A snobbish investor and a wily street con-artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.
The Prince and the Pauper with Eddie & Dan on sparkling form.
Mortimer & Randolph Duke are two repugnantly rich brothers, they make a bet that sees the role reversal of top toff yuppie, Louis Winthorpe, and wise cracking street hustler bum, Billy Ray Valentine. That's about the strength of the films plot, yet it makes for a very funny film that crackles with glee due to it's excellently written script. Watching the respective characters rise and fall respectively creates laughs aplenty whilst asking the question of how we all would cope in similar circumstances?
Sure the film does beat one over the head with its social message, we are in no doubt from the off about the gap between the rich and the poor, and yes the colour of a persons skin also rears its ugly head here to make this one of the more braver comedies of the 80s. Billy Ray Valentine (a brilliant dual performance from Eddie Murphy) is elevated up the social ladder, he becomes a force in industry, but as the progression enthrals him it also makes him aware that the things at the top end of the ladder aren't exactly stand up doings. Winthorpe (a perfectly casted Dan Ackroyd) drops further down the social ladder and resorts to behaviour that nobody from the upper echelons could ever have dreamed he would be capable of - it's only an encounter with prostitute Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis at the peak of her sexiness), and her good heart, that starts to see an upturn in his now dead bottom fortunes.
The gags come thick and fast, both verbally (Murphy on fire) and visually, as the film sees the whole cast fusing together to create a cracking comedy. Come the denouement on Wall Street we are privy to a joyous and savage turn of events that ice the clever Christmas cake we have just digested. It does have an 80s sheen about it, and viewing now in post 9/11 times it's got a tint of nostalgia value to it, but really it's all about the script, the stars and a kick in the eye for those who think nothing of treading on the people below them, enjoy. 8/10
Cinema Group Ventures, Paramount by John Landis, Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod.
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche.
Keywords: philadelphia, pennsylvania christmas party christmas tree rags to riches broker beggar wager fish out of water millionaire commodities investor big shot hoodlum wrongful arrest gorilla costume riches to rags santa claus costume
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