Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd have made some bad movies in their day, but Trading Places is one of their respective bests.
Now legendary, the film has been referenced and homaged to an extent matched by few other recent films. It's a classic story: Greedy Phildadelphia commodity brokers Randolph and Mortimer Duke (the inimatable Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) bet the sum of $1 on a "scientific experiment," namely that they can depose their successful managing director Louis (Aykroyd) and replace him with a common street bum named Valentine (Murphy).
Sure enough, after planting a little PCP on Louis and installing Valentine in Louis's cushy house, the bet is paid. But Valentine finds out about it, and with the aid of the now rock-bottomed Louis and the hooker (Jamie Lee Curtis) who's been taking care of him, they decide to get back at the Duke brothers (and their massive fortune).
Despite some nagging plot holes (involving a pretty simplistic look at the financial world which makes ruin far easier than it really is), Trading Places is a riotous success on the strength of its fantastic comedy and engaging performances from both leads and supporting characters. Denholm Elliott, as Louis and Valentine's butler, is perfect as always, but it's Bellamy and Ameche who nearly steal the show. Their explanation of pork bellies to Valentine -- "like you might find on a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich" -- is so priceless it leads Murphy to stare straight into the camera with the perfect deadpan expression.
It might be drowning in '80s kitsch, but in its day Trading Places was a massive hit, and rightly so. Wildly funny and perfectly cast, this is Murphy and Aykroyd at the top of their game.