HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Birth of the Dragon
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Thelma
Stratton
February
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Trading Places You Bet Your LifeBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: John Landis
Stars: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristin Holby, Paul Gleason, Al Franken, Tom Davis, James Belushi, Frank Oz, Bo Diddley, Nicholas Guest, Bill Cobbs, Kelly Curtis, Philip Bosco, Giancarlo Esposito
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Christmas is approaching in Philadelphia, but it might not be the season of goodwill for some. Take the super-rich Duke brothers, Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer (Don Ameche), they're not feeling very charitable, they're forever planning ways to increase their already huge fortune, and Randolph has been needling away at his sibling to take part in another of his bets. Just something they like to indulge in, but in this case people can get hurt: people like Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), one of their employees and about to find his life going to hell in a handbasket thanks to the Dukes...

As meanwhile a man whose life has already gone to hell in a handbasket has a stroke of good luck. That was the Prince and the Pauper premise to Trading Places, where one very poor fellow swaps lives with one very rich one, and the consequences are meant to tell us something about the whole nature versus nurture debate, although what most audiences took away from it was that they had just seen a major new star in the making. That star was Eddie Murphy, fresh from Saturday Night Live (he had taken over when Aykroyd and company had left) and a tough-talking hit in 48 Hrs - after this he never looked back.

Sure, he made some dubious choices, but what star does not? If you're watching, say, Norbit and wondering why you ever liked him in the first place, then take another look at Trading Places and see what a breath of fresh air he was in the comedy movie landscape (his stand-up material remains an acquired taste, mind you). Here he plays Billy Ray Valentine, initially seen as a blind, legless beggar until we find out he is only one of those things. The excellent script, by far the best thing the team of Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod ever wrote, has the division between rich and poor on its mind, with Valentine and Winthorpe the polar opposites, and taking in the racial issues and financial injustice that goes along with that.

The Dukes manufacture it so that Valentine is freed from jail after a misunderstanding with Winthorpe, and offered his job as Winthorpe is shown the door after some trumped up charges see him lose everything Valentine now has. He thinks that the former beggar is responsible and cannot understand how this could have happened, another theme being that you don't know what you've got till it's gone, and ends up taken under the wing of kindly but street smart hooker Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis impressive in the role that transformed her into a major sex symbol of her era). If both the victim and the victor realised that they were being played for fools by the powers behind the throne, then they could do something truly beneficial.

It takes them two thirds of the movie to work this out, and even then Valentine has to eavesdrop on a conversation that reveals the racist Dukes are never going to allow him to stay where he is. Funnily enough, it turns out that Randolph is right about nurture being the contributing factor to one's actions, as Valentine does indeed show a head for business once he has his chances to prove it, and Winthorpe turns to crime. But more significantly, the characters who mark themselves out as improvable are those who gain humanity, so while they start out as representations of the least wholesome members of their class, a shake up of morals provided by the plot renders them worthy of our admiration - and the admiration of each other, as they have made friends for life. Needless to say, the performers under John Landis' skillful direction are perfect - watch Aykroyd when he's in that Santa suit or anything with butler Denholm Elliott keeping his composure for fine comic acting, and Murphy in every one of his scenes, needless to say. OK, it gets silly on the train and the ending might be confusing, but Trading Places was a good show all round. Music by Elmer Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1700 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

John Landis  (1950 - )

American writer-director who made a big splash in the comedy genre, starting with The Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House and The Blues Brothers. An American Werewolf in London was an innovative blend of comedy and horror, and remains his best film.

Mega-hit Trading Places followed, but after a tragic accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, Landis' talent seemed to desert him, and he offered up some increasingly unimpressive comedies. He returned briefly to horror with Innocent Blood, and after a long spell away helmed Brit comedy Burke and Hare; he also directed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and "Black or White" videos.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
The Elix
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
   

 

Last Updated: