“Top Five” (2014)
Andre Allen (Chris Rock) looks to be on top of the world. He has fame and fortune as a world-famous stand-up comedian who has made the transition to films. He has a big Hollywood movie being released. He is marrying a beautiful girl this weekend. But looks can be deceiving. Andre is an alcoholic who struggles every day to remain sober. His life has become one big media event as his fiancée, Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) is a reality star who lives by the mantra “that if it doesn’t happen in front of the cameras, it doesn’t happen.” Andre is attempting to be a serious actor but can’t escape the blockbuster, “Hammy the Bear,” an incredibly successful franchise where he was a machine-gun firing bear. On top of all that, Andre is about to be interviewed by Chelsea (Rosario Dawson) who works for The New York Times. The Times seems bent on destroying his career with one bad review after another of his films.
Andre agrees to do the interview, but only if Chelsea follows him around as he does pre-wedding tasks and promises to be fair. It’s a decision that could change both of their lives. Andre juggles phone interviews about his movie, dealing with a constant stream of autograph seekers and dodging the questions of Chelsea. Chelsea starts to wear down Andre and they begin to realize that they have some things in common – including the fact that they are both in the program.READ MORE: Local Experts React To New Alzheimer's Drug, Aduhelm
Chris Rock wrote and directed this film that is funny, raunchy at times, smart and has a great deal of heart. The film is full of very natural conversations between Chelsea and Andre as they become closer to each other as the movie goes on. There is great chemistry between Rock and Dawson, making their attraction believable. Rock gives a high-energy performance delivering lines right and left with incredible comic effect. Dawson gives a brilliant performance as the writer who can hold her own with the talented, lighting fast Andre. Dawson is an actress who lets her delight and joy show through her eyes, which light up in the scenes with Rock.
The highlight of this film is the supporting cast, with a number of cameos popping up at every turn. I don’t want to give away too much, but Cedric the Entertainer steals the show as Dee, a brash, over-the-top promoter who lavishes Andre with alcohol and women. His character is larger than life and tells everyone he is the most important man in the city. There is an incredibly funny scene involving some ladies of the night, Andre, Dee and a hotel room. Another standout scene is when, with Chelsea in tow, Andre goes back to his old neighborhood to visit family and friends. Tracy Morgan plays a relative of Andre, who is the butt of many of comedian’s best jokes. Gabrielle Union is amusing as the reality star fiancée who won’t kiss Andre unless it’s on camera. Other standouts in the casts include J.B. Smoove, as Andre’s security guard and lifelong friend, Kevin Hart, who plays Andre’s agent, and Sherri Shepherd as an ex of Andre.
Rock’s script is filled with smart, witty dialogue, though I do think that a number of scenes in the film were improvised due to all the comedians on screen at the time. While hysterical, the film also has a lot of heart, as Rock lets us see the vulnerability and insecurities of a man who is very worried about living up to his past successes. Rock shows us a man in Andre who is constantly being reminded of his past, as people on the streets of New York continuously yelling out “Hammy” at him. The film moves at a quick pace and Rock’s direction lets us experience the life of a celebrity in the Big Apple. The camera continuously follows Andre and Chelsea down the sidewalks, keeping us up close as they carry on their back and forth talks.READ MORE: Businesses Hopeful To End Labor Shortage When Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Ends June 26
“Top Five” is one of the best comedies of the year, and Rock deserves a big thank you for bringing us a film is smart, funny, and has substance. Throughout the movie, Andre asks friends what their top five rap stars are, hence the title. My guess is Rock’s film will make a lot of film critics “top five” picks as well. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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