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Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis star in this old-fashioned Capra-esque social comedy with a Preston Sturges bite (and substantially more F-words than either), one of the most critically acclaimed comedies of the 1980s.
Holding opposing views in the old nature-vs.-nurture debate, upper-crust snobs Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer Duke (Don Ameche) place a $1 wager on whether they can take impoverished street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) and switch his life with that of Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), a WASP, Ivy League, to-the-manor-born young broker at the Duke firm. Framing Winthorpe for robbery and drug dealing, the Dukes have the bewildered broker arrested, fired and evicted from his home in short order, and install Valentine in his former position. While Valentine initially enjoys the plush life he's been parachuted into, he soon begins to take an actual interest in his job; meanwhile, the homeless Winthorpe finds comfort in the arms of a good-hearted prostitute (Jamie Lee Curtis) and begins plotting his revenge on the Dukes. A Capra-esque social comedy with a Preston Sturges bite (and substantially more F-words than either), Trading Places was one of the most critically acclaimed comedies of the 1980s, continuing Murphy's ascension to big-screen stardom only three years after his debut on SNL and making marvellous use of old Hollywood hands Bellamy and Ameche — and we haven't even mentioned the gorilla.