Trading Places: "Looking Good, Feeling Good" Edition – DVD Review

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John Landis


Dan Aykroyd ………. Louis Winthorpe III
Eddie Murphy ………. Billy Ray Valentine
Ralph Bellamy ………. Randolph Duke
Don Ameche ………. Mortimer Duke
Denholm Elliott ………. Coleman
Jamie Lee Curtis ………. Ophelia

The Movie

The combination of comedic heavies of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd with John Landis, director of Animal House, looks like a odd one on paper. Eddie Murphy is funny enough to carry a movie by himself; Dan Aykroyd is best playing off another funny comedian; John Landis has been behind the camera of a classic comedy movie. But sometimes when you add everything up on paper it just doesn’t work, while other times it could work better than you ever expected. Would the pieces – talents – above fit perfectly in Trading Places?

The comedy’s title is simplistic, telling the audience just what to expect. Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy) are commodity brokers who like to wager with each other from time to time. For their latest bet, Randolph believes they can take a common criminal and make him a successful businessman in the company. The criminal, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), is to be given the job and home of Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), who works for the older Duke brothers. Louis is then set up for crimes he didn’t commit, to see if he resorts to crime, like Billy Ray, once he’s lost his rich environment and friends.

The premise for this movie is also like the title: simple. But it is also unique. You take someone from one culture and put them in a completely different culture. There are two different races examined here, but it’s really not as much about race as you would think. It’s more about the classic argument of “nature vs. nurture.” Are you born to be a certain person or does how you grew up play a bigger part of who you ultimately become? There is also the main theme from the 1980’s of “greed is good.”

What takes this comedy to another level is the acting. This is one of Dan Aykroyd’s best movies and definitely one of his funniest. Eddie Murphy was fairly new to movies at this point in his career, but you can tell he was just about ready to break out and become a big comedy star. Aykroyd and Murphy sounds like a strange comedy duo, but they actually work relatively well. Seeing Eddie Murphy in Dan Aykroyd’s world and Dan Aykroyd in Eddie Murphy’s world is quite funny. In addition, Jamie Lee Curtis has a strong supporting role here. Who knew she could actually be that funny.

This comedy is a forgotten one as Eddie Murphy and Dan Ayroyd have gone on to do other funny movies since then. But they had never done another one together and surprisingly they gel and the end result is a funny movie that has more depth to it than other movies like it. And the uniqueness of the story, is also reminiscent of the old adage that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. You certainly can’t judge a movie without watching it first.

The Video:

The video is given in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video was “improved” for this special edition DVD. It’s a fairly giant update since the movie is 25 years old. Overall, it’s about as good as it’s going to get.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, English 2.0 Surround sound, French Mono sound, Spanish Mono sound, or Portuguese Mono sound. There are subtitles available in English only. No real problems here either. The music and dialogue comes out loud and clear.

The Extras:

“Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places” Featurette
This featurette is your basic “making of” featurette. Only it’s 25 years later and the cast and crew today tell you how much fun it was making this film a long time ago. Really here is where you learn how the idea of the film came about, casting choices, and everything else you want to know about making this film.

“Trading Stories” Featurette
This featurette is more like the original interviews with the cast as opposed to the new interviews with the cast, which can be found in the previous feature. Back in 1983 the cast and crew did some interview for publicity of the film in Great Britain. These have not been seen since then.

“Dressing the Part” Featurette
This featurette is all about the costume and fashion choices for the various characters in this movie. Fairly interesting.

“The Trade in Trading Places” Featurette
This featurette is all about the career of “inside trading”, which is what is at the center of this movie. This is a little more interesting as it’s a job that many people probably don’t know about.

Deleted Scene
There is one deleted scene on here. There is an option to hear one of the executive producers, George Folsey Jr., talk about what this scene is all about and why it got cut. I recommend that, because you will have no idea what’s going on here if you don’t. Basically, it features Paul Gleason’s character, Clarence Beeks. He drugs some cop and steals some confidential information. It really interrupts the flow of the movie and nothing special, so I say skip this unless you must watch it.

Trivia Pop-Ups
You have the option to view the movie with these trivia pop-ups turned on. They do exactly what they say they do. They “pop-up” with interesting little facts or trivia about the movie during a specific scene.

Industry Promotional Piece
Basically, this is a very short commercial for the movie. This is how they tried to sell the movie to movie studios before it was finished.


Any Dan Aykroyd fan would want to buy this movie, even if they haven’t seen it, as this is one of his best movies, if not the best. Eddie Murphy has been in better movies since this one, but he was still pretty funny here. If you haven’t seen this movie at all, I recommend renting and checking it out as it’s a forgotten comedy that is entertaining and fun to watch.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Trading Places
(OUT OF 10)