Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.