Chris Rock Top Five Review: Must See Movie
Who’s in your Top Five? The name of Chris Rock’s hilarious new romantic comedy is derived from a heavily debate topic in hip hop that is argued from coast to coast in true hip hop circles. Names like Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas and even the occasional Andre 3000 are often thrown out there. True hip hop heads, like Chris Rock, can go back to MCs like Rakim, Slick Rick, or Big Daddy Kane and make sure there’s an influence on that list. It’s a language, and the conversation connects the audience. It can also be hella funny.
In the movie Top Five, that conversation of who makes the list on your favorite top five rappers is a recurring one that gets sprinkled throughout the story. But don’t get it twisted, that’s not what this movie is about. This romantic comedy is a Cinderella story of sorts. A rich successful Hollywood star meets a struggling writer (who lives with her mom and daughter) and over the course of one day, they fall for each other. Sounds simple enough, right? But love is never that easy.
The film stars Chris Rock as Andre Allen opposite Rosario Dawson as Chelsea Brown, a journalist assigned to write a story on Allen for a publication that has trashed him recently. See, Andre is a comedian who is promoting a film that his audience isn’t really interested in, and another writer has criticized him so much that he wouldn’t watch his movies if they “were playing in my glasses.” Now, Andre’s promoting a “serious” film about the Haitian revolution (not so serious, remember, this is a comedy), which is hard since his most successful career role happens to be a police bear named Hammie The Bear.
Complicating things even more, Rock’s character is engaged to reality TV star Erica Long, played by Gabrielle Union. His beautiful, glamorous, and expensive fiancé will do anything for ratings, and every scene in their relationship must be played out for TV. Though Allen is bothered by it, the upcoming TV wedding is best press he’s got.
Throughout the day, Allen and Brown learn more about each others personal lives (both Allen and Brown are recovering alcoholics, adding a different spin to what would otherwise be a simple narrative), and Chelsea’s interview forces Andre to question his own decisions (getting married, career). Flashbacks on how he got to where he is in his career provide great comedic scenes for the film—most memorably, Cedric The Entertainer’s role as a “janky promoter” from Houston. As a matter of fact, comedians run rampant in Top Five, with everyone from Tracy Morgan to Kevin Hart to JB Smoove to Whoopi Goldberg to Adam Sandler and Jerry Seinfeld, popping in for brief cameos that add to the movie’s funny.
Brown’s story revolves around why Allen won’t just be what everyone else wants him to be. Funny. And while his career has come a long way since his early standup, Allen wants to contribute other things. Sound familiar? I won’t spoil the film by telling you what happens or whether or not they end up together, but you get the gist of it.
Channeling his inner Woody Allen (don’t worry, only the movie part of Woody), Chris Rock wrote and directed Top Five, proving that he’s got more to offer Hollywood than just jokes. Thankfully, what makes this film so special is the writing. The script is both smart and entertaining, with a political and philosophical perspective that compliments the everyday subject matter, in the same way that a conversation about your favorite top five rappers can make an otherwise underestimated hip hop head seem so intellectual.