Trading Places

1983, Movie, R, 106 mins


The plot of this fine comedy owes more than a passing nod to Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper: street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) and upscale yuppie Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) are forced to switch positions in life to resolve a bet between two rich brothers, Mortimer and Randolph Duke (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy), who frame Winthorpe and welcome Valentine into their business in his place. The rise of Valentine and the fall of Winthorpe are a source of great fun. The street hustler proves that his years in back alleys have stood him in good stead, providing him with all sorts of fresh business ideas. In Winthorpe's case, however, it is only when he meets and falls for hooker Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) that he begins to appear in a sympathetic light. Although it tends to rely heavily on slapstick in the second half, the movie provides plenty of laughs and is one of director Landis's best efforts--despite overtones of racism that were perhaps intended ironically but have no business in the story. leave a comment

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