Will There Ever Be A Trading Places 2? Here's What We Know

With the recent "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" and Tom Cruise heading back to the Danger Zone in "Top Gun: Maverick" next year, it looks like our current '80s love-in is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it looks set to intensify, with a whole bunch of remakes also in the pipeline, from "The Toxic Avenger" to "The Lost Boys," and even "Silent Night, Deadly Night." With the decade providing such a rich vein of material for the studios, you have to wonder: When will they get around to reviving "Trading Places" with a sequel or reboot?

The 1983 comedy hit from John Landis starred "Saturday Night Live" alumni Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as a wily street hustler and an upper crust twit (respectively) who find themselves inhabiting each other's lives thanks to the schemes of two dastardly millionaires. Playing like a modern screwball comedy, "Trading Places" utilized two stars on the rise and the chemistry between Murphy and Aykroyd is fantastic. The cracking cast also includes Jamie Lee Curtis as a prostitute, Denholm Elliot as a snooty butler, and Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche as the Statler and Waldorf-like villains of the piece. 

While the film is widely regarded as one of the greatest American comedies of all time, "Trading Places" has been subject to some modern reassessment in recent years. Does that mean it's time for a sequel?

What Happens in Trading Places?

In "Trading Places," DanAykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe III, a chinless, wealthy, well-bred managing director of Duke and Duke, a commodity brokerage firm in Philadelphia. He's engaged to Penelope, the grand-niece of the company's two filthy rich owners, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, played with relish by Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche. Rich and bored, they make a bet to settle an argument about Nature vs Nurture, having witnessed an incident between Winthorpe and a street hustler, Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy). Winthorpe assumes Valentine is trying to mug him, resulting in Valentine getting busted.

To conduct their experiment, the Duke Brothers arrange for Winthorpe to lose his job, get busted for drugs and thrown in jail, and then have his accounts frozen. They also hire Opheila (Jamie Lee Curtis), a somewhat cliché hooker with a heart of gold, to proposition him at a very inconvenient moment in front of Penelope. Meanwhile, they also arrange to spring Valentine from jail and install him in Winthorpe's swanky home and, more importantly, his high profile job at the company.

Valentine learns about finance and uses his street savvy to succeed in his new job, while the disgraced, jobless, homeless, and now-single Winthorpe's life spirals out of control. Despite Valentine's talents at making money, he ends up back on the street after the Dukes have settled their bet. They have no intention of reinstating Winthorpe either. But Winthorpe and Valentine hatch a plan to bankrupt the conniving Duke brothers as revenge while both getting rich themselves.

Has Trading Places Aged Well?

Like many other '80s favorites, certain aspects of "Trading Places" haven't aged well at all. As part of their revenge plan, Winthorpe dons blackface and disguises himself as a dreadlocked stoner, complete with a toe-curling Jamaican accent. Some argue that it's part of the plot and Murphy was on board with it, but I don't think that excuses it. He could have disguised himself as literally anything, but he chose to go blackface for laughs. 

It's pretty awkward sitting through those scenes almost 40 years later, but this moment is very much of its time. There were plenty of crude racial stereotypes in mainstream Hollywood movies during this time. Infamously, C. Thomas Howell wore blackface in "Soul Man," and then there's the whole Long Duk Dong character in "Sixteen Candles," among many others.

There is a counter-argument that despite the blackface and the use of racial epithets, the central thesis of "Trading Places" is we are all humans just as capable of success given the right circumstances, no matter the color of our skin. The only thing keeping Valentine down is greedy old racists like the Duke Brothers. They don't want him running their business, even though they know he would make a damn good job of it, just because he is Black.

Aside from that, there is also the tired old hooker with the heart of gold trope which doesn't give Curtis much room to develop a character for Ophelia. And let's not forget the questionable moment when it is implied that the Duke's seedy security expert, Bleeks (Paul Gleason), gets raped by a gorilla.

Will There Be a Trading Places 2?

Taking all that into account, is there any room for a "Trading Places" sequel? Well, technically, the movie has already had two sequels of sorts. Firstly, the Duke Brothers made a brief cameo in Landis and Murphy's later hit, "Coming to America." There is a small scene when Prince Akeem (Murphy) hands a wad of cash to a homeless guy, who turns out to be Mortimer Duke, who rouses his brother Randolph from the makeshift shelter they're living in to show him the money. The scene concludes with Randolph gleefully saying, "Mortimer, we're back!"

This means that "Trading Places" and "Coming to America" are part of the same cinematic universe, with Murphy playing different characters in each film. It's pretty meta stuff, with Akeem unwittingly giving the Dukes the means to claw their way back after Valentine broke them in the earlier movie. 

We later find out that the Dukes were able to rebuild their business empire in the form of D&D Digital in "Coming 2 America," when we get a further update on the greedy old men's fortunes. We see Akeem's son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) going for a job interview at the company, where he is patronized and generally demeaned by Calvin Duke (played by Colin Jost), the grandson of crotchety old Randolph. 

Otherwise, there's nothing else on the horizon for "Trading Places" to be rebooted or revived in a sequel. Fans will have to make do with those little Easter eggs to satisfy their cravings. But Hollywood is bound to run out of '80s classics to remake, reboot, or give a belated sequel eventually, so it may just be a matter of time.