Top Five (2014)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Chris Rock
Written by: Chris Rock
Produced by: IAC Films
Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan, Jay Pharoah, JB Smoove, Hassan Johnson, Anders Holm
Chris Rock is a talented figure that so often does not get the credit he deserves. His latest effort as a director; TOP FIVE is one of the best films of 2014 and some of Rock’s best work to date. Rock is influenced by many filmmakers; primarily Woody Allen, but he never allows for that to define TOP FIVE, it is his own piece and is better for it.
Andre Allen (Rock) is marketing his directoral debut (an absurd film in its own right, about an African slave who instigated a rebellion and slaughtered white men, whenever its feature on screen there are plenty of laughs to be had). More attention is being paid to his upcoming marriage to his reality star wife (Gabrielle Union). He is trying to break free of his “funny man” image and is finding trouble. The film follows Allen around for a day as he’s interviewed by Chelsea (Rosario Dawson, who was unfairly snubbed by Oscar).
Rock has a creative voice that is both irreverent and hilarious, whether it's a scene involving Anders Holm and a tampon covered in hot sauce, or a ridiculous cameo by Cedric the Entertainer, his screenplay is raunchy, and slightly out of control, with 90% of the jokes landing with relative ease.
In the relationship between Andre and Chelsea Rock employs all of the best aspects of a work by Woody Allen. Their dialogue is witty, has a lot to say about the state of cinema and of the media as it stands now, and is buoyed by Rock and Dawson’s electric chemistry together.
The supporting cast is rich as well. They include cameos by Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler (he’s good, don’t worry!), and Whoopi Goldberg as themselves (The image of Jerry Seinfeld tossing money at strippers is worth the price of admission alone). Not playing themselves are Tracy Morgan, Jay Pharoah (from Saturday Night Live), and Hassan Johnson (Wee-bey from The Wire). The three, along with a few others, follow Andre around talking about their “Top Five” (their top five favorite rappers). They’re all very funny, standing out is Morgan, whom has a naturally funny face and voice. He brings the best of himself into the film.
TOP FIVE is not without its flaws. It might be about 10 minutes too long, and the ending starts to veer into cliché, but these aren’t deal-breakers. I sincerely hope this is a sign of a career resurgence for Rock, maybe if they let him write and direct the crap Happy Madison churns out periodically we might get a different result.
P.S. My top five are (in no particular order) Kendrick Lamar, Raekwon, The Based God, Nas, and Mr Lif.
Suggestion: See it