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When Can Being Killed by a Bus be a Good Thing?
Albert Brooks plays Daniel Miller, a man hit by a bus. The fatal accident lands him in Judgement City. There he is put on trial to see if he is worthy to advance to the next level or if he must return to earth for another incarnation. While there he meets the wonderful Julia (Meryl Streep) who is also on trial. Julia has lived an exemplary life while Brooks is subjected to watching his many shortcomings.
Rip Torn does a great job as Brooks' defense lawyer Bob Diamond and Lee Grant plays the prosecutor Lena Foster. But it is Brooks and Streep who carry this film. Brooks is at his best as his usual hyperchondriacish self. And, Streep is very sweet as his love-interest.
Will Brooks get to stay with Streep? What criteria is Brooks ultimately judged on and what can he do to gain salvation? Watch Defending Your Life for the answers and for a spiritual journey with a lot of laughs.
What is spiritual about this movie? I like the notion that redemption is just around the corner if you are only willing to take a chance at it - in the case of this movie that payoff comes at the very end - a lesson well-learned by Brooks' character. There is also the uncommon spiritual notion that life doesn't have to be some solemn austere enterprise but should be for the living. To that end, Brooks is given kudos for upgrading his ticket on a long flight to first class.
Essentially, life is for the living, so live it - cause, hey, like Daniel Miller, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Along the way though you may want to help some folks, do some charity work, and love others cause if you end up landing in Judgement City watching a movie review of your life you'll want to be able to enjoy it...
Defending Your Life makes getting hit by a bus a pleasurable experience – provided you're not the one taking the hit.
Bob Diamond: Did we ever stop to think that this young boy had a bond with his father? I don't think it had anything to do with the friend. I just think Daniel couldn't lie to his dad. That's all.
Lena Foster: You're nodding, Mr. Miller. Does that mean you agree with Mr. Diamond?
Daniel Miller: Oh, yes. I had a bond with my father. I pretty much never lied to him.
Lena Foster: You never lied to your father? Would you like me to show you at least 500 examples?
Daniel Miller: I said "pretty much" never lied. I didn't say I never, ever lied. You have to lie sometimes... in an emergency. But, ah, it doesn't mean the bond is affected. If you've got the bond the bond is always there, and if you have to lie occasionally you're not going to interfere with the bond. You know, the bond can wait for a little lie and... in the end it's there for you. You know, sometimes in the middle of a lie I found that the bond would kick in... maybe squeeze a little truth out.
Bob Diamond: Psst, wrap it up.
Daniel Miller: I'm through.
This article was posted on September 27, 2005