Is ‘Trading Places’ the ultimate New Year’s Eve movie of the ’80s?


Trading Places is an '80s comedy classic. But which holiday does it honor more properly? Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's? It's time to decide.

Technically, Trading Places – released June 7, 1983 – takes place during all three holidays. Remember Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) getting jostled in jail? ("It ain't cool being no jive turkey this close to Thanksgiving!") Or Louis (Dan Aykroyd) dressed as Santa eating a smoked salmon on a city bus? Surely you haven't forgotten the whole gang together on a train from Philadelphia to New York on New Year's Eve.

So which season should we align it with? Italian TV shows Trading Places every Christmas Eve (while we're still obsessed with A Christmas Story or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation).

The plot of Trading Places can be loosely associated with the plays Pygmalion and My Fair Lady – neither of which has any connection to the winter holidays in their plots. No help there.

But one of Eddie Murphy's most iconic lines of the movie – "Merry New Year!" – definitely helps nudge things closer to Dec. 31.

Ultimately, Trading Places – which is still available to stream online on Netflix – is whatever you want it to be. After all, when it comes to New Year's Eve movies in the '80s, there aren't a lot to choose from. (When Harry Met Sally and …. see my point?)

Here are three more things you probably didn't know about Trading Places as we near the new year:

1. "Duke brothers" Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche admitted they were unfamiliar with Murphy and Aykroyd's work when booked for the movie. Likewise, Murphy and Aykroyd didn't know the work of Bellamy and Ameche.

2. As of at least 2012, Al Franken was still getting royalties from the movie for his small role as a baggage handler.

3. Aykroyd and his on-screen love interest Jamie Lee Curtis also co-star in My Girl (1991), My Girl 2 (1994), and Christmas with the Kranks (2004).

[Listen to the full Trading Places podcast from Stuck in the '80s from 2016.]