June 12, 2018

The Timelessness of TRADING PLACES

Starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliott, Paul Gleason, Kristin Holby. Directed by John Landis. (1983/116 min).


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

Remember when Eddie Murphy was the biggest movie star in the world? It's hard to believe that was three decades ago.

You know what else is hard to believe? That he pretty-much reached that status with only three movies: 48HRS, Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, the last of which made Eddie Murphy a brand name and a license to print money. For awhile, anyway.

Those three films shaped his image, defined his career and will ultimately be his legacy (though some fans might throw-in Coming to America). His brand of brash humor and congenial cockiness were never fresher or funnier than they were here. While 48HRS is arguably his best and Beverly Hills Cop is by-far his biggest, Trading Places might be the most timeless. Watching it today, it doesn't look or feel like a high-concept product of its time.

The Nugent Family Christmas.
In fact, if you were to take away the foul language, drug references and nudity, Trading Places is a Capraesque comedy in the classic tradition...with smart writing, rich characters and subtle commentary on class division. And while it helped make Murphy a star, he's just one component that makes it work so well. We tend to forget that Dan Aykroyd was every-bit as a talented, but whose performances were always more character-based. The divergent styles they bring to their roles provide not only much of the humor, but establish the tone of the entire film.

Like Murphy and Aykroyd, director John Landis has made funnier movies, but along with An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places is his most narratively cohesive, with the best cast he's ever worked with (and kudos for having the foresight to cast Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche completely against type). I would even argue that Trading Places remains his last great film, certainly one of the few that plays as well today as it did 35 years ago.

NOTE: Aside from a digital copy, this 35th Anniversary Edition includes the exact same bonus features as previous editions.
FEATURETTES - "Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places"; "Trading Stories"; "Dressing the Part"; "The Trade in Trading Places."
INDUSTRY PROMOTIONAL PIECE - Made at the time of release, featuring Aykroyd & Murphy.
TRIVIA POP-UPS - Select this option for bits of info that appear throughout the movie (I wish movie discs would feature this option).

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