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|Index||165 reviews in total|
In Philadelphia, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) is a successful
commodity broker of the Duke & Duke, owned by the cheap millionaires
Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and his brother Mortimer (Don Ameche) Duke.
Louis, who was graduated in Harvard, has an upper class lifestyle,
living in a mansion with the butler Coleman (Denholm Elliott), who also
drives his Mercedes Benz, and is engaged of the wealthy Penelope
Witherspoon (Kristin Holby). After an incident in the sophisticated
Heritage Club with the homeless beggar Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie
Murphy), Randolph defends that the situations of Louis and Billy Ray
were caused by the environment where each man lives while Mortimer
defends a genetic issue. They bet one dollar and decide to force Louis
and Billy Ray to switch places: they frame Louis, planting drugs and a
theft in his pocket, and he is arrested and loses his job, house, car,
savings and credit cards; and they invite Billy Ray for the position of
Louis. The desperate Louis meets the golden hearted whore Ophelia
(Jamie Lee Curtis), who lodges him at her house and helps him. When
Billy Ray overhears the Duke Brothers discussing their bet in the
bathroom, he seeks out Louis and together they plot their revenge.
"Trading Places" is certainly one of the best comedies of the 80's. Eddie Murphy in the beginning of his career was extremely funny and together with Dan Aykroyd, they are hilarious; the veterans Denholm Elliott, Don Ameche and Denholm Elliott are amazing; and Jamie Lee Curtis extremely sexy. I have just watched this movie again now on the DVD released by Paramount Pictures in Brazil (Special Edition for Collector) that shamefully does not have subtitles in Portuguese. I can read and understand English, but most of the Brazilian population does not. Therefore it is a complete lack of respect from this major distributor. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Trocando as Bolas"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just another Eddie Murphy movie is a good way to describe Trading
Places which was released in 1983. The film was directed by John Landis
who also directed The Blues Brothers and Animal House as well as Coming
to America which was made after Trading Places and shared a few funny
connections with the older movie. The supporting cast included actors
such as Dan Aykroyd, a stuck up investor prodigy, Louis Winthorpe III;
Ralph Bellany and Dan Ameche who were the rich and powerful Duke
brothers; Jamie Lee Curtis as a prostitute named Ophelia; and James
Belushi who played a small but enjoyable role.
The comedy is based on a bet between the Duke brothers who disagree as to whether the circumstances in which a person lives can shape who they are and how they act. Eddie Murphy, a broke con artist living on the streets named Billy Rae Valentine, happens to stumble across the brothers and Louis Winthorpe, who works for the Dukes. The two brothers then destroy Louis' life and give everything he owns to Billy hence the title Trading Places.
Although the plot may seem somewhat dark considering a man's life is destroyed so two old men can make a bet, it is still a comedy at heart and Landis did a good job of keeping the film mostly upbeat for his audience. It still contains some sad scenes and a few racist comments, but he always picks the viewers back up shortly afterward with the help of Eddie Murphy and some other lesser characters including the old and mistreated butler, Coleman, who would love to see the men who boss him around every day out in the streets.
In order to keep this upbeat attitude throughout the film however, Landis made the movie a little ridiculous at times. Especially when Billy Valentine turns out to be a wizard investor within the first day of working at the company and when Winthorpe goes a little psychotic not long after losing his job in a scene that involves a Santa costume, stolen salmon, a gun, and lots of drugs. But if you put the ridiculousness aside, which really wasn't a bad thing in the first place, you have a funny, and rather enjoyable film.
Throughout the film you witness Billy and Louis' journey in different shoes and of course they eventually realize what happened to the two of them and decide that they are not the Duke brother's play things. Although it can sometimes be predictable, I doubt the movie was intended to stump its audience. It flows well and throws just enough wrenches into the plot to keep its audience interested and pleased. Of course the cast is a big factor in pleasing the audience and they do a great job of portraying the personalities of their characters in an enjoyable and sometimes surprising way (Jamie Lee Curtis nude scene).
