THEY’RE NOT JUST GETTING RICH… THEY’RE GETTING EVEN.
Two wealthy brothers (Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche) make a wager where they scheme to have two men (one rich, one poor) switch places in life – what will be the outcome? An old formula for this comedy, but in the hands of John Landis it still feels moderately fresh. This is because the film was part of Eddie Murphy’s astounding breakthrough, the one he made after 48HRS. (1982), featuring another hilarious turn, this time as a street hustler. His first scene, where he’s pretending to be a handicapped Vietnam vet, is a minor classic. Denholm Elliott is another standout in a first-rate cast. The film’s brassy tone is an effective contrast against the Christmas setting.
1983-U.S. 116 min. Color. Produced by Aaron Russo. Directed by John Landis. Screenplay: Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod. Music: Elmer Bernstein. Cast: Dan Aykroyd (Louis Winthorpe III), Eddie Murphy (Billy Ray Valentine), Ralph Bellamy (Randolph Duke), Don Ameche (Mortimer Duke), Denholm Elliott, Jamie Lee Curtis… Jim Belushi, Al Franken.
Trivia: First conceived as a vehicle for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
Quote: “Heey! This is all right! When I was a kid, we wanted bubbles, we had to fart in the tub!” (Murphy using a jacuzzi for the first time)
BAFTA: Best Supporting Actor (Elliott), Supporting Actress (Curtis).
Last word: “I knew Danny [Aykroyd] well, having worked with him, and I knew Danny was a fine actor, and he could easily play this guy. Danny, he’s an actor: You tell him what you want, and he delivers. And I thought he’d be wonderful. So he reduced his price quite a bit, and I got him, so I had Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, and [the studio heads] were upset because Danny hadn’t — his last couple of pictures hadn’t done well, and Eddie was still an unknown really. ‘48 Hours’ came out while we were shooting…” (Landis, Business Insider)