The rich and greedy Duke Brothers wager a bet over whether born loser Valentine could become as successful as the priggish Winthorpe if circumstances were reversed. The Dukes have the money to make this happen, but when Valentine and Winthorpe catch on they arrange for a rich and riotous payback!
For more about Trading Places and the Trading Places Blu-ray release, see Trading Places Blu-ray Review published by PeteR on August 7, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Wealthy brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy & Don Ameche) make a bet that turns the lives of two very different men: Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), a snobby Harvard educated commodities broker, and Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), a homeless street hustler & small time crook, upside down. The result is Winthorpe's life destroyed by false charges of embezzlement and drug dealing while Billy Ray is given all the trappings of Winthorpe's former domain: a high-paying job, mansion, limo, and a butler: Coleman (Denholm Elliot). Taken in by sympathetic Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis), a business savvy hooker with the proverbial heart of gold, Winthorpe plans to get his life back while Valentine adjusts to his new surroundings and unravels a plot by the Duke brothers that will affect the destinies of all involved.
Dan Aykroyd & Eddie Murphy's reaction to this Blu-ray Disc.
After nearly 25 years, Trading Places remains funny and socially relevant. While some technology and fashions have aged, the plot, script, and fine performances by the cast have not. John Landis' direction is restrained and the cast is comfortable and believable in their roles. Landis had to fight for his cast… it's easy to forget Eddie Murphy wasn't yet the box office phenom he would be just a short year later with Beverly Hills Cop. Curtis was only known as the "scream queen" from Halloween, and Aykroyd was the guy from Saturday Night Live who's latest film, Doctor Detroit, had just bombed at the box office. Landis had to convince the skeptics at Paramount that they would work in a film originally envisioned as a vehicle for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
Trading Places also marked a return to the silver screen for Don Ameche, who just a couple years later would win a Best Supporting Oscar for Cocoon. Denholm Elliot, probably best known as "Marcus" in the Indiana Jones films, provides subtle, yet important support in role of the butler. The script is strong, smart, and most important: funny. You never feel your intelligence has been insulted, even when the film occasionally veers to goofy or crude humor. Anyone looking for a pleasant ride will enjoy this film, a modern retelling of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.
The MPEG4 AVC encoding (@1080p) has no objectionable artifacts, with the bitrate usually hovering in the low 20Mbps range (according to the PS3). There is minimal damage and grain, and no obvious edge enhancement. How to describe the transfer? One word: impressive! Hard to believe that this film is nearly a quarter century old! Paramount has treated this catalog title with respect. Every frame is extremely detailed and colorful; it's easy to get lost in admiring the textures that were lost in previous incarnations. Flesh tones are spot on, and shadow details aren't crushed. There are only a few dodgy shots, some stock footage during the main titles and opticals (of which there are few) have some heavy grain. The rest of the film is near immaculate. The pop-up feature points out several continuity errors and the clarity of the transfer makes these readily apparent, such as the changing amount of snow on Eddie Murphy's coat in his first scene, or the mussed hair of Dan Aykroyd on the police station steps. You can also tell it was a very cold location shoot: breath vapor can be easily to spot coming from the actors whenever they are outdoors. Interiors are dripping with detail: carpet and wallpaper patterns are easily resolved, marks and scratches on wood, any and every set detail is sharp and crisp. The stitching and fabrics, every little pinstripe and pattern, of the various costumes is a revelation, especially compared to the standard definition DVD. The only thing the image lacks is the three dimensionality of the best high definition transfers. I would put that more on the style of the film, rather than a transfer flaw. I would be very surprised if Trading Places looked as good in the cinema as it does here, especially considering the state of movie theaters at the time (this is the same year George Lucas introduced the THX Cinema certification program starting with Return of the Jedi). All in all this makes it a valued upgrade over the DVD.
Trading Places receives a Dolby Digital encoded 5.1 remix from the original mono. The track itself is clean with good frequency response. Stereo & surround spread is mainly reserved to the music and environments with the occasional sound effect (such as a gunshot). This being a comedy, the material doesn't call for an aggressive mix. The most important component, dialog, is clear and easy to understand. Elmer Bernstein's bouncy score benefits the most from the remix. Bass is mainly limited to a couple '80's pop songs. While not a showcase track, this is a textbook example of a fine remix from mono material. Other soundtrack options include the film in French or Spanish mono (DD 2.0 mono @192kbps). The original English mono mix is not included, which is a bit disappointing. Just as the film is presented in its OAR, Paramount should give us the option to hear the original soundtrack as the filmmakers intended audiences to hear in 1983.
The extras included in this Special Edition are minimal. No commentary by the filmmakers or cast may leave some disappointed, as well as the fact that there is no theatrical trailer included.
All extras are presented in 4:3 MPEG2 @480p and are encoded in Dolby 2.0 @ 192kbps.
Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places (0:18:28)
A newly created short doc with cast & crew interviews.
Trading Stories (0:07:59)
Vintage interviews from a press junket in the U.K. when the film opened in 1983.
The Deleted Scene (0:03:09)
A small scene cut for pacing with a separate (optional) introduction from executive producer George Folsey, Jr.
Dressing The Part (0:06:31)
Costume Designer Deborah Nadoolman discusses her contribution to the story.
The Trade in Trading Places (0:05:25)
Commodities brokers discuss what the business in the movie entails and explain just what happened at the end (something some folks are confused about to this day!).
Industry Promotional Piece (0:04:18)
A short film made for ShoWest explaining what the movie was about starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy (doing various voices & shtick).
Trivia Pop-Ups (runs during feature film)
Various facts, trivia, and comments that appear inside small dollar bills that pops up during the course of the movie. Pretty interesting on its own, however the tiny text may be difficult to read on smaller monitors. This can be accessed in the film at any time via subtitle stream #5.
While the paucity of the extras may leave some wanting, this is a terrific presentation of Trading Places in High Definition on Blu-ray Disc and is a recommended upgrade for fans of the film and a safe bet for newcomers. Another win for Paramount.
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