If you watch this movie expecting a moving piece about the question of nature vs. nurture and the struggles of men facing adversity in the real world, you will not be satisfied; however, if you are in the mood for a classic, good natured comedy and some old school Eddie Murphy then this is your film. I would not suggest this film for children but more for the older teens and adults. It's a movie you won't regret seeing and it's on Netflix so basically free considering just about everyone either has Netflix or has a friend that does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following his hit big-screen debut in 48 Hours, Eddie Murphy followed
it up with another terrific comedy turn in Trading Places. Murphy is
matched all the way by Dan Akroyd, Denholm Elliott, Ralph Bellamy and
Don Ameche in this light-hearted financial caper, all of them breathing
life and wit into a plot that has been done many times before. In fact,
apart from the periodic nudity and foul language, Trading Places comes
over as a very old-fashioned comedy story.
Ultra-rich businessmen Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche) run a successful firm in Philadelphia, buying and selling their way to ever-increasing wealth. One of their best employees is business executive Louis Winthorp III (Dan Akroyd), a pampered brat who lives in a huge house and has his every need tended to by his faithful butler Coleman (Denholm Elliott). The Duke brothers disagree that Winthorp's success is the result of good breeding and education. Randolph believes that Winthorp was born into an easy life and that anyone - even a lowlife from the streets - could do his job if given the chance. Mortimer is adamant that a lowlife would fail in the world of big business and etiquette, and that Winthorp would still find a way to succeed in life if he were cast out on the streets. The brothers place a one-dollar wager against each other to determine who is right. Via a series of engineered lies, Winthorp loses his job, his house, his fiancée, his butler and his reputation. Then, foul-mouthed street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) is plucked from the gutter and put in Winthorp's place. Winthorp struggles to adapt to his new-found poverty, while Valentine proves a surprisingly perceptive and effective financier. But when Valentine discovers that the whole thing is just a wager - and that the Dukes eventually plan to fire him from their firm - he tracks down Winthorp, and together they plan an audacious sting on the scheming brothers, aided by Coleman the butler and Winthorp's new girlfriend, street-wise hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Trading Places is, in many ways, a 20th Century variation of the story of The Prince And The Pauper. The comic dialogue is expertly handled, and the casting is just genius. Who would have thought that old veterans like Bellamy, Ameche and Elliott would be able to bounce off a volatile, foul-mouthed fast-talker like Murphy to such brilliant effect? That's not to say the film is perfect. Others have pointed out, correctly, that the wit runs dry about two-thirds of the way in and the film becomes more caperish. The final third deals with the revenge plotted by Murphy and Akroyd against the Duke brothers - while it has some passable silliness (check out those stupid disguises they wear during the train journey to New York), it is all rather plot-heavy and seems disappointingly similar to those caper movies that were all the rage in the '70s (eg The Sting, Bank Shot, The Hot Rock, Silver Bears, etc.). Still, on the whole Trading Places is a lot of fun and, at least for two-thirds of the way, it is a comedy of real quality!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One year before he famously became Ray Spengler in "Ghostbusters", Dan Ackroyd was superb in this film from 1983. Teaming up with comedian Eddie Murphy, Ackroyd was brilliant as the stock trader who's life is ruined by two arrogant businessmen's bets.
Louis Winthorpe III (Ackroyd) works for the major Duke Corporation. Earning money for arrogant brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche), Winthorpe is thrown on the street when his bosses conduct a social experiment. Replaced by Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy), Winthorpe's life slowly collapses in on itself. Eventually with the help of Valentine and prostitute Ophelia (a young, occasionally topless, Jamie Lee Curtis), Winthorpe goes out on revenge.
With a film style which is typically 80's, "Trading Places" could so easily be cast aside like the majority of comedy from the decade. As an exception however, the story is a fun, lighthearted escapade with a stunning cast.
As the downward spiralling Winthorpe, Ackroyd gives perhaps his finest comedy performance, most notably shoving a huge cooked fish inside his Santa Claus outfit.
Eddie Murphy, as Ackroyd's contrasting number is great as a former bum who develops an obsession with keeping his house clean and who finds it hard to cope with his new found wealth.
