Parents' Guide to

Defending Your Life

By Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Priceless comedy with a message-rich heart, mild swearing.

Movie PG 1991 111 minutes
Defending Your Life Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

Underrated comedy gem with humor that kids won't understand

Aside from his voice work in the Finding Nemo movies kids are not likely to understand the humor of comedic actor and filmmaker Albert Brooks who in his live action roles is often compared to a "West Coast Woody Allen." So parents can rest assured your children will probably be bored by this film and not understand the humor, so you don't really need to worry about them while watching it. For adults this film does have some crude jokes about sex, penis size, and testicles. There are several profanities "s--t" is said three times and intermittent "hells and "damns" mainly from the late Rip Torn who gives a fantastic supporting performance here. There is also a reference to the main character sleeping with a woman as a test of trust vs. fear, and he doesn't sleep with her becasue he is worried he might get an STD. In another scene a man makes references to strip clubs, and in a flashback sequence a kid is bullies and humiliated by being beat up and is unable to defend himself. The scene is not very violent but will be upsetting to those who had a previous history with being bullied. There is also one reference to the main character getting "stoned" in college. The language and mild violence here is pretty tame and within PG limits, but there are some intense scenes as well as crude sexual humor and references that I feel this movie nowadays would be a PG-13. I don't think anyone under the age of 15 will enjoy or appreciate this film or understand the genius of it, nor its wonderful message about believing in yourself and the great benefits of confidence and overcoming your fears but it is fine for older teens and adults. The story may also be confusing for teens to follow.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Watch this ingenious comic gem for the laughs and romance, then let its inspiring, joyful wisdom cast its spell. Albert Brooks has constructed and delivered what may be a perfect combination of humor and commentary on the human condition. Five-star writing, performances, and direction serve the story and the message. Comic highlights include a visit to the "Past Lives Pavilion"; sumptuous, all-you-can-eat festivals of food; and Brooks' canny ability to portray the self-absorbed loser's magnificent awakening. Defending Your Life is an unforgettable movie that gets better with repeat viewings. Great for teens mature enough to get Brooks' premise: that life is at its best when lived bravely, generously, and with gratitude.

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