With the holidays coming to a close, holiday movie season is almost over. If you are looking for a hilarious, just-for-adults movie to close out the season, the 1983 comedy Trading Places is definitely the film to end the year watching. Trading Places follows what happens when super wealthy brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke make a sleazy bet during the holiday season that upends both the life of their loyal-yet-pompous employee Louis and street-smart small-time criminal Billy Ray. When the truth regarding their change in fortune is revealed, both Louis and Billy Ray devise their own plan of revenge to bring down the Duke brothers using their own sleazy tactics against them.
With Eddie Murphy as Billy Ray Valentine and Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthrop III, this movie is the perfect example of how comedy leads should play off each. Each actor plays their role so ingeniously that if any other actor had been cast, these roles would have been way over the top and unrealistic. Murphy and Aykroyd are able to keep their characters grounded while performing dialogue and scenes that at first seem ridiculous, but soon they have the audience feeling sympathy for these characters who were thrown into a situation beyond their control.
The supporting characters in Trading Places are another reason this movie succeeds. They’re funny and well-rounded, not just cookie cutter characters that sometimes appears in films. Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliot, Don Ameche, and Ralph Bellamy bring their A-game as the hooker with a heart of gold, the loyal butler, and the filthy rich brothers. Each supporting character is given a moment to shine, especially near the end of the film where some plans are coming together and others are falling apart.
Another aspect that make this movie special is the classical music that is heard throughout the film. It blends perfectly into the scenes and enriches the film so that the music itself becomes a character in the film. Trading Places also uses cameos that some viewers will notice right away, while others you might miss during a first viewing. Cameos can sometimes take you out of the moment, but the ones in this film actually add to the story and help to move their plot along while remaining hilarious in their own right.
Trading Places is not your typical holiday film that the whole family can enjoy. It has nudity, f-bombs, and uncomfortable scenes that are definitely not for everyone. However, if you can look past some some of these aspects, Trading Places is Murphy and Aykroyd at their best and it deserves a watch during the holiday season. Trading Places is available to rent on Amazon.