In terms of supporting cast, Jamie Lee Curtis produces a decent performance as Ackroyd's love interest, although she never outperforms her role as Wanda in "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988). In contrast, deceased actors Denholm Elliot, Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy are great in their respective roles, whether loyal butler or cruel millionaire.
All in all, with a superb cast and the typical 80's comedy element, "Trading Places" is a great film. What makes it different from other 80's comedies ("Weekend At Bernies" for example) is that whilst others grow tiresome and old, this film is always a pleasure to watch. Whether for the first time or for the hundredth time, "Trading Places" is always a guaranteed laugh and a true feel good movie.
Murphy and Aykroyd work well off each other. They both know how to deliver the punchlines. Supporting cast helps bring the comedy to fruition. Delightful performances by veterans Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy knowing how to work with todays young talent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke are the wealthy owners of a
Philadelphia-based commodity dealership. They make a bet with one
another that they can switch the lives of two people, a successful
commodities broker with their firm and a homeless beggar. They arrange
for the broker, Louis (pronounced "Lewis", not "Louie") Winthorpe III,
to be fired from his job, evicted from his luxurious home and arrested
on trumped-up charges of theft and drug-dealing. They then approach the
beggar, Billy Ray Valentine, and offer him not only Winthorpe's job but
also his house. Winthorpe is reduced to despair by this sudden
crumbling of his world, but Billy Ray proves an unexpected success in
his new role, as though his life on the streets has given him an
instinctive understanding of the economic facts of life. When Billy Ray
and Winthorpe (who has been befriended by a prostitute named Ophelia)
discover the trick that has been played on them, they combine to seek
revenge on the Dukes.
Film critics like Roger Ebert and Janet Maslin compared "Trading Places" to the comedies of earlier directors such as Frank Capra and Preston Sturges, and it reminded me of the screwball comedies of the thirties and forties. Of course, if it had been made during that period it would have been very different. Billy Ray would almost certainly have been white; here he is black. On the other hand Winthorpe's butler Coleman, who here is white, might have been black, as domestic servants were one of the few types of role exempt from Hollywood's unofficial colour-bar. Ophelia would probably have been a poor-but-honest working-class girl rather than a hooker. And in the days of the Production Code there would have been no toplessness, no sex references and none of the bad language with which the film is liberally sprinkled.
Thinking how the film might have been made in the past also made think of how it might be remade today. Today, of course, there would be no objection to casting a black star. Indeed, the film-makers might even be daring enough to make Winthorpe black and Billy Ray white. Although the colour-bar had gone in the sixties, in 1983 there was still a tendency to think of black actors in terms of working-class roles. The idea of making a wealthy, aristocratic character black would probably have been a little too far outside the box for the eighties.
I suspect, however, that a lot of the sex and bad language would go. In 1983 the cinema was still suffering from a seventies hangover, and it was a defining principle of the Decade that Taste Forgot that film- makers were under a solemn duty to show just how hip, trendy and "adult" they were by breaking as many taboos as they thought they could get away with. Today this attitude is not as prevalent as it once was- gratuitous bad language and sexual references often seem more adolescent than adult. "Trading Places", which is essentially about money, class and status, is not a sex comedy or a gross-out comedy, so a lot of the sex and profanity could safely be discarded. A modern remake would doubtless also dispense with all that eighties political incorrectness ("Of course there's something wrong with him. He's a Negro!").
In some respects, however, this is a very modern story. Its satire on greed and corruption among the super-rich leaders of the financial services industry is just as relevant to the post-Lehman Brothers world of the 2010s as it was to the "greed is good" eighties. Moreover, its satire is not just relevant to America. One thing that struck me was just how British the rich characters seem to be. The Duke brothers' surname was presumably deliberately chosen to suggest a link to the British aristocracy, and their country house is a self-conscious replica of an English stately home in the Tudor style, down to the stained-glass windows. Louis lives in the Philadelphia equivalent of a Georgian London townhouse and employs an English butler. His upper-class chums all wear English-style cricket sweaters, although none of them presumably play cricket. He even speaks with a quasi-British accent. (This is particularly noticeable with the short "o" in words like "job" which Louis is careful to pronounce in the rounded British manner; most Americans either flatten this vowel ("jaahb") or drawl it ("jawb").
