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Comedy Movies - Trading Places

BUY Trading Places (dvd cover)
Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis
Denholm Elliott, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy
Dir: John Landis
Paramount 1983
116 Minutes

Trading Places is a charming comedy DVD about the stock market i.e. commodities trading. The plot is simple and enjoyable to follow, Eddie Murphy is under control so he does not irritate the viewer with his mannerisms, Dan Aykroyd is true to form, Jamie Lee Curtis shows her breasts a few times (bonus!) and her comedic talent all the time. One of the many very reasonably priced Paramount DVDs, Trading Places is a comedy that works without being over the top or uproariously funny.

The plot is a bet between two old rich guys, Mortimer and Randolph Duke (no relation to the Dukes of Hazard county) who bet on whether genes or environment make the man. To settle this bet, they strip Louis (Dan Aykroyd), the rich guy who works for them and makes them money on pork bellies and other commodities, of all his possessions and transfer all that power to Billy Dee / William (Eddie Murphy) a guy from the ghetto to see if in the right environment William will prosper and if in the wrong environment Louis' genes will let him down and he will become a byproduct of his new bad environment. Sounds boring but it is far from being so. Once out on his ass, Louis has the great luck to meet a hooker with a heart of gold, Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis), who takes him in and helps him get back on his feet. Billy Dee and Louis learn of the bet the Duke brothers made on them and with the help of Ophelia and Coleman (Denholm Elliott) the butler they get even and teach the Duke brothers a lesson they will not forget.

The jokes in this movie are sometimes subtle (a wonderful bit with a money clip by Don Ameche), sometimes crude (a ribald song sun by some Harvard grads at the private club Louis also belongs to) and sometimes subtle and crude (in the crude song the Harvard grads sing about the brotherhood of Harvard and then snub Louis). Very funny also are the sequences with Aykroyd dressed as Santa Claus.

Director John Landis (the See You Next Wednesday reference that appears in all his movies is here in a poster in Ophelia's bedroom) uses Trading Places as a bit of a sociological study (much like the bed the commodities brokers are doing). The movie opens with cuts from shots of poor and rich Philadelphia neighborhoods, William invites his old "friends" to his new manor and is appalled by the way they dis his new digs, and the upper crust certainly takes its cuts throughout the movie. Landis is also not afraid of having both Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd play straight through the camera and to the audience a couple of times.

Although this is not a movie to watch with the kids, both because of the topic the plot is based on and the few breasts flashed here and there, Trading Places is definitely a very funny and enjoyable movie. Also, Paramount made sure the price was right.

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