Trading Places

Critics Consensus

Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.



Total Count: 45


Audience Score

User Ratings: 87,570
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Movie Info

The "nature-nurture" theory that motivated so many Three Stooges comedies is the basis of John Landis's hit comedy. The fabulously wealthy but morally bankrupt Duke brothers (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) make a one-dollar bet over heredity vs. environment. Curious as to what might happen if different lifestyles were reversed, they arrange for impoverished street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) to be placed in the lap of luxury and trained for a cushy career in commodities brokerage. Simultaneously, they set about to reduce aristocratic yuppie Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd to poverty and disgrace, hiring a prostitute (Jamie Lee Curtis) to hasten his downfall. When Billy Ray figures out that the brothers intend to dump him back on the streets once their experiment is complete, he seeks out Winthorpe, and together the pauper-turned-prince and prince-turned-pauper plot an uproarious revenge. With the good-hearted prostitute and Winthorpe's faithful butler (Denholm Elliott) as their accomplices, they set about to hit the brothers where it really hurts: in the pocketbook. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Dan Aykroyd
as Louis Winthorpe III
Eddie Murphy
as Billy Ray Valentine
Ralph Bellamy
as Randolph Duke
Don Ameche
as Mortimer Duke
Paul Gleason
as Clarence Beeks
Kristin Holby
as Penelope Witherspoon
Alfred Drake
as President of Exchange
Bo Diddley
as Pawnbroker
Frank Oz
as Corrupt Cop
Al Franken
as Baggage Handler #1
Tom Davis
as Baggage Handler #2
Jim Gallagher
as Duke & Duke Employee #3
Bonnie Behrend
as Duke & Duke Employee #5
Jim Newell
as Duke & Duke Employee #7
Richard D. Fisher Jr.
as Duke & Duke Employee #2
Anthony DiSabantino
as Duke & Duke Employee #4
Sunnie Merrill
as Duke & Duke Employee #6
Mary St. John
as Duke & Duke Employee #8
David Schwartz
as Duke & Duke Employee #10
Maurice Woods
as Duke & Duke Employee #1
Bonnie Tremenal
as Duke & Duke Employee #9
Tom Degidon
as Duke Domestic #1
Alan Dellay
as Duke Domestic #3
Ray D'Amore
as Duke Domestic #5
Herb Peterson
as Duke Domestic #7
Walt Gorney
as Duke Domestic #9
William Magerman
as Duke Domestic #2
Florence Anglin
as Duke Domestic #4
Bobra Suiter
as Duke Domestic #6
Sue Dugan
as Duke Domestic #8
B. Constance Barry
as Duke Domestic #10
P. Jay Sidney
as Heritage Club Doorman
Tom Mardirosian
as Officer Pantuzzi
Charles D. Brown
as Off. Reynolds
Peter Hock
as Cop #2
Clint Smith
as Doo Rag Lenny
Ron Taylor
as Big Black Guy
James D. Turner
as Even Bigger Black Guy
Giancarlo Esposito
as Cellmate #2
Steve Hofvendahl
as Cellmate #3
Gwyllum Evans
as President of Heritage Club
Michele Mais
as Hooker #1
Barra Kahn
as Hooker #2
Bill Cobbs
as Bartender
Joshua Daniels
as Party Goer
W.B. Brydon
as Bank Manager
Margaret H. Flynn
as Duke & Duke Receptionist
Lucianne Buchanan
as President's Mistress
Paul Garcia
as Jr. Executive #1
Jed Gillin
as Jr. Executive #2
Jimmy Raitt
as Ophelia's Client
Kate Taylor
as Duke's Secretary
Bill Boggs
as Newscaster
Deborah Reagan
as Harvey's Girlfriend
Don McLeod
as Gorilla
Stephen Stucker
as Stationmaster
Paul Austin
as Trader #1
Maurice Copeland
as Secretary of Agriculture
Ralph Clanton
as Official #1
Bryan Clark
as Official #2
Gary Howard Klar
as Longshoreman #1
Afemo Omilami
as Longshoreman #2
Barry Dennen
as Demitri
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News & Interviews for Trading Places

Critic Reviews for Trading Places

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (6)

  • Landis' direction is deft, but the sparkling performances are the real draw not only by Murphy and Aykroyd but also by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the meddling oldsters, Denholm Elliott as the gentlemanly servant and Jamie Lee Curtis.

