After a bus comes between him and his brand-new cherry BMW, ad exec Albert Brooks gets shuttled off to the mall-like Judgment City — not your everyday conception of purgatory but an appropriate one if you’re from L.A. There, while the heavenly review board decides if he was brave enough in life to warrant ”moving on,” he falls for the similarly dead Meryl Streep, who can do a fair representation of a real person when she’s not determined to Act. The main failure of courage, ironically, belongs to writer-director Brooks, who here offers the touchy-feely inanities he jibes so pointedly in films like Lost in America. Still, Defending Your Life‘s death at the box office had more to do with the fact that Brooks works the other side of the manic explosions of our most popular comics: His humor is reactive but no less funny. If you can reverse your expectations, this may find deserved afterlife on your TV. B

Defending Your Life
  • Movie
  • 112 minutes