My Take – Frankly I haven’t seen much of Chris Rock movies, actually not even a single solo film comes to my mind (well Grown Up movies don’t count), still having seen some of his best stand up shows, this movie ended up in my watch list. Mainly because this time he writes, directs, and producers his own star vehicle that promises to live up to the comedy spectacular that is Chris Rock & he partially gets it right! The story follows Andre Allen (Chris Rock), a comic star who doesn’t want to do funny movies anymore (he’s been “Hammy the Bear” for three films), and has a new, serious work where he plays a Haitian white-man-killing revolutionary. He’s spending this one day going around New York city, promoting the film, visiting his family, doing this and that, and he’s tagged along by a journalist (Rosario Dawson), who wants a personal-profile scoop. Around the same time he is mainly frustrated as the media is providing more coverage to his high profile wedding to reality star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) than his movie.
He’s not having it, at first, but over the course of a day and night and lots of memories of things gone wrong – he was/is an alcoholic, as she is, conveniently enough – he opens up. Rock gets it right with a satire about being a funny man, turned actor who after finding success, fears going back to comedy because he’s fears not being funny, but finds a spark in a Times writer who follows him around all day to get to know the man behind the fame. Although, a lot of the movie is a cliche you seen plenty of times in the past, it’s heighten by the fact that the filmmaker is Rock himself who’s not afraid to share the comedy spotlight with his friends who make funny appearances. From the always funny Kevin Hart who held it down, to Cedric the Entertainer whose funny moment in the trailer was just a small part of his overall funny cameo, plus a few other hilarious cameos from his friends I would not want to spoil. Like most stand-up comedian based movie actors, he acts rather poorly compared to when he’s joking. But the dramatization of Allen has to get drunk or high or both to be funny felt just way far from the real Chris judging from his image cultivated all this time. Seriously, he has to get high or drunk or both to get into his most famous character so far? A lot of the film also hinges on Rock and Dawson, and despite a third act reveal (is it a twist?) that made me roll my eyes, their chemistry really sells much of the film. He has just great dialog for the two of them to play off one another, so that we can still buy *them* even if not always the story or situations that develop. Even with all those tons of cameos, this movie still is not that good of an entertainment.
The jokes are funny, but they seem to be either too segmented or too ordinary to crack much laughter from me. Sometimes it’s very funny – I’d be remiss to forget that Seinfeld and Adam Sandler show up at a bachelor party and had me crying laughing – and that helps it make it just an unabashed crowd-pleaser first, cutting satire second, which I think was really Rock’s goal here. Among the performances – Chris Rock does not disappoint. His chemistry with the evocative and beautiful Rosario Dawson (sheer underrated talent) was the highlight of the film by far. They work off each other very well, which makes it all the more surprising that the rest of the cast had such limited material and didn’t have their chance to truly mesh with Rock. Even Cedric the Entertainer and his amazing portrayal of a Houston freewheeler didn’t contribute much. Chris Rock does indeed have the ability to run a movie, but boy did I wish more!! On the whole ‘Top Five’ may seem like a funnier version of Birdman (2014), but indeed its more, maybe that’s why it partially succeeds as it never gets to realize its full potential & falls down into the category of films Chris Rock is apparently know for.
Director – Chris Rock
Rated – R
Run Time – 102 minutes