REVIEW — “Top Five”
Plot Synopsis from IMDB: A comedian (Chris Rock) tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancée (Gabrielle Union) talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.
“Top Five” is one of the best films Chris Rock has been in in two decades, and he happened to write and direct this one. He has a keen eye for comedy, but not as good of one at story telling. What could have just been a hilarious comedy is watered down with forced scenes of weak exposition and character development, and the plot is shallow to begin with. An amazingly talented supporting cast (filled with hilarious cameos) surround a lackluster Rock as our lead, and help propel the film to success.
Might as well start with the story. Basically we are looking at a quasi-remake of Adam Sandler’s “Funny People,” but this time it actually works. That being said, it’s still weak. Chris Rock plays someone who is only known for his comedic work, and when he gives up booze and attempts to do more serious work, no one will take him seriously. The entire script is a ‘boo-hoo i’m famous’ story, and it just doesn’t sit well. Between critic bashing, continuous barrages of fans screaming to him from across the street (something I assume is a very real ‘issue’ they deal with), and the countless amounts of money we watch him spend we are meant to feel bad for him. They give us this ‘poor me’ back story about struggles with addiction in a mediocre attempt to make us sympathize with him, and it all around falls kind of flat. The comedic aspects of the story are perfect, but it’s the forced emotional drama between these bits that slow things down.
The cast is, hands down, the best part. Chris Rock, obviously, leads this ensemble of comedic talents, and as per usual delivers in Chris Rock fashion. He lacks acting talent, but as a stand-up comedian can still deliver lines. His supporting cast are what carry his unmentionable acting to the finish line, and they do so with gusto. Rosario Dawson is as talented and gorgeous as ever, and makes me question why we aren’t seeing her in more flicks as a lead. Cedric the Entertainnier, who I usually loathe, managed to deliver a more than memorable performance (gross), and the rest of Rock’s celebrity friends contribute in a big way as well. J.B. Smoove and the surprise cameos really had me laughing my butt off. I wish I could talk all about one prison scene in particular, and you’ll know it once you see it, but that had me in stitches!
As a whole “Top Five” lacked proper heart as the story itself was very shallow and without merit. The comedy worked great, but the forced drama/emotion dragged it down, and I have no sympathy for people that choose to be in that career, and the public attention they get. As a writer and director Chris Rock did a fantastic job. This is one of his best films in two decades, and he was primarily in charge of the entire thing. The excellent supporting cast and the hilarious moments make this one a must-see. Be warned that it is very R-rated. Crude humor, excessive cursing, and nudity are rampant throughout, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 4/5