While most people are watching Christmas staples such as Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, or Die Hard, I have on something else. Something that seems to fly under people’s radar as far as holiday movies go: Trading Places.
Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd are pure comedic genius in this movie from 1983. Both had found success from their years on Saturday Night Live, which proved to help their careers soar in the ’80s. Originally the movie was to have Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, but Pryor had dropped out of the film. While that duo would have been perfect for the roles of Louis and Billy, Murphy and Aykroyd absolutely killed it. This was Murphy’s second film to date, but it is one of his most iconic roles.
This was also the first comedy role for Jamie Lee Curtis, whom Paramount wasn’t sold on as she had only done horror movies prior. However, Curtis is a capable actress, and really nailed the role of Ophelia, the sex worker who takes in a downtrodden Louis. This role helped shed her type cast of Scream Queen, which obviously worked out extremely well for Curtis.
While the idea of a person from a strong economic background switching places with a person from a poor background isn’t new, this movie does it well. It’s funny, it’s poignant, and a lot of the themes and problems in the movie can still be applied today. Plus, it’s just a great comedy. The Christmas setting adds a level of hilarity, especially when Aykroyd dresses up as a downtrodden Santa. If you’re looking for something different to watch for the holidays, this should absolutely be your movie.