Defending Your Life (1991)

Cover of "Defending Your Life"
Cover of Defending Your Life

Once, Albert Brooks was the ultimate everyman schlemiel; here that schlemiel dies, and he’s uncomfortable even in the afterlife. This is a date movie? Well, he meets Meryl Streep, the only other recently deceased person under seventy, and as they each attend hearings before a purgatorial tribunal to examine their lives and determine if they have exhibited enough courage to “move forward” (think of it as Beverly Hills Buddhism), they fall in love, even though there’s no hope that they can ever be together. This is an especially appropriate film for nascent relationships—it’s funny but not raunchy, cute but not sticky. It’s probably best to plan for a dinner afterward; one of the clear benefits of spending time in Judgment City (which looks remarkably like Southern California) is that you can eat as much as you want and never gain weight, so there’s plenty of moaning over mounds of shrimp and piles of pasta.


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