In today’s comedic world, most filmmakers have to get a laugh by making some dirty joke or showing some disgusting bodily harm to their audiences.
Most stand-up comics would probably follow the same protocol if given the opportunity to make a movie, but in “Top Five,” Chris Rock shows he’s one of the few who can deliver standup in a normal motion picture format.
In the film, Rock plays a comedian who is trying to move on from his stand-up comic and bad comedy movie days to become a serious actor, all the while dealing with his reality-TV star fiancée turning their wedding into a ratings bonanza for her, but a nightmare for him.
The events in the film all take place in the timeframe of one day, as Rock’s character goes to different interviews and press conferences to promote his new serious film, while being followed by a “New York Times” writer, played by Rosario Dawson, doing a profile on him.
Throughout the film, Rock has thoughtful and smart discussions with Dawson’s character, touching on matters of race, politics, sexuality, and relationships as though he’s performing one of his stand-up shows.
Rock proves his comedic writing talents are still alive and kicking, and in his third directorial job, he continues to show his talent behind the camera as well.
In addition to the comedic talents in the lead role and behind the camera, the supporting ensemble cast is fantastic, bringing their own skills to each of their roles, whether they be major supporting, minor supporting, or cameos.
Cedric the Entertainer and Anders Holm bring the gross-out moments today’s audiences love; DMX, Whoopi Goldberg, and Adam Sandler actually bring out some of the more insightful moments in the film’s script; Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union illustrate the more materialistic nature of people today; lastly, Tracy Morgan and Michael Che bring the more sentimental and flaws-of-America that Rock cleverly incorporates into the movie.
One of the better aspects in the film is related directly to the title, “Top Five.” The title refers to the characters in the film picking their top five rappers/rap groups of all-time throughout the film.
The characters’ choices are both smart and at times funny, especially Jerry Seinfeld’s mid-credits listing. While it is a little disappointing to hear them leave out Wu-Tang Clan and N.W.A. in their lists, the characters do live in New York, so it makes sense they’d leave out west coast rappers and groups (even if Wu-Tang is east coast).
The way Rock discusses the problems of working in the comedic world of show business and the troubles moving to more serious work definitely feels like it hits close to home for Rock, as lately he’s been more associated to critical failures that are commercial successes, such as Grown Ups 2.
But with this smart, hilarious, no-holds barred dramedy, it appears Rock not only can slowly move out of the comedic genre, he can blend the two genres so perfectly that “Top Five” breathes new life into his already great career.