Top Five

Movie Review #926

top_five

Wide release on December 12, 2014. Comedy. This film is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use. Runs 102 mins. An American production. Director: Chris Rock. Writer: Chris Rock. Cast: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, J.B. Smoove, Gabrille Union, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Pharoah, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Hart, Charlie Rose, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, and DMX.

THE TITLE SAYS PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING: THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES ALL YEAR.

★★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

Fame has ruined Andre Allen (Chris Rock). He’s lived in the limelight for over a decade, and he’s wanted out for almost as long as he’s been in. He’s struck gold with a trilogy of action-comedies, but he won’t make a fourth film, nor will he return to standup comedy, either. During his time as a successful comic, Andre struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism, and he wants to stay clean for good. But it’s not so simple for Andre. “Top Five” takes place over the most stressful weekend of his life. His highly publicized wedding, the release of his foreseeably unsuccessful new movie, his bachelor party, and a whole slew of interviews all packed into three days. He dreads the reporters more than anything—one of whom prefers to spend the day with Andre in New York City over simply interviewing him. She absorbs every anecdote he can recall to her, not because she wants to write a better article, and not because she’s fond of Andre as a celebrity. She’s fond of him for who he is.

We never expected this movie to come of Chris Rock. The movie plays out in a fashion not unlike “Annie Hall”, and make no mistake, Rock has given the surname Allen to his protagonist. It’s the dialogue and the chemistry of the two leads that fuels this movie in its entirety. Their arguments, their disagreements, their debates, their similarities, their differences, and their struggles. And as we might expect, their interactions offer food for laughter—a lot of it. Rock is at the top of his game in his screenplay: much like in his standup comedy, Rock has an observant eye for humor in every situation he introduces. A lot of these happen to be anecdotes that Rock tells Dawson, or vice-versa. Easily the most memorable is a scenario Dawson describes that involves hot sauce and her boyfriend. That scene, and some others, must be seen to be believed, but so must the whole movie. “Top Five” is an almost self-referential title. It’s truly one of the five best, most surprising, most tremendously feel-good movies of the year. This is Chris Rock’s third time sitting in the director’s chair, and he hasn’t been this good for years.

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