Posted in Film Commentary

Review: Trading Places

Happy New Year everyone! I decided to finish off my holiday season reviews with a film that covers both Christmas and New Years. Also, I just really miss 1980s Eddie Murphy, so I wanted to watch something with him in it. Without further ado, Trading Places!

Exchange Student from Cameroon

One thing I like about movies is when things get explained without using too many words. The opening sequence of this film is a good example in that it keeps passing between scenes of Philadelphia rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods, emphasizing just how different they are. As viewers, we have a better understanding of just how wide the gap is between the classes in the city, and can piece together how badly things are going to go once the classes are forced to mix. While this is a good technique for this film to use, I do think this scene could have been done better. Instead of strictly showing poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods, they could have done more character development by showing Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) getting ready in comparison to Valentine (Eddie Murphy) waking up on the streets. Instead, this character development wasn’t used until later in the film (and with dialogue).


On the note of the “rich” and the “poor” this movie does attempt social commentary in a sense and occasionally succeeds. A majority of the jokes in this film that refer to race portray how ridiculous racism is instead of strictly relying on racial stereotypes. However, most of the stuff about how rich people treat poor people and vice versa was overblown to the point of not being realistically relevant. It was great for the story line of the film, but didn’t hold enough credibility to actually be considered legitimate commentary.

Winthorp and Valentine Meet

As a reviewer, I usually feel inclined to say that a movie was either “good” or “bad”, but I honestly don’t feel either way about this movie. The character development is decent, and Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy are both in their prime, but there are various plot holes that even for a comedy I can’t quite shake off.  It’s been hard to find things to say about this film because it is pretty straight-forward. This film is not visually stunning but it is not vapid or completely void of substance, either. I like this movie, but I honestly would not think to watch it outside of the holiday season. Sorry my last review of the holidays is so short and essentially amounts to a shrug, but that is the best way to describe my feelings for this film. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year, and I look forward to going back to normal reviews for your enjoyment!

Favorite Scene:


2 thoughts on “Review: Trading Places

  1. You also have to remember that it was filmed in the heart of Reaganomics. Everybody was trying to get theirs and junk bonds and the economy was running crazy. The plot holes, like every movie, are there to move the movie along no matter how far fetched. Obviously, the movie is hardly credible, but a skewed look at high finance and the absurdity that sometimes goes with it. I enjoyed it as a fun movie that really can’t stand on it’s own without Aykroyd and Murphy being at their very best. Hats off to both. Your review is somewhat insightful and interesting but doesn’t quite grasp the period that the movie was made.

  2. I tend to review films with as little outside research as possible because I think the films should have the right to speak for themselves. I understand that this was made during the era of Reaganomics, but the film does very little to portray that by itself. For instance, you do not need to do much outside research of a film like Casablanca to understand why the war set tensions so high as many of the actors had personal issues related to the war and let it show through their performances. This film does not do the same for Reaganomics, instead it merely pokes fun at the class differences. Granted, comparing this film to Casablanca is not a necessarily fair comparison, but it still shows how this film failed to stand the test of time in that regard.

    As for the plot holes, I’m not of the belief that plot holes are there to “move the movie along”. Plot holes are usually given less scrutiny in comedies but I do not feel that means they should be ignored. Plot holes are there because someone couldn’t think of how to fill in the details, not because they help the movie.

    Either way, thanks for reading and I appreciate your input!

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