Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Defending Your Life

US movie (1991). Geffen/ Warner. Pr Michael Grillo. Exec pr Herb Nanas. Dir Albert Brooks. Screenplay Brooks. Starring Brooks (Dan), Lee Grant (Lena Foster), Meryl Streep (Julia), Rip Torn (Bob Diamond). 111 mins. Colour.

Ad executive Dan, killed in a car crash, finds himself in the Afterlife: Judgment City is like a resort comprised solely of luxury hotels. Here Souls are judged in a form of court hearing to find if they have conquered their fears and can move on to a higher plane; if not, they face a further Reincarnation on Earth. Dan eventually admits his life was one of pusillanimity and evasion, and looks set to graduate; but on his last night in Judgment City he declines to bed fellow-soul Julia for fear of blowing his chances, and the prosecutor pounces on this new proof of his frailty . . .

This Posthumous Fantasy, vacillating between comedy and Satire, has its longueurs, but its view of the afterlife as a place of Holiday Inns and Californian tourist attractions, among which adversarial psychoanalysts construct rival interpretations of a soul's prior actions, has refreshing plausibility. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.