After roaring success in both his stand up and comedy film career, actor and comedian Andre Allen is hoping to turn his life around with some different choices in both his career and his personal life.
Chris Rock (The Longest Yard) stars, writes and directs this mature comedy and exceeds on all fronts. He shares the screen with many popular actors in this film but most notably Rosario Dawson (Marvel's Daredevil) who have undeniable chemistry together. She plays Chelsea Brown, a journalist assigned to interview Andre (Rock) about his career and personal life.
This is the finest performance we have ever seen from Chris Rock, an actor best known for his roles in Adam Sandler flicks, his voice in the Madagascar films and his incredible stand up comedy but this is by far the best he's ever been on screen. As well with starring, he also wrote and directed the film and surprisingly does a remarkable job with both. The script is witty, mature and insightful into the world of show-business.
I wouldn't describe the film as a straight up comedy because it is a lot more mature than your everyday comedic film. "Top Five" goes into the same realm as "Birdman", which are quite similar in terms of story, this film just features a lot less ambiguity. It has some very funny scenes yet is truly heartfelt with its themes and takes the story seriously. This in many ways is the "Birdman" for comedians, like Michael Keaton in that film, Andre Allen is questioned constantly on whether or not he'll be returning to his famed movie franchise.
As a comedian, Rock is one of the best in the business, yet his acting career never panned out as well. In "Top Five" he's a vulnerable character, he's dealt with alcohol addiction and I grew more and more connected to his character as the film progressed.
The film shines when Rock and Dawson share the screen, they have undeniable chemistry and Dawson as well as Rock gives a tremendous performance. The film features many cameos from stars such as Jerry Seinfeld, Tracy Morgan and a couple others that I don't want to give away.
Rock and Dawson wander the streets of New York as she interviews him. We learn about the character of Andre as she does, we learn about his past, his personal life and his connection with the media. A lot of times we forget that celebrities are people too, they have vulnerabilities and emotions, and this is a film that really reminds us of that. But as the interview goes on we also learn about Chelsea's life, her relationships and past. One of the funniest scenes in the film is between her and her boyfriend which I won't spoil.
The film does have its laugh out loud moments but its really about the small moments that these two characters share as they learn about each other. The film can be crass and dirty, but it never feels forced because of how well Chris Rock respects the audience. Don't be turned off by thinking this is a "Grown Ups" esque comedy, because its the farthest thing from it.
"Rigorous honesty" is touched upon when discussing alcoholism in the film and that phrase really reflects whats happening on screen, the film feels truthful. You can see instantly that Rock has a personal investment in this story because like his character in the film he has had a comedy film career as well as a very successful stand up career and also lost his older brother Charles in 2006 to alcoholism, the film feels fundamentally honest.
Hopefully "Top Five" will encourage Chris Rock to follow a more mature path in terms of his films and hopefully direct some more of his projects. This is his third directing effort.
Top Five as well as being expertly directed and incredibly well performed is a very entertaining film with enough laughs and enough drama to see you through to the very end. I had a blast watching "Top Five" and hopefully you will too, the film is in limited release in the UK but if you can get out to see it, then I implore you to do so!