The acting is of a generally high standard. Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy combine well as the two men whose lives are inadvertently swapped. Aykroyd's Louis is honest, good at his job, intelligent and well- educated, and yet he is a classic example of the man who is, paradoxically, limited by his very intelligence and education. He is quite unable to imagine what life might be those who did not go to Harvard and who do not have a job in high finance. Murphy's Billy Ray is, for all his petty dishonesty, a likable streetwise rogue who possesses hidden reserves of resourcefulness. There are also good contributions from Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche as the cynically avaricious Dukes, Denholm Elliott as Coleman and Jamie Lee Curtis, surprisingly sympathetic as the hardened hooker Ophelia.
In some respects, as detailed above, "Trading Places" can seem rather dated today. In others, however, it still stands up well as an amusing satirical comedy even thirty-odd years after it was made.
We just watched this film on Amazon Prime. I haven't seen it in 30
years. It was a real joy to see Eddie Murphy in prime comedic form. Dan
Aykroyd is fine, but this isn't a breakout for him compared to the
Ghostbusters series or The Blues Brothers. What I particularly liked
was the view of Philadelphia in the early 1980s, with its blue-collar
workers, unemployed people standing in the street doing little or just
warming their hands near a burning trash barrel, and the run down
neighborhoods. It was surprisingly reminiscent of post-2009 America in
Detroit or other hard-hit areas. A reminder that the more things
change, the more they stay the same.
As for the movie, it has the antic energy of a comedy from that era. Compare it to last summer's comedic hit, "Guardians of the Galaxy." The production values are vastly different and show what's happened in 30 years of filmmaking with the introduction of CGI. However the writing, the plot, and the acting are just as good if not better in the older film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A slyly funny comedy from producer John Landis. The very old and filthy-rich Duke Bros. (Bellamy and Ameche) make a dollar bet that down and out "Negro" con man Eddie Murphy can run their company as well as Dan Aykroyd, the "white" guy with all the snooty advantages. (Nature vs. nurture). Also starring almost "all" of Jamie Lee Curtis as the young and gorgeous "hooker with a heart of gold". Great social commentary as well as great writing plus an all-star cast make this a classic comedy from the 1980s. Eddie Murphy mugs the camera as always, playing pretty-much the same persona as he does in "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Shrek". He opens the movie by pretending to be "Porgy", blind and without legs, as a Viet Nam War Vet beggar. Only he could make this a funny situation. He fools no one including the cops on the beat. I don't like that bit about the gorilla. (Tasteless.) A bit long and crazy toward the end. Featuring: Several "topless" women, a very young "Franken & Davis", Jim Belushi in a gorilla costume, and Dan Aykroyd in blackface! Almost as good as an old "Frank Capra" production, but with a "twisted" attitude! It shows how foolish commodities trading really is! One of Eddie Murphy's and Dan Akroyd's funniest performances.
I didn't watch this when it came out, thinking it sounded lightweight,
with a totally improbable plot. I finally gave it a spin after hearing
it quoted on NPR, the part where the Dukes teach Commodities for
Kiddies to Eddie Murphy.
Look, this is a pretty dumb movie that splices together ideas from many different sources. The characters are cartoonish and the plot leaks like a sieve. Yet, out of it all comes something reasonably creative and entertaining.
In short, I enjoyed it. And I do not suffer foolish movies gladly.
Why did it work?
- Skilled comedic acting all around. We've got some early Saturday Night Live alumni, including a current U.S. Senator who actually did graduate from Harvard (who plays a really dumb baggage handler), and some genuine, seasoned actors in Don Ameche (who's previous film was with Jamie Lee's father), Ralph Bellamy and Denholm Elliott. I think the actors were having fun, and it rubs off on the audience.
- I actually cared about and liked the main characters: Akroyd, Murphy, Curtis, et al. - - this despite being highly unrealistic.
- Good pacing. The plot pulls you along fast enough that you never have time to think about how stupid it is (well, not too much).
