Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis
Director: John Landis
Running Time: 116 mins
Trading Places is an American film about a homeless con artist who is given the opportunity to switch places with a well-off businessman, and vice versa, after two billionaires make a bet that putting him in better surroundings can turn his life around.
This isn’t only a classically funny comedy, with brilliant performances from Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, but also a very clever and unique one that tells an intriguing story beyond all the laughs. In the end, it may not be the most side-splittingly hilarious film you’ve ever seen, but its intelligence really make it a one to watch.
The story follows the two men, both from completely opposite backgrounds, whose lives are turned completely upside down, for the better in one case, and for the worse in the other. The film then tells a fascinating story about how some people can change based on their environment, and it’s not all down to their blood and nature, which is really interesting to see.
And whilst it’s brilliant to see Murphy, playing a poor man marvelling at all the riches he spontaneously acquires, the stand-out in this movie is Dan Aykroyd. His performance throughout it fantastic, because he starts it off by giving us this clearly hard-working and intelligent businessman, but one who’s just got a bit too big for his boots, making him just a little bit loathsome.
The best part, however, comes when his character is thrust into a disgraced life, after being fired from his job, he’s left homeless, and is forced to make friends with a local prostitute just to find shelter. Aykroyd is hilarious in playing this man desperately frustrated by his situation, but he’s ultimately likeable enough to care about and sympathise with when everything is going wrong, and that’s what makes this film so much more pleasant to watch than if it were a darker comedy.
The comedy throughout is pretty good too. It’s never particularly laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I was chuckling right the way through, and that made it a generally entertaining watch, even if some parts did drag a little bit.
Overall, though, I’ll give Trading Places a 7.4, because it’s not only an enjoyable comedy, but it’s a very clever and original story with great performances and a good heart to it.