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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Trading Places (SCE)



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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted May 20 2007 - 06:22 AM


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rating: R
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
Run Time: 118 minutes

Imagine if the course of your life were to be decided at the whim of two eccentric old men based solely on a wager that is attempting to deduce, rather unscientifically, the difference between genetics and socialization. That’s the premise that swaps the places of wealthy stock trader Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and scam artist Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) in an attempt to see if Valentine will succeed in business, and if Winthorpe will resort to crime. When the two find out that they are being played, they decide to exact their revenge in a complex scheme that bankrupts and embarrasses Randolph and Mortimer Duke.

Just about everything works in “Trading Places.” The casting is pitch-perfect, with Aykroyd playing the WASP Winthorpe with an air of delectable superiority, Murphy playing the down-to-Earth degenerate Valentine with a sense of hilarious veracity. Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy play the Duke brothers--who make the wager that motivates the story--with oblivious charm. Even the supporting players, like Denholm Elliot and Jamie Lee Curtis, add a lot to the movie.

“Trading Places” tells a good story, is populated with memorable characters and dialogue, and is funny to boot. The story is reminiscent of “Prince and the Pauper,” updated to deal with modern issues of race and class. A classic piece of 1980s filmmaking, featuring two of Saturday Night Live’s finest alumnus, “Trading Places” is absolutely worth your time.

Video:
This transfer is phenomenal. There is little-to-no grain found anywhere in the film, and the colors look exactly as drab and dull as I expected them to. The print is pristine, not a mark or blemish to be seen. I was blown away by how good this movie looked.

Audio:
The default 5.1 Dolby Digital track isn’t anything to sing about, but that is more borne of the limitations of the original track than any fault of the transfer. Deep and warm when it needs to be, the audio track does a more than adequate job.

Extras:
“Insider Trading” is a short retrospective featurette on the making of the film, dealing with the origins of the story, the casting and growth of Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Director John Landis chats about his favorite moments in the film, working with Ameche and Bellamy.

“Trading Stories” is a compilation of interviews from 1983, destined for UK television, that ask odd questions of the cast and crew. They aren’t particularly illuminating of the film or the actors, but they will be a nice treat for fans.

There is one deleted scene, presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which shows how Beaks stole the crop report. As it is unimportant to the story, it was well-excised. Executive Producer George Folsey, Jr. provides a commentary. “Dressing the Part” is a discussion with the costume designers, talking about how the clothes make the mood for the film.

“The Trade in Trading Places” is a featurette that talks about the real workings of commodity traders, the trade the film is wrapped around. A nice explanation of something I have never understood.

There is a trivia track that pops up information relating to the making of the film, the setting of Philadelphia, the music, and anything else the viewer would be curious about.

The ShoWest promotional piece presented in 1983, an improvisational piece put together overnight. Murphy and Aykroyd riff for a few minutes, intercut with work prints from the film. The quality ain’t great, but the content is hilarious.

There is also a stack of previews for upcoming and currently-available Dreamworks/Paramount products.

Overall:
“Trading Places” is one of my favorite comedies because it has a tremendous story, a good heart, and is funny to boot. I had no intentions of upgrading to a new DVD edition, but the improved quality on this disc definitely warrants attention.

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted May 20 2007 - 06:47 AM

This is GREAT news that the image is so good on this dvd. I have already pre-ordered the HD DVD and this means it will also be stellar. One of my all time favorite comedies...up there with Vacation. Posted Image

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted May 21 2007 - 01:57 AM

I have to disagree with the remarks that the print is pristine. It's pretty clean, but it's not without marks.

I'm pretty sure this is the same transfer found on the prior DVD...
Colin Jacobson
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#4 of 12 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted May 21 2007 - 06:16 AM

You are welcome to your opinion, however I stand by my assertion that the print is clean.

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted May 21 2007 - 11:45 AM

Print flaws aren't a matter of opinion. Most other aspects of an image are - what looks sharp to me or dull to me might seem different to you. However, print flaws either are there or they aren't - there's no in-between.

I need to do a direct comparison of this edition to the old one (waiting for the rental to arrive). When I do, I'll list some of the specific flaws in the new DVD...
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#6 of 12 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted May 21 2007 - 12:03 PM

I look forward to it.

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Ray_R

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Posted May 21 2007 - 12:24 PM

What're people's problems with film grain? It should be inherent in the picture. If it's not there, it's an over-filtered, DVNR'd mess. Give me a pristine transfer with the appropriate natural film grain over some edge enhanced, with the "noise reduction" filter all the way on transfer.
STAR WARS: Episode I - The Phantom Menace and DIE HARD: With a Vengeance come to mind immediately.

And what about original audio tracks? Why do remixes get all the attention?

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted May 21 2007 - 10:51 PM

Ray,

I reviewed the remix primarily because it is the default track. I usually attempt to give some spin to every option, but for some reason did not. I'll toss it in the player this afternoon and let you know what I think.

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Jerome Grate

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Posted May 22 2007 - 02:29 AM

Looking forward to this one, my wife and I love this movie, my favorite part is when Jamie Lee Curtis shows her upper assets, but don't tell the wife. Posted Image
Listen Up People.., Rack Em and Pack Em.., We're Phantoms in 15.

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted May 22 2007 - 02:53 AM

I've got the HD-DVD in my review cue, and I'm looking forward to seeing it!
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#11 of 12 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted May 22 2007 - 03:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Grate
Looking forward to this one, my wife and I love this movie, my favorite part is when Jamie Lee Curtis shows her upper assets, but don't tell the wife. Posted Image

And Pat gets to see it in HD. I'm jealous.

And yes, that is my favorite scene, too. Posted Image

#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted May 22 2007 - 09:57 AM

As I compared the new DVD with the old one, I discovered that they're similar but not identical transfers. Some of the same marks popped up in the same places, but some defects appeared in one and not the other.

I didn't rewatch all of the 2007 version, but here's where you can find some flaws:

6:32
13:39
29:03
58:12

More defects exist - again, I didn't check out the whole thing a second time just to document them.

These are indeed minor marks and the movie usually looked pretty terrific. It's not without flaws, though...
Colin Jacobson
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