A snobby investor and a streetwise conman find their positions
in life switched when two callous millionaires make a bet.
Trading Places (1983)
Directed by John Landis
Written by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod
Starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis,
Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Paul Gleason
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Score (Elmer Bernstein)
Apart from an ill-advised scene with Dan Aykroyd in blackface and some heavily implied gorilla rape, Trading Places is a hilarious 80's comedy that's aged pretty well. And yeah, that's a sentence I never thought would even pop into my head, let alone start a review. Regardless, the impeccable comedic chops of both Aykroyd and a relatively new to Hollywood Eddie Murphy turns this from a would-be forgettable comedy to an 80's classic and a great holiday watch.
Meet Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd). He's your typical East Coast snob with a stick up his ass. He works as an investment broker for the Duke Brothers (Bellamy and Ameche), and is well-respected in his circles. After the Dukes encounter wily conman Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy), they decide to make a bet that they can turn Valentine into a rich success while simultaneously ruining Winthorpe's life so bad that he turns to crime. With that, these rich bastards switch Winthorpe and Valentine's lives, leading to hilarious "fish out of water" situations. Of course, once Valentine finds out about the bet, he joins forces with Winthorpe to turn the tables on the Dukes. It's simple but pretty entertaining.
John Landis was one of the best comedy and horror directors of the 80's, and Trading Places is a good one of his. Granted, it's got some dated problems that are tough to move past nowadays, but I don't blame Aykroyd for that. I admire how this film tries to explain the stock market to the layperson and really sticks it to the one percent in the end. It's really easy to root for these likable characters. It's comedy gold.