Do They Know It’s Christmas? — Day Four
Christmas Connection: A pivotal scene takes place during an office Christmas party. And one could reasonably argue that Jamie Lee Curtis’ breasts bring joy to the world.
One of the benefits of having worked for an online stock broker — aside from being laid off in the wake of 9/11 — was finally being able to understand just what the hell happens at the end of Trading Places. It’s not essential to enjoying the film to know just what’s going on — it’s enough to know that the good guys pulled some financial maneuver and ruined the bad guys — but let me tell you, watching this after I’d crammed for and passed my Series 7 test, it was like a light went on. I have to admit, I became a little insufferable after that, forcing my friends to listen to me explain the climax: “Hey, congrats on the new baby! So, at the end of Trading Places…”
This is probably my favorite Eddie Murphy movie, mostly because it forces him to actually play a character rather than simply relying on him being Eddie Murphy. Not that he doesn’t have his moments, but it feels here like his antics are in service to the story rather than the entire basis for it. Despite having been a teenager at the height of his fame, I never really got into Murphy all that much; I’d written off Saturday Night Live by that point, and I was too busy worshiping at the altar of Spielberg to pay much attention to anything that didn’t have the Amblin logo in front of it, so Buckwheat and Beverly Hills Cop were never big touchstones for me, at least not until well after the fact.
It’s also a little sad watching Dan Aykroyd in this, knowing he had maybe one or two more really good comedic performances in him before his long fallow period in the late 80s. He’d do Ghostbusters and Spies Like Us, and then it was on board the Suck Express, with stops at Caddyshack II, The Couch Trip, The Great Outdoors, My Step-Mother is an Alien, Loose Cannons, and I’m just going to stop right now because I’m starting to feel bad for the guy.
I could go on about the film, but I’m starting to feel the urge to explain short sales and margin calls, and I’m not about to undo years of hard work and discipline by going down that route.
Do They Know It’s Christmas?: They know it, they just don’t seem to like it very much. Aykroyd disguises himself as perhaps the worst Santa ever to crash his office Christmas party in order to plant drugs and discredit Murphy, and we’re treated to him eating pilfered salmon on a subway train while nearly swallowing half his beard in the process. Then he puts a gun to his head and eventually tries to overdose on pills. Merry freakin’ Christmas indeed.