Defending Your Life

1991 PG 1h 52m DVD

Defending Your Life

1991 PG 1h 52m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
After Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) crashes his BMW convertible into a bus, he's transported to "Judgment City," where he meets the love of his life, Julia (Meryl Streep). Unfortunately, Daniel needs to defend his life on Earth before he can ascend to heaven with Julia. He frantically attempts to explain the positive things he's accomplished, but soon realizes that Julia may be too good for him.
Albert Brooks, Michael Durrell, James Eckhouse, Gary Beach, Julie Cobb, Peter Schuck, Time Winters, Lee Grant, Rip Torn, Sharlie Stuart, Meryl Streep, Buck Henry, Shirley MacLaine
Albert Brooks
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
PG - Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give parental guidance. May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.
age 13+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 13+
age 13+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that Defending Your Life is a comedy-romance set in Judgment City, a short-term way station for the recently deceased. During each subject's stopover visit, he or she will be vetted and judged to determine whether or not they will "move forward" or be sent back to Earth to try again. It's all a matter of how "well" each person lived his or her most recent life. It's not a religious movie and has no religious content, but it is a fantasy about an afterlife. A few scenes include conflict or action (spoiler alert): Our hero dies in a car-bus accident (off camera), a very young child watches his parents argue bitterly, a school bully intimidates and fights, there's a snowboard accident, and there's a daring rescue during a home fire. There are a few sexual references (an all-nude strip club, adult books) and some mild innuendo and jokes ("I had sex with Ben Franklin"), and a couple discusses staying overnight together. Profanity includes "horses--t" and "balls." Expect social drinking in a few scenes, a reference to "getting stoned" in the past, and one mention of heroin. Because the comedy is based on real human experience, it's as relevant today as it was when it was made in 1991. Messages are life-affirming and strong and delivered with humor and insight. Best for teens and great for families with older kids to watch together.

Sexual Content

A couple discusses whether or not to spend the night together. A few sexual references ("had sex," "all nude," "better than sex," a strip club, adult books). A couple kisses several times.


A bus and car appear to have a head-on collision (offscreen). Though we never see the aftermath of the accident, the driver has been killed, and his post-death experience is the core of the movie's plot. All other action scenes are in flashback: childhood bullying, a brief tussle between classmates, and parents arguing spitefully. A man crashes a snowmobile, rolls. A home is on fire, and a mother runs in to rescue a pet.


Occasional profanity: "horses--t," "hell," "butt," "piss," "balls," "fart," "penis envy," "damn."

Social Behavior

Live a life of bravery. Promotes courage, integrity, selflessness, and a willingness to risk and experience life to the fullest. Strongly discourages decision-making and behavior based on fear, shame, or embarrassment.


A BMW automobile is featured. Other products mentioned: Casio watch, Ford.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Wine, sake are consumed in social settings. Reference to a character being "stoned" in the past. Heroin mentioned.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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