Trading Places

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Nature vs. Nurture: Trading Places

Sep 11, 2005 (Updated Sep 11, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche

Cons:A bit predictable and outlandish

The Bottom Line: Trading Places is a great way to revisit the "decade of greed" and learn about insider trading. Great comic performance by Eddie Murphy!


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

Trading Places (1983)

“The best way to hurt rich people is to turn them into poor people.” Billy Ray Valentine

Trading Places has been recently released on a bargain DVD from Paramount. The movie shows an experiment by two very rich and immoral s#it heels, Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche, as to which determines behavior - breeding or environment. To test their ideas, the two turn the world upside down for a pair of guys played by Saturday Night Live alumni Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. Murphy is poor black Billy Ray Valentine and Aykroyd is pampered commodities trader Louis Winthorpe III.

Directed by John Landis (Animal House), the movie starts with an opening montage vividly underlining the contrast between rich and poor in the American northeast. The characters are introduced in short individual scenes, then Murphy, who has been rousted by the police for panhandling, bumps into Aykroyd, who assumes he is being robbed and surrenders his briefcase. Murphy is arrested and the two older men have a chance to try their experiment…

Using the assistance of an undercover employee and several corrupt cops and other individuals, the two old codgers frame Aykroyd, get him jailed, and fire him from their firm. He also loses his perks; his private club membership, his limousine, his bank account, and his trophy girlfriend. He is befriended by the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold in the person of the well-endowed Jamie Lee Curtis. When Aykroyd realizes that Murphy has his old job, he turns to crime, attempting to frame him for drugs and get back in the good graces of his erstwhile employers, to no avail.

A chance conversation overheard by Murphy reveals the “experiment” and he’s off to join forces with Aykroyd for revenge against Bellamy and Ameche.

Eddie Murphy (48 Hrs) is in fine form in his second feature film, while Dan Aykroyd (The Blues Brothers) is probably at his best in Trading Places. Ralph Bellamy (The Professionals) and Don Ameche (Alexander Graham Bell) are old school entertainers and probably haven’t got a bad performance between them that I’ve ever seen. Great support is provided by Denholm Elliot (Raiders of the Lost Ark) as the butler, and Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies) as the feminine interest for Aykroyd. Curtis shows off her assets several times, and I must say they are impressive.

Trading Places is a screwball comedy of the Frank Capra or Preston Sturges variety, updated for the 80s, with language and nudity that may preclude kiddies watching it. The story is one of the few that zeroes in on commodities trading - pork bellies and such - that last bastion of pure capitalism in the known universe. Set during Christmas, it has a few surprising takes on the holiday season, but for the most part the story is fairly predictable, with some developments that don’t necessarily happen in real life, but that’s why we go to the movies, isn’t it?

The Paramount DVD is of the bare bones variety and can be had for around $6.00. It clocks in at 116 minutes and is presented in color in 1.85:1 theatrical format. The video and audio are well preserved and there are absolutely no extras.

Adults will enjoy revisiting the 80s - the “decade of greed” - with Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, and company.

Another great film about the 80s is Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.

Thanks for reading!


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening

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