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''Defending Your Life'' is a past gem from Oscar nominee Meryl Streep

SCREEN GEM: Defending Your Life (1991)

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Meryl Streep, Albert Brooks, ...
Defending Your Life: Everett Collection

”Defending Your Life” is a past gem from Oscar nominee Meryl Streep

COSTARS Albert Brooks, Rip Torn, Lee Grant

PREMISE In this Brooks-directed satire, the afterlife proves no less bureaucratic than life on Earth. Streep and Brooks are a match made in purgatory: Her altruistic life means she’ll progress to a higher plane of existence; his angsty time on Earth makes him a likely candidate to be sent back for another go at it.

FUN FACT Universal Studios’ tramway buses stand in for Judgment City’s only means of transport.

WHY IT’S GREAT Like ”Adaptation,” ”Defending” displays Streep’s natural comic talents. It’s a joy to see her so relaxed, easygoing, and enchanting — no wonder Brooks falls for her.