Chris Rock’s Top Five was a surprise in many ways. Rock turns in an intelligent, raucous, fast paced comedy with an ensemble of supporting comedians on the cast that make it his best work yet. Rock, who also wrote and directed the film, plays as Andre Allen, a former stand-up comedian who’s been in some stupid but high-grossing films and now wants a serious change. Andre is back in his home town of New York City to promote his first "serious" film, Uprize, about the Haitian slave revolt of 1791. His fans want no part of it but rather want more of the same silliness they have come to know and love, which is Hammy, the crime-fighting bear. It’s clear that Uprize is a horrible movie. Adding fuel to Andre’s frustration is planned wedding to reality-TV star Erica (Gabrielle Union), just as he agrees to an interview with New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown, played by Rosario Dawson.
What follows is an adventure between the two and an exploration of both of their lives and decisions. Rock is seriously funny, intelligent, and witty. He also should be commended for including a star-studded cats with such proven talent as J.B. Smoove as his manager/handler/bodyguard; Kevin Hart as his agent, apparently trying to outdo Quentin Tarantino for use of a certain racial pejorative; and Tracy Morgan as just one of Andre’s funny friends from the hood.
The scenarios are often sexual, over the top, and from time to time, even cute as we see both Rock and Dawson expose the pain and struggle they both have with addition and relationships. Union gets credit for making her character, Erica, and model of fame for fame sake and what she is willing to do to stay in the limelight. The surprise scene stealer was Cedric the Entertainer, who turned in one of his most dynamic performances of his career as a bigger than life street hustler turned hilarious Houston comedy promoter.
I definitely suggest all film aficionados and comedy lovers to check out Top Five, as it may be a comedy classic when we look back at the work of Chris Rock.
Reviewed by Tony C. Lesesne