An executive and a con man figure in a plan by two tycoons to determine whether heredity or environment makes the man. In a one-dollar bet about heredity vs. environment, however, the two old millionaires decided to reverse the situation of the two men.
Eddie Murphy is Billy Ray Valentine – a glib street hustler who switches roles with Louis Winthorpe III, a prissy, stuffed-shirt commodities trader (Dan Aykroyd).
Faster than a speeding Metroliner, the old tycoons have Billy Ray blissed out in an $80,000-a-year executive job replete with Winthorpe’s luxury townhouse, mile-long limo and personal butler.
Simultaneously, they strip Winthorpe of his elegant clothes, frame him for embezzlement, jail him for dealing drugs, freeze his bank accounts, and cancel his credit cards.
Billy Ray turns out to be a smash selling pork bellies on the stock market, while poor Winthorpe sinks so low even mongrels relieve themselves on his leg, confusing him with a fire hydrant.
Finally, the hardworking, loyal executive-turned-bum and the hopeless psychopath turned Wall Street whiz kid both realise they are puppets, victimised by the bilious tycoons who are pulling their strings.
Then it’s full speed ahead as the two pool their talents, their education in the school of hard knocks, and their thirst for revenge, and turn the tables on Bellamy and Ameche.
Aided by grand British actor Denholm Elliott, as the bewildered but good-natured butler, and a sleek and very very sexy Jamie Lee Curtis, in the best role of her career as a tough whore with a pure heart, Aykroyd and Murphy learn who their real friends are and stage their final showdown on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Nobody takes this much care over a mainstream comedy film any more!
Billy Ray Valentine
Louis Winthorpe III
Jamie Lee Curtis