Trading Places (1983)



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

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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
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures

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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
Jim Belushi
as Harvey
Al Franken
as Baggage Handler #1
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 D&D Employee
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 D&D Employee
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
Avon Long
as Ezra
Tom Mardirosian
as Officer Pantuzzi
Charles D. Brown
as Off. Reynolds
Tony Sherer
as Philip
Robert Earl Jones
as Attendant
Robert E. Lee
as Cop #1
Eddie Jones
as Cop #3
John McCurry
as Cop #4
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
Barra Kahn
as Hooker #2
Bill Cobbs
as Bartender
Joshua Daniels
as Party Goer
Jacques Sandulescu
as Creepy Man
W.B. Brydon
as Bank Manager
Margaret H. Flynn
as Duke & Duke Receptionist
Tracy K. Shaffer
as Constance
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
Philip Bosco
as Doctor
Bill Boggs
as Newscaster
Deborah Reagan
as Harvey's Girlfriend
Don McLeod
as Gorilla
Stephen Stucker
as Stationmaster
Richard Hunt
as Wilson
Paul Austin
as Trader #1
Jack Davidson
as Trader
Bernie McInerney
as Trader #4
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
Donna Palmer
as Gladys
Barry Dennen
as Demitri
Walter Gorney
as Duke Domestic
Charles Brown
as Officer Reynolds
Michelle Mais
as Hooker #1
Joshua Daniel
as Party Goer
Barra Khan
as Hooker #2
Kate Taylor
as Duke's Secretary
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News & Interviews for Trading Places

Critic Reviews for Trading Places

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (7)

Trading Places is a comedy of unavoidable fits and starts.

Full Review… | November 23, 2015
Washington Post
Top Critic

Trading Places also makes Eddie Murphy a force to be reckoned with.

Full Review… | April 2, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | April 2, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Trading Places is a light romp geared up by the schtick shifted by Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

Full Review… | April 2, 2008
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.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

What's most visible in the movie is the engaging acting. Murphy and Aykroyd are perfect foils for each other.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Trading Places

A classic 80s comedy that's still surprisingly relevant in our day.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

That was amazing. Eddie Murphy killed it. Didn't like Winthorpe though.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

Billy Ray Valentine: Hey that's the motherf- I mean... that's the gentleman that had me busted.  "They're not just getting rich... They're getting even." Trading Places is one of the best comedies of the 80's and maybe ever. It's my personal favorite Eddie Murphy film and probably tied for my favorite Dan Aykroyd and John Landis film(the other of course being The Blues Brothers). What we have here was an instant comedy classic, that is as much fun as it is funny. There's not a moment of wasted screen time. It's smart, it injects a variety of different forms of humor, and it's fast paced and widely entertaining. There's not much more you can ask for from a comedy. This is the cream of the crop.  So, two greedy, manipulative, and corrupt investors make a bet. The bet involves two totally different men. One, Louis Winthorpe runs the Duke brothers investment firm and has made them a lot of money in the process. He comes from a good environment. The other is Billy Ray Valentine, a hustler who makes his money acting like a wounded Vietnam vet. He came from a bad environment. One of the Duke brothers believes that if they throw Louis into the bad environment, he will become a no good thief. He also believes that if they put Valentine into the good environment, he will be able to run the firm just as well as Louis. The other doesn't. It's all part of a fun wager until, Louis and Valentine get wise to it. There's a lot to love about the movie from the great performances from Murphy and Aykroyd to an Oscar nominated score. The versatility showed by Murphy and Aykroyd is what makes their performances so memorable. They both give two different performances within the same movie. Both must act like poor, beaten bums and like wealthy, high class investors. Neither of them waver at any moment and it's pure comedic gold. Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Paul Gleeson, and Jamie Lee Curtis are all very good as well. Trading Places is a must see comedy for all film lovers out there. It's one of those select few comedies that really stands out above the rest for me. It's up there, for me, with movies like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This is a comedic masterpiece and there's just no other way to describe it. If you haven't seen this before, watch it as soon as possible.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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