Defending Your Life
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Time Out saysAlthough gentle and sentimental, Brooks' satire is better by far than most Hollywood movies about the afterlife. As LA advertising man Daniel, killed in a car crash, Brooks brings his familiar neuroses to bear on a pristine purgatory where self-acceptance, as opposed to goodness, determines one's progress through infinity. Nervy and self-centred, Daniel is clearly ill-qualified for promotion to a higher plane, but with help from brave, becalmed Julia (Streep) and his celestial advocate (Torn), he might just make it through the official review of his sojourn on earth to emerge as something more than a lowly amphibian. Much of the comedy centres around life in Judgement City, where American obsessions are indulged to a utopian degree; if there's something a tad New Age about the emphasis on feeling good, at least that ol' time religion is mercifully absent, while the satire hits target more often than not. The film is finally too soft, but the performances are uniformly strong, the humour intelligently adult, and Brooks once again proves a pleasing alternative to Woody Allen.