Trading Places has got to be my favorite Christmas movie. Even though I don’t believe it was meant to be a holiday movie in the traditional sense. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten the itch to watch it starting in late November. I fully expect to watch Trading Places several times by the end of the year.
This blog post was written because the last time I watched the movie, different things started to jump out at me. It’s funny how that happens. You could see something every day for years and they look the same and suddenly, something totally new jumps out at you.
Just in case you’ve never seen it, let me give you the skinny on the movie itself. Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) is employed by Randolph and Mortimer Duke. They are brothers who run a commodities- trading company. They live in Philadelphia, PA and are all filthy rich. Billy Ray Valentine, Eddie Murphy’s character isn’t wealthy at all. He’s a con man and a beggar. He even went as far as to impersonate a legless Vietnam War Veteran.
After Billy Ray and Winthorpe have a run in where Billy Ray is accused of trying to steal the company’s payroll, the Duke Brothers bet each other that anyone could be driven to a life of crime under the right circumstances. Yep, it’s the old nature versus nurture debate.
The Brothers arrange for Winthorpe to be arrested while simultaneously bailing Billy Ray out of jail. Billy Ray is whisked away to his new home via limo. He is given a fully furnished home, a king sized bed, and a jacuzzi bathtub. Cut to Winthorp who is now subjected to a strip search and thrown into a cell with a community toilet.
Billy Ray is introduced to Coleman, his new butler that is Winthorpe’s old butler. Since he is actually an employee of the Duke Brothers, it’s in his best interest to keep his mouth shut about the bet. Winthorpe is introduced to Ophelia. She’s the prostitute that was paid to further ruin Winthorpe’s life by kissing and trying to score drugs from him immediately after his fiancé posts bail.
Both Winthorpe and Billy Wray know something isn’t right about this sudden turn of events in their lives. They just can put their fingers on it. You ever have that feeling? I know I have. Trust me this is going somewhere.
Watching the movie this last time reiterated several things to me:
- Circumstance can change in the blink of an eye – No one, at least no one that I know, wakes up in the morning saying, “I think I’ll make a total mess of my life today.” It just sort of happens. Life can go from sugar to sh!t in no time flat. While you don’t know what will happen, you can live in such a way that you are prepared. Winthorpe never thought that he would live a live other than the one he was given.
- No matter your occupation you can prepare for the future – I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with Jamie Lee Curtis that I didn’t like. She brought Ophelia to life for me. She is a prostitute with a plan. She was seemingly dealt a bad hand, but she made the best of it. There were several thousand dollars in investments and Ophelia knew exactly how long she has to continue working as a prostitute to have enough money to retire. That goes to show that saving and investing can be done by anyone. You may need a little help, but you can do it.
- We can accomplish more together than we can alone – Nothing made me happier than the point in the movie that everyone started working together. Billy Ray, Winthorpe, Ophelia, and Coleman wanted to exact revenge on the Dukes as well as make a little money for themselves. From the moment they figured out the Duke Brothers’ plan, they spent countless hours together and found out they actually liked each other. By the end of the movie, they’re even on vacation together.
By the time we make it to the end of the movie, Ophelia and Winthorpe are madly in love, they are all filthy rich, and the lives the Dukes destroy are their own.
If you happen to come across this post and it’s beyond the holidays, give the movie a try anyway. It was originally released in June of 1983 so it’s a comedy for all seasons.
Leave me a comment letting me know how you liked the movie or if there are some life lessons that you picked up on that I missed.
Best of everything,