Chris Rock was a staple on many people’s TVs back in the day. It almost seemed like he was everywhere, his career taking off, his comedy making millions laugh, and then poof, disappears. Or at least lays low for years without much of dip into anything relatively mainstream, his biggest hits being the animated Madagascar, and for the sake of embarrassing Rock, I won’t mention the terrible Grown Ups movies. Essentially, Top Five is as much of a comeback for him as much as it is for his character. And I’m happy to say that Rock is back in full comedic form.
Andre Allen (Rock) is trying to make a comeback as an actor. For too long he’s just been considered the funny guy, most famous for his role in Hammy and its two sequels, where he parades around as a cop in a bear suit. Anyone will agree that being called “Hammy” everywhere he goes might get a little more than annoying. So, he’s given up comedy and moved on to doing dramas and, in turn, hopes to get to a place where he’s actually taken seriously by the film industry, the media, and most especially by a scathing critic of his work at the New York Times.
So when the Times sends over Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), a journalist who’s penning a piece about Andre, she challenges him and questions his decisions regarding his career. He’s able to open up to her because they incite complete honesty and he’s forced to look at himself and his ambitions and how far he’s strayed from doing what he’s best at doing: comedy. All this revolves around his day-to-day life and Andre’s upcoming marriage to reality star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), who makes sure that everything he does is all about making her look good.
Essentially, Chris Rock is very much parodying his life in this film. He plays on his own career of late and while it can be construed as a serious look at what’s happened to him, Rock infuses a sense of humor and the ability to poke fun at himself. The fact that he keeps it grounded in some sense of reality makes this film more thought provoking than it ought to be given its genre. The conversations between he and Rosario Dawson’s character infuses a heightened sense of knowing that this is a movie and is still able to be a great parallel.
Rock employs every friend he has in the industry to be a part of this film, and for the most part, they fit in perfectly in well-placed cameos. Kevin Hart’s rant and the appearance of a few comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Cedric the Entertainer, and Whoopi Goldberg are welcome faces and don’t make the film too overbearing with their presence. They appear, but the film never becomes about them, which keeps the balance.
Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson have very good onscreen chemistry. They mirror each other in a lot of ways and Dawson’s character is practically the complete opposite of Gabrielle Union’s character, who’s really good in her role, giving her character a third dimension, but one that’s truthfully sad in her assessment of attention seeking. Dawson and Rock’s characters are also multidimensional and, in addition to the comedic moments, are given really tangible and genuine moments.
Ultimately, Chris Rock’s comeback to the world of comedy is sincerely solid. He pokes fun at himself, his career, but doesn’t use his own name just so no one takes anything quite too literally, yet the literal aspect is still very much there. Chris Rock is ambitious as he writes, directs, and stars in his own film, but the ambition pays off. There is some sweet romance in there, but the comedy is at the film’s forefront.Rock makes great points about his career, the entertainment industry, and the life of a celebrity without hitting us over the head with it. Rock has brought himself back in a big and memorable way and really exemplifies what a comeback should look like. A great cast, a good script, and genuinely funny moments, Top Five
is definitely entertaining and hopefully the beginning of more Chris Rock films in the future. One this definitely clear: it’s good to have Chris Rock back.
Release Date: December 12, 2014 | Director: Chris Rock | Screenwriter: Chris Rock | Cast: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, Cedric the Entertainer, Hayley Marie Norman, J.B. Smoove, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan | Genre: Comedy | MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use