Trading Places appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I’ve seen enough Eighties comedies to know that most look a lot alike. They tend to appear drab and bland, and I expected Places to follow suit. However, I felt pleasantly surprised by the consistently positive picture offered on this DVD.
Sharpness seemed quite strong. Virtually no examples of softness appeared, as the movie always came across as nicely crisp and detailed. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I did notice a little bit of minor edge enhancement on a few occasions. In regard to print flaws, Places looked pretty clean. Some light grain showed up at times, and I also noticed a few examples of grit and specks, but the vast majority of Places appeared nicely fresh.
As I alluded, most Eighties comedies showed flat colors, but that didn’t occur during Places. The movie featured a naturalistic palette, and the DVD replicated those hues with surprising fidelity. The tones came across as nicely bright and vivid, and they always looked tight and rich. Really, the colors were almost a revelation; I really didn’t expect anything this terrific. Black levels also seemed very deep and dense, while shadow detail usually appeared appropriately opaque. However, as with many movies that mix white and black actors, the dark-skinned performers often get the short shrift; some low-light situations that involve them appeared a bit too thick. Despite that, Trading Places usually presented an excellent image that just narrowly slipped down from “A” level.
I also found some pleasant surprises when I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Trading Places. While the soundfield didn’t provide a slam-bang experience, it opened up the spectrum pretty nicely. The forward domain showed very good stereo imaging for the music, and it also spread ambient effects well. The material created a decent sense of atmosphere, and elements moved cleanly across the domain. The rear speakers added a fine general sense of setting, and I even heard some split-surround information. Some of those moments worked well - such as when vehicles traveled from rear to front - but a few came across as artificial. For example, during the scene in which the cops uncovered Valentine’s fraud, I heard some odd blips from the rear speakers; it sounded like those were meant to provide a sense of atmosphere, but they didn’t make much sense. Nonetheless, the soundfield usually worked quite well.
Audio quality also seemed pretty impressive for the most part. Dialogue generally sounded natural and warm. I noticed a few examples of a little edginess, but those occasions occurred infrequently, and I discerned no issues related to intelligibility. Effects appeared clean and accurate. They played a fairly small role in this comedy, but they came across as well defined and showed no issues related to distortion. I felt most impressed with the reproduction of the score. The music seemed wonderfully bright and vivid, and it also demonstrated excellent dynamics considering the age of the material. Even the dance tunes heard during Valentine’s party appeared vibrant and lively, and the bass seemed deep and tight. Overall, the audio of Trading Places lacked the ambition to merit “A”-level consideration, but I still felt surprisingly impressed with the film’s soundtrack.
How did the picture and sound of this 2007 release compare to those of the original 2002 DVD? Both offered identical audio and very similar – but not identical – transfers. I checked out the 2002 disc again for this review and noticed some of the source defects differed. A few flaws showed up for both images, but some didn’t. In any case, these remained minor, and the two transfers ultimately looked a whole lot alike.
While the old 2002 disc included no extras at all, the 2007 “Looking Good, Feeling Good Edition” presents a smattering of supplements. A subtitle commentary appears via Trivia Pop-Ups. Throughout the film, we get text about cast and crew, sets and locations, clothes and props, story elements and changes from the script, real-life influences, explanations of movie components, and other trivia.
This track offers a nice look at the film. We find plenty of interesting facts along the way. Most of these do fall into the “trivia” category, so don’t expect a full discussion of the movie’s creation. However, the notes prove fun and illuminating, so the “Pop-Ups” are well worth your time.
Most of these come from some featurettes. Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places lasts 18 minutes, 27 seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival elements and interviews. We hear from director John Landis, screenwriters Herschel Weingrod and Tim Harris, executive producer George Folsey, Jr., and actors Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Eddie Murphy. The show looks at the project’s origins, story and script, casting and performances, some favorite scenes and memories of the shoot.
Don’t expect a very detailed look at the film’s creation from “Insider”, as it stays pretty superficial and anecdotes. Nonetheless, it throws out some good notes and entertains along the way. Some of the info repeats from the trivia track, but we get a reasonable amount of new material in this enjoyable show.
For the seven-minute and 58-second Trading Stories, we get comments from Landis, Curtis, Murphy, and Aykroyd. Taken from 1983 sessions to publicize the movie, they discuss aspects of their careers and a little about the flick. These prove surprisingly interesting, as they offer a nice contrast to the more modern interviews.
One Deleted Scene fills three minutes, nine seconds. It shows us how Beeks steals the crop report. While that makes it a decent piece of plot exposition, the sequence itself is way too long and slow to make sense in the film. We can view it with or without commentary from Folsey. He explains where it would’ve gone in the movie and why it got cut. Folsey’s remarks are useful, though he seems to think it’s a good scene, and I don’t agree with that.
Dressing the Part goes for six minutes, 30 seconds, and features Landis, Aykroyd, Curtis and costume designer Deborah Nadoolman. We get notes about the clothes used in the movie and the purposes the served in the flick. This offers a quick but very informative glimpse into the thoughts behind the costumes.
During the five-minute and 24-second The Trade in Trading Places, we locate remarks from Weingrod, Landis, New York Board of Trade vice chairman Roger Corrado, proprietary trader Bret Williams, and New York Mercantile Exchange chairman Richard Schaeffer. They discuss the business elements of the movie and tell us how these factors work in real life. The text commentary does some of this as well, but “Trade” offers a nice primer on the business aspects in the story.
Something unusual comes our way with an Industry Promotional Piece. It lasts four minutes and 17 seconds as it shows a promo created to tout the film at an exhibitor’s convention. We see Murphy and Aykroyd improvise a bit to sell the flick. It’s amusing and this is a cool extra.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Dreamgirls, Norbit, and other Eddie Murphy efforts. These also appear in the disc’s Previews area. No trailer for Places shows up here.
More than 20 years after its initial release, Trading Places remains a reasonably charming and amusing piece of work. While the flick doesn’t excel at much, it maintains a nice sense of lightness and humor that allows it to succeed. The DVD provides surprisingly solid picture and sound along with a mix of pretty enjoyable extras.
I like Places and recommend it. If you don’t own the DVD already, definitely go for this new “Looking Good, Feeling Good” edition. However, if you do have the 2002 release, only “upgrade” if you want to get the extras. Both visuals and audio seem very similar for the two discs, so you won’t find improvements in those domains. The new supplements are fun, though, and worth a look.
To rate this film visit the original review of TRADING PLACES