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Trading Places (SE)
DVD disk
Jun 5, 2007 By: Scott Weinberg
Trading Places (SE) order
Director:
John Landis

Actors:
Eddie Murphy
Dan Aykroyd
Jamie Lee Curtis

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two slimy old tycoons hatch a plan: Turn a poor man into a tycoon while turning a rich snob into a slovenly wretch.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I can't even tell you how much I love this movie. Since TRADING PLACES hit theaters back in 1983, I've probably seen the damn thing about 15 times. And it never fails to make me laugh. It was only his second movie (after 48 HRS.), but Eddie Murphy is more consistently amusing here than he is in just about any flick (including BEVERLY HILLS COP, if you ask me). You'll also get Dan Aykroyd at the top of his game as a smug bastard who slowly grows a soul, the fantastic Denholm Elliott as a slyly sarcastic butler, Paul Gleason as one of the oiliest comedy villains out there, and the legendary Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche as two of the most manipulative wealthy jerks you'll ever see.

Fresh off the successes of ANIMAL HOUSE, THE BLUES BROTHERS and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (and a year prior to the TWILIGHT ZONE tragedy), director John Landis strikes a perfect tone between old-school storytelling and decidedly modern vulgarity. And although it clocks in at just under two hours in length, TRADING PLACES breezes by, thanks to a tight and clever screenplay, a solid stable of comedic actors, and a director who was at the very top of his game.

If you're an Eddie Murphy fan who wasn't even born by 1983, do yourself a favor and rent this DVD. The flick houses one of Murphy's very best performances, a slick concept that's only occasionally undone by a few odd divergences (the ape gag is just a little too broad for me), and a lovely look at my hometown of Philadelphia. I'm not entirely sure if TRADING PLACES is considered a "comedy classic" or not, but it sure is around my house.

And if I have to even mention the famous Jamie Lee Curtis booby scene, well, that means you DEFINITELY need to see this movie.

THE EXTRAS
Since I've seen this flick more times than I can accurately count, I dove right into the special features. I'm a little disappointed that none of the players could contribute an audio commentary, but what's offered here is still pretty fun for the fans:

"Insider Trading: The Making of TRADING PLACES" is an 18.5-minute featurette that offers interview segments with Landis, Aykroyd, Curtis, producer George Folsey, and screenwriters Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod. (Eddie Murphy contributes by way of archival interview segments.) I wouldn't have minded a little more meat on this mini-doc's bones, but it's still a pretty entertaining look back all the same.

"Trading Stories" is eight minutes of old-school interviews from the cast's publicity tour in Great Britain. Fun for the fans, but not something you'll watch more than once. You'll also find one deleted scene that you can watch with optional commentary by producer George Folsey, a 6.5-minute featurette that focuses on the costume design, a 5.5-minute piece called "The Trade," in which three commodities brokers try to explain what happens in the big finale, and a 4-minute Showest promotional clip that Landis and his gang tossed together in a big hurry.

The last extra is a "pop-up trivia track" that offers a bunch of behind-the-scenes info during the movie. (I'm a little annoyed that nobody thought to do a "locations" featurette, as the flick's a virtual love letter to Philadelphia.)

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
It's not much more than a modern (and amusingly raunchy) retelling of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, but Murphy and Aykroyd are consistently excellent throughout, the background characters are suitably colorful and appealing, and the thing winds down with a frantically happy ending. If you've never seen TRADING PLACES, well, you really ought to give it a spin.
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