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Case Number 11462

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Trading Places: Special Collector's Edition

Paramount // 1983 // 116 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 28th, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson thinks Dan Aykroyd and black face do not mix.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Happy Holidays Collection (published December 31st, 2011), Trading Places (published October 17th, 2002), and Trading Places (HD DVD) (published August 16th, 2007) are also available.

The Charge

They're not just getting rich…they're getting even. Again.

Opening Statement

It's time for another double dip with a cutesy name and this go-round the Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd classic Trading Places receives the special treatment.

Facts of the Case

Aykroyd is Louis Winthorpe III, a well-to-do manager of the Duke and Duke commodities brokerage who has carved out a comfortable existence. But the Duke brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) are cruel employers and wager that they can swap Louis's life with that of a street punk named Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy).

As their scheme plays out, Louis is framed as a drug dealer, loses his job, his fiancée and his friends, and shacks up out of desperation with Ophelia the hooker (a smoking Jamie Lee Curtis). When Billy Ray and Louis eventually discover the Dukes' plan, they set out for some payback and hope to get paid at the same time.

The Evidence

The previous release of this excellent comedy left much to be desired (read: everything) in the extras department, so I can forgive Paramount for unleashing a second iteration. The so-called "Looking Good, Feeling Good" edition lobs in a nice selection of bonus materials and while no feature truly stands out as a kingmaker, the variety of what is offered earns this disc at least a second glance. Here's an overview:

• "Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places"
This retrospective documentary blends new interviews with the stars of the film with stock footage (Murphy, specifically) as they reminisce about the experience of the film. Director John Landis recounts his challenge convincing the studio of his casting choices, though that must have surely gone away considering how much time was dedicated in the featurette to the unanimous awe of Jamie Lee's breasts.

• "Trading Stories"
Twenty-year old interviews, culled together from overseas promotion of the film when it was released in 1983—interesting, but light on the substance.

• "Deleted Scene with optional commentary by producer George Foley Jr."
This is the only deleted scene on the set and it's a snoozer.

• "Dressing the Part"
A brief segment on the costuming of the film. Truthfully, when I think of Trading Places, "costume design" doesn't spring to mind. But if you want to know where these guys got their suits, here you go.

• "The Trade in Trading Places"
Funny enough, this look at the jargon of the key trade scene at the end of the film is my preferred bonus feature. Despite that shoe-horned speech by Louis to sum up what happens during a day of trading in the exchange, there was little else to work with to decipher the ins and outs of commodities brokering. Prepare to be enlightened by some actual traders and brokers as they spell out what goes on in the pits.

• "Trivia Pop-Ups"
Access this feature by selecting the last subtitle track. Throughout the film trivia blurbs appear, dishing out information that ranges from the pointless (the different slang terms of marijuana) to the moderately interesting (Jamie Lee acted in the same film as her future brother-in-law, though she didn't know him or his brother, her husband Christopher Guest).

That's a handsome selection of extras supplementing one of my favorite comedies. Trading Places is not only a funny, career-making (Murphy was breaking into the film industry and Aykroyd was just as green) rags-to-riches-to-rags comedy, but also a slick social satire of the glorious excess of the '80s. Add to that a true, er, bust-out, performance by Curtis and we're talking classic status. I'd be willing to entertain an argument that this is Murphy and Aykroyd's best film. Although the gorilla rape scene is a bit much.

The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer holds up fine. Colors are strong and the overall look is clean. I didn't dig the 5.1 mix much, as it was front-loaded and shrill at some points.

Closing Statement

Compared to the leanness of the initial release, this special edition of a classic comedy actually benefits from its double-dip status. Barely.

The Verdict

Paramount is guilty of habitual re-release syndrome, but this special edition earns the studio early parole.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 75
Extras: 80
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Portuguese)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genre:
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Making-of Feature
• "Trading Stories"
• Deleted Scene
• "Dressing the Part"
• "The Trade in Trading Places"
• Trivia Pop-Ups
• Original Promo Piece
• Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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