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Trading Places (1983)

They’re not just getting rich… they’re getting even

Directed by:

John Landis

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 112 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

‘Trading Places’ is about nature versus nurture and it’s about rich versus poor. More than that, it’s about two very different young men who, together, stick it right up a pair of devious old codgers, make themselves a fortune, and curry favour with the audience in the process. This is one of the classic comedies of the 1980s.

The Duke brothers, Randolph and Mortimer (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche), are two greedy, unscrupulous and racist Philadelphia commodity brokers who wager all of $1 on a hair-brained “scientific experiment”. They decide to take high-flying company manager Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd), a Harvard graduate with a swisher-than-swish lifestyle, and set him up for a fall to see how soon it’ll be before he turns to crime. In the meantime, street bum Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) is placed in Winthorpe’s old job and swanky townhouse to see if he can cut it with the bigwigs on the stock exchange.

Before long, Winthorpe’s a suicidal gun-toting thief who lives with a lady-of-the-night (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Billy Ray’s scolding house guests for making a mess of his nice clean rug. But there’s trouble in store for ol’ Randolph and Mortimer when the pair of them catch on and hatch a cunning plan to get their own back.

This terrific comedy is brilliantly cast – Aykroyd was already operating at the very top of his game, Murphy and Curtis were in the process of blossoming into major stars, and Ameche and Bellamy clearly revel in every minute of their involvement. Murphy in particular is in his element with the bitingly funny script, with Aykroyd almost like his straight man when the pair join forces to twist the knife on their old bosses.

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It's Got: A great scene where Ralph Bellamy condescendingly explains to Eddie Murphy what bacon is – “like might you find in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich”.

It Needs: Some DVD extras to make it a worthwhile buy – otherwise you might as well wait until it’s next on TV (which, let’s face it, is pretty often) and set the VCR.

DVD Extras Nothing here. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

48 Hours, Coming to America

Summary

A rare chance to see some of the US’s better comedy performers, each of them on top form, thrown together in one very funny and entertaining movie.

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