Trading Places (Paramount Presents) (Blu-ray Review)

Paramount Presents is fast becoming a favorite catalog collection for me. Some releases are out of the box while others are lovingly reissued in a more deluxe way. While sometimes the features leave a little to be desired, often the new masters make the discs well worth the purchase. With Eddie Murphy’s classics Trading Places and The Golden Child being added to the line this week, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Like Coming To America, Trading Places is also a member of my 100+ viewing club. I can recite the film line for line and still find so much joy in all the classic scenes. Does it stand up now that Paramount has given it the “presents” treatment? Read on below and snag your copy by clicking the paid link at the end!


Lewis Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) is a hoity toity payroll executive for Duke and Duke in Philadelphia. He lives a lavish life with a gorgeous urban home, a Butler named Coleman (Denholm Elliot) and a girlfriend (Kristin Holby) who could pass for a Jordache model. He is snooty, sheltered and sure to lead a rich existence forever. He knows the stock market and aspires to be like Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche), the company’s namesakes. They are multigenerational billionaires who are also snooty but worse, sneaky too.

When Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) shows up at Duke and Duke to beg for spare change, he of course is treated badly. While thinking of his next move, after thinking he’s avoided the police, Billy Ray collides with Winthorpe. Winthorpe being the rich racist dope he is immediately thinks that he’s being robbed. After a slapstick pursuit, Valentine goes to jail and Winthorpe believes he’s a hero. Seeing an opportunity to shake things up, rich people being rich and all, Randolph and Mortimer devise a plan to have Billy Ray and Winthorpe switch places to see if the street smart Billy Ray can adapt to a better lifestyle and if Winthorpe will crack from the poverty. With the help of the crude and rude Clarence Beaks (Paul Gleason) the plan goes into motion.

But that’s not all of course – The Dukes are planning to cheat the yearly crop report by learning the results early. Beaks has also helped with the acquisition of the report. When Winthorpe is carted off to jail and Billy Ray is released, the fish out of water hilarity comes into play. There’s also Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) a literal hooker with a heart of gold who helps Winthorpe (now dubbed Louie) get back on his feet after Beaks hires her to infuriate and disgust Winthorpe’s snotty girlfriend. The boys eventually cross paths and when they figure out how to perpetrate a “great big whammy…” on the Dukes, they team up to make things right.

Trading Places definitely takes its origins from The Prince and the Pauper. It takes the prince (Louie) and makes him life real life. The film also elevates Billy Ray into a sophisticated businessman. When the two team up they’re undeniable. In Ophelia, the film has a romantic interest but also the most genuine and caring figure for both Louie and Billy Ray. She isn’t just a hooker, she’s a businesswoman who knows her plans and is setting up for retirement. Coleman plays both sides with a delight and also a sweetness. The Dukes are at times ruthless and brilliant and seeing them get their due is never unsatisfying.

The plot may feel familiar but the execution of it all is a blast. The film has no shortage of laughs and they’re all provided by some exceptionally done writing and acting. There really is a class about this film that is unmatched even now. When a comedy is nearly 40 years old and still delighting audiences, it has to be incredible. For me, Trading Places is top tier comedy to say the least.


  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • AspectRatio: 78:1
  • Layers: BD-50
  • Clarity/Detail: If you’ve been reading reviews from myself and my colleagues about this Paramount Presents line, then you know the results of the work they’ve been putting in. This release is no exception. Given a new scan in 4K, Trading Places looks absolutely incredible in this edition. Colors are warm and sumptuous. The print is sharp and pristine too! This may not be the film that would set the format into the stratosphere but had this one had a chance to make it to a 4K disc, it would be a stunner for sure. Textures pop and interiors look wonderful too.  I can’t say anything bad about this presentation.
  • Depth: If you become immersed in your movies like I do, the depth department is a big deal. With this new release, the film looks incredible depth wise. There Is a nice contrast in set pieces. Whether you’re in a jail cell or a posh apartment, the interiors are rife with the kind of detail that good depth can bring.  Characters fill sets and everything looks wonderful in the dimensional sense.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are pristine throughout with zero crush anywhere.
  • Color Reproduction: Warm, warm, warm! This release includes a warm color palette giving the eyes a feast of reds and browns. Flowers are everywhere in Louie’s/Billy Ray’s home and the Duke and Duke offices and they are vibrant and gorgeous. The clothing and outdoor landscapes also benefit from the new scan and look perfect despite the films age.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are accurate to each actor and look phenomenal.
  • Noise/Artifacts: None


  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby 2.0 Mono, Isolated Score Stereo
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
  • Dynamics: This film is no audio dynamo. This track (not sure if it’s a carryover from the 2008 release or not…) does the trick with dialogue being the clear winner and the Elmer Bernstein score coming next.  This is not a surround sound flick, so don’t expect any huge moments for your sub or surrounds.
  • Height: N/A
  • Low Frequency Extension: A source cue, Do Ya Wanna Funk by disco legend Sylvester is the only time my subwoofer registered much thump. Besides that, there is little to nothing for the sub to do.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The surrounds are not used too much here. It’s clear that the film was released originally in Mono so the additional channels are used with a light touch, mostly in the stock market scene at the end of the film.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is the clear winner of this lossless track, and it sounds great, front and center throughout.


As with all Paramount Presents titles, Trading Places comes with a slipcover that has a foldout of the original poster, a clear case that has photos and a quote inside and a digital code for your digital delights.  Besides a new Filmmaker Focus by John Landis, the extras are a carryover from the “Looking Good, Feeling Good” 2008 Blu-ray edition of the film.

  • Filmmaker Focus with John Landis (HD) – My colleagues and I have long suspected that Paramount was wanting to release these films theatrically before a home media release and this short feature further fuels our speculation. The interview acts almost as an intro to the film.
  • Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places (SD, 18:28) – A short fluffy doc on the making of the film
  • Trading Stories (SD, 8:00) – Press Junket interviews
  • The Deleted Scene (SD, 3:03) – A scene cut for pacing with an optional introduction
  • Dressing the Part (SD, 6:31) – A piece about the film’s costume design
  • Industry Promotional Piece (SD, 4:18) – A short film on the plot of the movie.
  • Isolated Score
  • Theatrical Trailer


Trading Places belongs with other great classic comedies of any era.  Murphy, Aykroyd, and Curtis are all on top of their game while Bellamy, Ameche and Gleason add their amazing skills to supporting roles.  There is never a time when this film isn’t absolutely hilarious, and each viewing proves that the film stands the test of time.  The new Paramount Presents edition of the film is exquisite and well worth the double dip or first-time purchase! As Billy Ray Valentine, Capricorn would say: Merry New Year for Blu-ray fans!

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