Brooks, Los Angeles' Woody Allen, has in "Defending Your Life" one of his most thought-provoking and unique concepts. Driven by strong ideals, a clear vision and solid performances, the film fails, however, to reach the quality of some of the filmmaker's best endeavors. There's a thinness to an otherwise complex subject and despite a plot that moves briskly, too many scenes lag and a lot of jokes don't land.
A pleasant film, but ultimately nothing all that substantial. Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep have some nice chemistry, and Rip Torn is fun. But it's light on real big laughs, never quite sharp or clever enough to rise above the merely amusing. Entertaining enough, but not all that memorable.
This has been a sentimental favorite of mine for a long while, feels like several lifetimes at this point. Albert Brooks gives us a gently satirical look at a bureaucratic, suburban strip mall purgatory where one must defend how courageously they lived. Not as cutting as some of Brook's earlier comedies, but no less incisive and witty. Streep and Brooks have chemistry. The ending is superb and emotionally gratifying.
"Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything - real feelings, true happiness, real joy. They can't get through that fog. But you lift it, and buddy, you're in for the ride of your life"
Sorry, but the idea of some jerks holding a trial in which you and your life are judged based on some arbitrary idea of how "fearless" you "should have been" seems a little bit fascist to me. Also, on a different note, what was with all the blatant racial stereotypes in this movie? It was kind of offensive.