More important, the film gets you to suspend disbelief early on. The opening scenes of Philadelphia are the most realistic part of the movie, and helped along with a loud dose of Mozart -- highly reminiscent of "Hopscotch."
At about 4 minutes in we meet Winthorpe and see him go to work. He is obnoxious, and Akroyd's acting is not realistic, but the movie isn't either, so he is setting the tone. In essence, Landis is telling the audience: This ain't Shakespeare, despite the Mozart. Take it or leave it. He is also setting the quality bar low, so it can only get better, and it does. Smart. (Akroyd's acting becomes more genuine later in the movie, and he did a fine job in Driving Miss Daisy).
Then at 6 minutes we meet the Duke brothers in their sprawling estate (filmed on Long Island) and the tone becomes that of a fable, a la Prince and the Pauper. At 9 minutes, Eddie Murphy does his Porgy thing pretending to be a lame beggar. The Dukes beat him with a briefcase, yet the absurdity of the acting brings a smile to your face. At 10 minutes, the Dukes enter their private club, and I'm hooked.
About 50 minutes in we feel like we're in a 1980s version of It's a Wonderful Life, as Winthorpe tries to go home and his butler pretends not to know him. There's something eternal in that theme.
We're dealing here with a particular genre that may be foreign to 21st century viewers: 1970s Saturday Night Live alumni, Animal House, Blues Brothers, etc. Blues Brothers is by far the strongest - a classic! So contemporary viewers had a sense of what to expect.
Yet Trading Places stands the test of time because we all (or most of us) like a nice story of revenge on mean, old rich people. Events in the news have only strengthened this theme. The ending is sweet.
The movie was at first destined to be a Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor
vehicle , but in the end we have Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd duo which
is even better. Both were almost at the peek of their careers in the
1983 (One year later Aykroyd made "Ghostbusters" and Murphy made
"Beverly Hills cop"). Aykroyd had the success of "Blues Brothers" ,
Murphy had "48 hours". Both were stars at the Saturday Night Live show.
"Trading places" is one of the best movies in their careers.
The premise is similar to that of "Hoi Polloi" (1935), The Three Stooges film. Two rich guys are arguing about what matters most: breeding or upbringing. One bets the other they can take any bum off the street and make him a gentleman. The story about the Dukes' cornering of the orange juice market was probably inspired by the "Silver Thursday" market crash of 27 March 1980, during which the Hunt brothers of Texas tried to corner the silver market and subsequently failed to meet a $100 million margin call. It's also more than possible that Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper" was the main inspiration for this movie.
"Trading places" is one of the best 80's comedies and comedies overall. The screenplay is rich with humor . There isn't any dull or boring moment . The story has heart and depth. "TP" isn't afraid to make a social commentary about racism , prejudice and capitalism. There is one running theme in this movie 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.
The humor mixes the sophisticated jokes with the not-so sophisticated ones , never resorting to cheap humor. The baggage handlers marveling over how human the "gorilla" appears are priceless. The last 30 minutes is not bad education about stock market. Extremely witty comedy , no poor taste and little obscenity, no slapstick.
The cast is great . Aykroyd and Murphy have great chemistry together and they shine in their double roles (each one has to play both a bun and a broker). The supporting cast is also stellar. Who could forget Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the arrogant Dukes , Jamie Lee Curtis as the adorable hooker with the heart of gold Ophelia or Denholm Elliott as Coleman the sympathetic butler.
John Landis keeps the pace going at a nice fast speed . There is something about his direction that is very sweet and has a wonderful liberating feel. Good use of classical music too. The movie obviously stands the test of time , unlike some other 80's comedies.
Interesting thing - In 2010, as part of the Wall Street Transparency and Accountability Act, which was to regulate financial markets, a rule was included which barred anyone from using secret inside information to corner markets. Since the movie inspired this rule, it has since become known as the Eddie Murphy Rule.
Watch out for cameos from John Landis , Frank Oz and Jim Belushi .
"Trading places" is a great intelligent farce and somewhat good family movie. I give it 8/10.
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