Director: Chris Rock
Cast: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer
Running Time: 102 minutes
Release Date: May 8th
Andre Allen is a stand-up comedian who went on to become a much-loved funny man in movies, primarily in a series of lowest common denominator action-comedies where he plays a talking bear. Chris Rock is a stand-up comedian who went on to become a much-loved funny man in movies, primarily in a series of lowest common denominator animation-comedies where he plays a talking lion. Oh dear, we’re in Funny People territory, aren’t we? Well, yes, we are, but thankfully, unlike that Adam Sandler self-reflexive project, Rock didn’t forget to bring the funnies.
Written and directed by the man himself, Rock rockets through one long day of press for his new take-me-seriously, violent Haitian drama Uprizing (hint: it’s probably not very good), all the while being interviewed by Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) for The New York Times, an outlet that famously hates Rock’s, sorry, Allen’s recent CV. Over the course of the day, they talk about family, relationships, sex, friends, money, celebrity, journalism, comedy, drama and everything in between, while we get cross-sections of both their lives; he is on the verge of very publicly marrying a much-loved reality TV star (Gabrielle Union) and she is finding it difficult to get in contact with her birthday-boy boyfriend (Anders Holm).
As smart comedies go, they don’t get much smarter or funnier than this. Rock and Dawson have an irrepressibly easy charm between them, able to go deep and intellectual and then back to raucous and raunchy at a moment’s notice. Rock uses New York as his urban jungle of a background, the city’s vibrant nature mirroring the forward-thinking issues they bring up to do with race, sexuality and gender. Or sometimes they just want to discuss their favorite rappers, or opinions of every famous funny person from Bill Murray to Buster Keaton. Then there’s the likes of the scene-stealing Cedric the Entertainer showing up as a pimp/event organiser for one of Allen’s gigs, or Tracy Morgan as his consta-broke cousin, or the trio of VERY famous comedians showing up for Allen’s bachelor party… Top Five can sometimes feel like Rock is calling in a career’s worth of favours, and getting the movie’s producers (which includes Kanye West and Jay-Z) to make it worth everyone’s while.
Even better, it’s definitely worth our while, as a flabby third-act plot-twist and clichéd soundtrack aside, Top Five will (and we hate ourselves for saying this) definitely be in your top five comedies of the year.