    Oct 23, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Trading Places is a comedy of unavoidable fits and starts.

    Nov 23, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Trading Places also makes Eddie Murphy a force to be reckoned with.

    Apr 2, 2008 | Full Review…
  • This 1983 film re-creates a screwball comedy format and then eliminates everything but the crudest audience-gratification elements; any incursions into the more morally complicated side of the genre are quickly curtailed.

    Apr 2, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Trading Places is a light romp geared up by the schtick shifted by Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

    Apr 2, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • As a satire on the internecine savagery of fiscal doings under late Reaganite capitalism, the movie is not as biting as it thinks it is; but it's still the best hoot since Arthur.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Trading Places

  • Sep 21, 2018
    The Book of Job meets Pygmalion in this intelligent comedy that benefits from great performances (especially by Eddie Murphy), and, no matter how utterly implausible everything we see here is, at least it sells us the whole thing with enough conviction to make it a blast.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 13, 2015
    I am not sure why it took me so long to see this. Two comedy geniuses at the top of the game. It makes sense seeing as they are hardly ever seen in movies today.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2014
    Trading Places is certainly a goofy and over the top comedy, but one that remains funny more than 30 years later. Eddie Murphy excels at these eccentric roles, and the script is meant to be unrealistic but entertaining nonetheless. Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) is a well off day trader, but you can see his life isn't that realistic or genuine. Those around him, even his fiancee, seem to be simply a thinly veiled layer of relationships surrounding him. We also meet Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) who is a homeless man pandering for money while pretending to have various physical impairments to collect more money. The film's story revolves around Winthorpe's bosses, two elderly brothers who are just as rich as they are in lacking morals or compassion, who make a one dollar bet on the nature of heredity vs. environment with Winthorpe and Valentine swapping roles to test this theory. As we see Valentine move up in the world we see Winthorpe basically be kicked out on the street with nothing he once had and this causes him to go mad. Valentine eventually befriends Winthorpe as the two find out about the plot by the brothers and choose to beat them at their own game. Trading Places is lighthearted and eccentric in its humor and dances on the absurd at times. Still, this is a funny and entertaining comedy that still remains so today.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 06, 2013
    I appreciate the film trying to portray something that almost an universal theme And that is what would happen if a privileged/rich person and an impoverished person traded places and seeing how they would each do in a different world and what they would do to survive. I think this is a very universal theme and the film does have a good amount of social satire. But, somehow or other, the film isn't as funny as it thinks it is. The film doesn't exactly get into the complexities of how each character adjusts to the change in their situation for how much time they actually spend with them adjusting to the change. I just think the movie would've benefited from more scenes of Dan and Eddie together instead of just leaving the majority of their scenes for the last act of the film. Because of that there's long stretches of the film where nothing funny really happens. This mostly happens during the second act, and some of the third act, of the film. I don't know what happens, but the film isn't funny for a good chunk of time. Again, I get what the film was trying to do and it pulled it off well. I think they get two perfect old rich assholes, in Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche, to play the Duke brothers and they help get the story "over" in a way when a lot of the comedy doesn't work. The cast is very good, the film's problems are never due to the cast, just the script. That's not to say the film isn't good because it is. It has plenty of funny moments but it also has plenty of jokes that just fall flat. For example the stuff with the gorilla fell flat...none of those jokes worked, at all. So really, I'd still say this is a good movie with a fun cast but it's definitely a mixed bag as far as the comedy goes.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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