Sunday, April 3, 2011

Defending Your Life - 1991

Defending Your Life
Stars - Albert Brooks
          Meryl Streep
          Rip Torn
Directed by: Albert Brooks
Summary: In an afterlife resembling the present-day US, people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage.
In honor of the vaulted genius that is Albert Brooks joining Twitter, @AlbertBrooks, I decided to start today with a look at one of my all time favorites, Defending Your Life.
When people talk about comedy at the movies, they tend think of only the slapsticky, no room for subtlety, Farrelly Brothers/Zucker type of comedy (not that there's anything wrong with that) but it excludes some truly funny and insightful films for true film fans. Luckily, Albert Brooks is here to save the day. There is enough broad comedy in Defending Your Life to satisfy based comedy desires with a smattering of deeper, think about it for 30 seconds and laugh your ass off jokes too. 
What Brooks does so well is to work the everyman, bumbling through life with a modicum of dignity characters. It's no exception here. Newly dead Daniel Miller must navigate his way through the afterlife and defend his existence on Earth to determine if he is worthy of moving on. To this end, his attorney, the wonderful Rip Torn, and he must review moments of his life to show that he has overcome his fears. In the midst of all this, Miller meets and instantly connects with Julia (Streep at her charming best) and must face the possibility of being sent back and losing the love of his afterlife. 
The jokes don't come fast and furious, but they do come, and well. And, for being released in 1991, it still holds up and seems as fresh as ever. I try to watch this movie at least once a year, and find myself quoting it from time to time as well.
So, do yourself a favor and check this out if you haven't already. And if you haven't, take a few moments to feel appropriately ashamed, beg for forgiveness, and head over to Netflix and rectify this situation. And while you're at it, click the link for his book and toss the guy a few shekels, he's a living legend for heavens sake.

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