has to go back to earth and give it another try. But Steven had a lot of fears. He also has a defender and prosecutor that don’t care for each other.

On his first night he heads to a comedy club and meets Julia, played by Meryl Streep. Meryl should really do more comedy. She is great. She is funny and slightly goofy.

In Judgment City you can eat as much as you want and never feel sick. Julia loves it. Steven can’t quite wrap his head around it.
Eduardo: You gonna eat a lot with us tonight, now?
Julia: What do you recommend, Eduardo?
Eduardo: You like pasta?
Julia: Very much.
Eduardo: I gonna bring you three pounds of it, the best you ever tasted. You gonna love it.
Eduardo: [to Daniel] What about you, my friend? You like, eh, shrimp?
Daniel Miller: Um, yeah.
Eduardo: We can make it so fresh they crawl up and put it in your plate themselves.
Daniel Miller: Aren't they high in cholesterol?
Eduardo: I don't know what you're talking about, but they high in everything. Don't worry about it.

There are so many great moments in this movie I could write pages just quoting the movie. There is Julia and Daniel’s visit to the Past Lives Pavilion with its introduction by Shirley MacLaine. I love Daniel’s trip to the sushi bar.

If this movie is on television, I will watch it. It is funny and sweet.

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