Genre: Christmas, Comedy.
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristin Holby, Paul Gleason.
Year Of Release: 1983
Certificate: 15 (UK)/R-Rated (US)
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Director: John Landis
Synopsis: “A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.” IMDB
A Christmas classic as much as ‘Die Hard’ is – catering for adults, and shying away from sickly sentiment and magical offerings, because there are presents, Christmas trees and a festive chill in the air, there is plenty of adult humour, foul language and brilliant acting to make this very enjoyable all round.
With a winning performance by Eddie Murphy, at his peak of verbal and physical comedy playing the foul-mouthed but ultimately decent hearted Billy Ray Valentine, you couldn’t get someone better to go up against the mirror image; well spoken, snobbish and clean cut Dan Aykroyd. Both on fine comical form, but Murphy has more room to act the fool and steal the show.
Playing out like ‘The Prince And The Pauper’ almost, we have a film of the time when it was more than just social hierarchy that divided people, it was also the colour of skin, which is played on perfectly for Murphy as the “negro” suspected of doing everything wrong compared to the upper-crust “white” man.
It’s certainly a film of the era, but works perfect because of this and dishes out many laughs in a time when the P.C brigade wasn’t so strict as it is now.
With stellar support from the old slimy bastards Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche who provide some wonderful laughs with their devious plot to corner the stock market with an equally slimy and foul mouthed Paul Gleason, giving way to a finale that allows everyone to come together in a battle of wits, we also have a stunning Jamie Lee Curtis who is on top form here as a very sweet and caring prostitute.
Also, the inimitable charm of the late Denholm Elliott never fails to bolster the upper echelon of the well off.
It’s well paced, has lots of physical and visual comedy as both ends of the social scale come together and get turned on their heads for plenty of fish-out-of-water situations that deal with everyone from pushing drugs, pimping out girls and deciding what price to sell pork bellies; how Murphy and Aykroyd turn their characters around is equally amusing and shows how great they are together and solo.