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Trading Places, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 592

Essay

Introduction

The film Trading Places is a comedy that focuses on the lives of two men, one rich and one poor, whose lives are unknowingly switched as part of a test to determine success or failure in these new roles. This film, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, depicts the challenges that individuals face as they are suddenly thrust into unforeseen circumstances for which they lack the understanding and wherewithal to make sense of their new lives. The film is humorous and raunchy at times and enables the viewer to have a greater sense of personal identity and discovery in order to recognize personal cultural expectations and needs. At the same time, the film supports the elements of basic survival and the necessity to make decisions on the fly without recognizing the potential consequences.

Body

Trading Places represents a shift in culture for two men, who essentially swap positions and are forced into new realities without recognizing the true impact of these new living conditions. For example, when the Black man is thrust into the limelight with power and riches galore, there is a culture shock of sorts, but quickly after, he gains respect in his new surroundings. On the other hand, the story depicts the formerly rich White man as struggling in his new environment and without the riches that he is accustomed to. The film pokes fun at the stark contrasts between the two men and capitalizes on cultural diversity as the brunt of many of the jokes. For example, the film depicts Louis Winthorp III, the formerly rich but now destitute White man, as not only ignorant, but less than intelligent, and in response to his dilemma, he makes fun of Billy Ray Valentine, the suddenly rich but formerly poor Black man who has seemingly taken over his life. The film depicts many stereotypes involving color in a humorous manner, some of which are inappropriate yet hysterical. The film sought to poke fun of both races and cultures but also mend fences as the two men begin to recognize that they are not really all that different, as they are both insecure and lack confidence in their own skin. The film teaches a lesson regarding the impact of wealth and riches and how it changes people, sometimes for the better and other times in a negative manner. In particular, Winthorp’s belief that he is superior to Valentine takes a dramatic turn as he is forced into an unthinkable situation. However, this is only when he finally begins to recognize that his life was empty and unfulfilling in many ways, and from these experiences, he is able to make much more of his life and his experiences to    have a new attitude and a new lease on life.

Conclusion

The relationship that evolves between Winthorp and Valentine is one of the hallmark symbols of Trading Places, as the actors represent their characters well with much humor. This film depicts the events that taken place when two men from very different worlds experience culture shock and switch places. The film tells the story not only with humor, but also great heart as the audience gains sympathy for both characters for different reasons. This film tells an age-old story of rich versus poor and the vulnerabilities of life with a very humorous approach and tone that demonstrates how culture is only one part of the human experience. This film is funny and endearing because it puts smiles on the faces of its viewers through the actors’ engaging chemistry and performances as they face many funny situations.

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