Top Five has to be one of the most surprising films I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying this year. An immense testament to Chris Rock’s comedy, it marks his name as an individual brand of laughter. According to Rock,
“I treated it just like my stand-up, and that was the goal — to get a movie that felt like my stand-up that went all over the place…”
"Top Five": Press Conference - EXCLUSIVE
Rock’s previous fiction film as writer-director-star was 2007’s I Think I Love My Wife, an adaptation of Eric Rohmer’s Chloe in the Afternoon. He also produced the 2009 documentary Good Hair. LA Times reporter, Mark Olsen, suggests,
“Top Five is not some ennui-laden examination of self, or revelatory peek behind the curtain of fame - it is a very fun movie that asks not to be taken too seriously.”
Yet, it does shed light on a desire we all share as individuals and pokes at quite a shallow hole in our hearts.
Let’s overlook the intensely hilarious sex scenes that occur in this movie for a moment and realize that what made them completely acceptable was the intelligently allocated jokes distributed at the proper moments. Alcoholism, sex, lies, strippers, failing careers and relationships are a few of the many things that Top Five & Birdman have in common. However, one is listed as a drama while the other a comedy.
Both are in relative talks for Oscar nods. Being that The Academy® rarely recognizes comedy, this could be the beginning of something incredibly refreshing from our basic Tyler Perry type of humor. Each movie features a powerful monologue by one of its supporting actresses; both with a united message, the fear of irrelevancy.
"BIRDMAN": Relevant Monologue
In Birdman, Emma Stone’s character, Sam, rants to her father, Riggan (Michael Keaton), about the fact that his true sole desire for the success of his play is to feel relevant and accepted by his industry again. Gabrielle Union, playing a reality-TV star fiancé to Chris Rock, talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show and has a sincere break down the night before over the phone with him as to why she needs this wedding to follow through without fail: she has no “discernible or qualifiable” talent.
At the Top Five Press Conference, Gabrielle Union explains,
“It’s an addiction to please and to want to be liked, and to be validated by other people.”
"Top Five": Clip - Gabrielle Union & Chris Rock
“Not on camera, it doesn't exist!” — Gabrielle Union, "Erica Long"
So whether either of these wonderfully executed brands of humor with scream-worthy cameos get the infamous Academy tip-of-the-hat, they are both an insightful and funny look at a man’s mid-career crisis and his personal demons, be it alcohol or a man in a bird suit.
Top Five hits theaters Dec. 5th.
For the record...
My Top Five:
- Jay Z
- Three Six Mafia
- Dr. Dre
…if Rosario Dawson got a sixth, I’ll need one too: Biggie