Defending Your Life

Not all of us are built for fireworks: they’re loud, they’re gaudy, and they encourage people to recklessly look at the sky. Sometimes you just want to tune out all the flashy explosions and savory barbecues of a big holiday weekend, and tuck into a well-crafted comedy about the failings of the human animal instead. Few directors of the 20th century tapped into or poked fun at those modern anxieties as well as Albert Brooks—an opinion you can now confirm for yourself, thanks to Netflix. The streaming service has announced that it’s acquired the streaming rights to all seven films directed by the celebrated comic and Simpsons guest star, and that they’ll all be available in its library starting tomorrow.

And while the quality of Brooks’ output has undeniably diminished as the years have progressed—don’t skip a pool party to watch The Muse or Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World—the power of his earlier films is undeniable. From the well-realized emotional quagmires of Modern Romance or Lost In America to the reality TV-presaging Real Life or the feel-good afterlife adventure of Defending Your Life, Brooks’ sarcastic, neurotic tone and eye for self-obsession are the perfect antidote for yet another summer day spent barely tolerating your family, the heat, and, worst of all, yourself. (Let Brooks’ menagerie of eccentric, self-played failures do that stuff for you instead.)