By Darlene Donloe
Chris Rock has thrown down the gauntlet.
In the past it seemed Rock couldn’t buy a good movie. Critics were tough and his movies were usually panned. That was then, this is now.
This time around, critics can’t say enough good things about his latest film, Top Five, out Dec. 12. The comedy has Rock’s naysayers and haters doing a 180.
This is, by far, Rock’s best work!
Top Five is written, directed and stars Rock, who plays Andre Allen, a New York-based comedian who wants to be taken seriously as a film star. Most of Allen’s popularity came from his successful film as the star of the Hammy the Bear crime-fighting franchise. After three Hammy films, however, Andre has grown tired of the persona and wants to spread his wings.
We meet Allen the day when his slave revolt film called Uprize, which is supposed to showcase his serious acting skills, hits theaters. It’s also the day he is being interviewed by Chelsea Brown, a New York Times reporter played by Rosario Dawson, who is getting up close and personal by spending the day with him. She hits Allen with in-your-face type questions that he’s reluctant to answer because he’s been burned by a New York Times reporter in the past. Their encounter forces Allen to look at his life, confront his demons and own his faults and frailties. An alcoholic, Allen is working his way back to himself and the process isn’t pretty. All of this is taking place just days before he is to wed a popular reality-show star played by Gabrielle Union.
What makes the film exceptional is the feeling of authenticity. It rings true and doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter comedy. It’s an original. It not only shows the pros of being a celebrity, it shows the cons. It shows the shallowness and the ridiculousness that accompanies celebrity.
There are some hilarious performances in this film. Hilarious! Leslie Jones kills! DMX nearly steals the movie. Cedric the Entertainer steals every scene he’s in. He’s flamboyant, fiery and brilliant as the man who can get Allen anything he needs.
(l-r) Rosario Dawson and Chris Rock in Top Five
But it’s Rosario Dawson and Chris Rock’s chemistry that kicks the movie up a notch. Rock delivers a comedic, yet poignant performance as a man whose vulnerability is showing. Dawson, too, gives a noteworthy performance.
The film, a satisfactory transition from stand-up to the big screen, is a bit raunchy, kind of chaotic, but brilliantly funny!
Top Five is written and directed by Chris Rock, who also stars alongside Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah. Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, DMX and Jerry Seinfeld make cameos.
The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West are co-producers. Questlove is the executive music producer.
Top Five opens in theaters nationwide on Fri., December 12. The film is Rated R (for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use). Running time: 1 hr., 41 min.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Top Five get an O (oh, yeah).
TOP FIVE Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jejCmmawzLY&feature=youtu.be
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