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Trading Places (1983)

There are some movies that are on TV around Christmas time every single year, Trading Places being one of those. But every single year I have something better to do (at least that's what I've been telling myself for the past, what, 10 years?) and I never watch it. Part of me always thought it was a dumb movie and avoided for that reason. Then not long ago I saw The Blue Brothers, also directed by John Landis and it was brilliant so I gave this one a chance. 

Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) is a successful broker with a big house, a servant (Denholm Elliott) and a beautiful fiancée (Kristin Holby). Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) is a street con artist who gets arrested after Winthorpe bumps into him and accuses him of theft. That's when Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy), Winthorpe's bosses, bet that they could turn a common criminal into a successful businessman. So Billy is given the job and home of Louis who is then set up for crimes he didn't commit to see if he resorts to crime.

Believe it or not, in spite of seeing the trailer on TV every single year, I barely knew a thing about the plot, and I was surprised by how predictable it was and how bizarre it got. That, however, by any mean meant it wasn't good. Sure, it was simple and predictable, but it was still enough interesting and fun to keep me engaged from start to finish.

Paramount Pictures
Anyway, as it happened with The Blues Brothers, the story isn't the most important aspect of the film. That role is played by the humour. It's silly but not that silly that it's annoying, mainly because there's some sophisticated humour as well, there's a nice dose of slapstick but most importantly it feels genuine, real. Not a single joke or gag feels forced, it's consistently hilarious.

The witty script wouldn't have worked the same way though if the cast wasn't able to deliver it properly. That's not the case of course, as the performances here are great. Dan Aykroyd is great as Louis Winthorpe III but I think the stand-out performances are those from Eddie Murphy as Billy Ray, Denholm Elliott as Coleman, the servant, and Jamie Lee Curtis who plays Ophelia, a prostitute with a golden heart who decides to help Winthorpe.

Bottom line, I do really regret not seeing this sooner.

This post first appeared on A Film A Day, please read the originial post: here

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Trading Places (1983)


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