Trading Places (1983)

Comedy
Denholm Elliott, Dan Aykroyd, Maurice Woods, Richard D. Fisher Jr.
A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.
Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.
  • Paramount Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 08 Jun 1983 Released:
  • 24 Sep 2002 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod Writer:
  • John Landis Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Trailer:

Murphy and Aykroyd at their best7/10
Could this movie honestly have been any more funny? I saw it again, as I have repeatedly for years, and still laughed. My new son had never seen it before and liked it as well. Murphy was at the top of his game back then and Aykroyd is the perfect snob-class elitist. Some of these jokes are so timeless that I still refer to them from time-to-time and they STILL get laughs, both from people who have and haven't seen this film.

Yes, the jokes are a bit dated and somewhat slapstick, but this was a sign of the times. Most 80s comedies were full of slapstick moments. Jamie Lee Curtis was at the height of her sexy image and I'd forgotten how well she'd played her role. The late Don Ameche is so animated that it played perfectly into the mood of the film.

You can find this film in the bargain bin of most stores these days. I saw it for sale for only $5.50. It's worth owning.
Great Early Vehicle for Eddie Murphy5/10
This is probably one of the funniest films of the 1980's. It not only is a play on the classic nature vs. nurture theme, but it is also a somewhat comedic commentary on the "greed is good" decade of the 80's. However, it is also a nice bridging of the generations as it features two of the biggest stars to come from "Saturday Night Live" Eddie Murphy does a fine job as con man Billy Ray and Dan Ackroyd is great as Louis. Jamie Lee Curtis is also wonderful as Ophelia. In fact, it was good to see her do something other than the "scream queen" roles which she became famous for during the early part of her career. She definitely shows the comedic timing that she would display later in her career and would make her one of the finest comedic actresses in film today. However, the one that really steals it for me is Denholm Elliot as Coleman. He delivers a very low key performance that is befitting for that role. This is a real gem.
Ahmwoonanawoonanawoonana-huh!10/10
Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper has seen many incarnations from Disney to The Simpsons. But none have been as cruel (and funny) and John Landis' Trading Places, which proves just how funny Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy used to be.

Louise Winthorpe III is a spoiled, snobby managing director at the Duke & Duke commodities brokerage. Billy Ray Valentine is a poverty-stricken street hustler. Randolph Duke makes a wager with his brother Mortimer that the men can be successfully swapped . The con is on as Valentine is plucked from the streets and Winthorpe is ungraciously dumped on them. There's loads of fun watching him hit absolute rock bottom while Valentine quickly becomes spoiled and snobby himself.

Jamie Lee Curtis is the hugely-boobed hooker with a heart of gold who takes Winthorpe in while the always brilliant Denholm Elliott is Coleman, the unwilling butler caught up in the Dukes' evil plan. Once all four unravel the scam they team-up to destroy the Dukes.

Trading Places is crammed full of hilarious scenes, great dialogue, and funny cameos. Who cannot resist Eddie Murphy's foreign exchange student disguise or Ackroyd's Lionel Josef. Even the gorilla in the train is a brilliant character.

For those of you who love dark, cruel comedies Trading Places is utterly essential. It may be very 80s, but it never gets old. It's a must see and must have.
Hugely funny film - Eddie Murphy's finest moment10/10

Right from the opening credits, this film shows quality. It stands above other comedies due to the lack of filler material - every line is memorable. The cast is great; the two leads make the most of their characters (both as brokers and bums) but never overstep the mark, thanks partly to the tight editing. The plot becomes a little bizarre, but by that time you're already hooked, and the ending of the film is pure joy. To my mind, no recent comedy has been this good; it mixes high and low brow jokes without resorting to toilet humour, it doesn't pull any punches (spot the social commentary), the performances are masterful and the script achieves depth without sacrificing the one-liners or slowing the pace.
Hilarious... best movie either Ackroyd or Murphy have done.10/10
I skimmed over the comments to this movie and was heartened to see that so many people love it like I do. It just doesn't seem to be considered by the mainstream to be in the same league as, say, "Beverly Hills Cop" or "Coming to America" when talking about Eddie Murphy's movies, but the fact is that this is hands down his funniest part ever. And Dan Ackroyd is equally hilarious as the (at first) repulsively elitist Louis Winthorpe III. Add the stellar supporting cast, particularly Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the Dukes, Paul Gleason as the slimy Clarence Beeks, Jamie Lee Curtis as Ophelia, your standard hooker with a heart of gold (rarely done as well as here), and Denholm Elliott as Coleman the butler, and you hit a rich vein of comedy gold.

The plot is a classic farce situation. The Duke brothers, who clearly feel they are above everybody else, make a bet, for one dollar, over whether anybody regardless of breeding can, in the right environment, become an upper-crust gentleman. So as an experiment to see which one is right, they work circumstances so that the rich Louis Winthorpe III is turned into a miserly bum, while they have Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) take his place. He takes over Louis's job, his house, and his standing in the community. Realistic? Well, no, not really, but this is a farce, so it doesn't really have to be. It is, however, hilarious, which is exactly what a farce should be.

If there's a running theme in this movie, it is duplicity and mistaken identity. People are constantly being mistaken for something they are not, or forced into a situation where they become something they are not. We see this happen not only with the two main characters in the basic plot, but also with Billy Ray pretending to be a Vietnam veteran, then a karate master; Louis, who despite all appearances as a wimp, claims to have stood up to Billy Ray during their earliest encounter in the movie, when he actually hands Billy Ray his suitcase, setting him up for an arrest, when he was not actually trying to steal anything; Ophelia, who for a price pretends to know Louis outside the police station, further besmirching his name; all three plus Coleman, who each dresses up as a different hilarious ethnic character to trick Clarence Beeks; and Beeks, who in a subsequent scene is mistaken for an actual gorilla because he's wearing a costume (Al Franken and Tom Davis as the baggage handlers, marveling over how human the "gorilla" appears, are priceless).

Eventually, Billy Ray finds out what is going on, and gets together with Louis to turn the tables on the Dukes. Ophelia (who has fallen for Louis) and Coleman (who feels guilty and used over his part in the whole ruse) help them out. Do they get their revenge? Watch the movie and find out. It will be well worth your while. This is easily the funniest movie either Ackroyd or Murphy have ever done (its only real competition in this regard is "The Blues Brothers") and to think this was originally meant as a vehicle for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor is odd, because it's hard to imagine either of them in the parts done so well by Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy. John Landis keeps the pace going at a nice fast speed, and being a native Philadelphian, the locales and opening montage (including a scene of the Rocky statue) are a kick. But of course you'll love this movie even if you're not from Philly.