To start, my top five Chris Rock movies are: 5 & 4 – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa; 3 – Bee Movie; 2 – Madagascar; and 1 – Top Five. Four of the five are animated films which showcases his comedic skills in doing voice-overs. As an actor, his acting skills fall short of his comedic skills. In Top Five he finally hits a homerun on both counts. Yet, one can argue if he’s playing himself, is he really acting?
Chris Rock, plays Andre Allen, a comedian turned film start that wants to stop playing over-the- top Hammy comedy films and start doing more serious, dramatic fare. Written and directed by Chris Rock, this film shows us a day in the life of Andre as he is followed by New York Times journalist, Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) who attempts to get an honest, in-depth piece on Andre Allen. Andre is very guarded because another film critic from the New York Times has slaughtered his films in the past and butchered Andre’s acting skills. As Chelsea, Rosario has given one of her best, if not best performances of her career. She’s honest, funny, mesmerizing and deftly handles the comedy whether improvised or scripted.
Chris Rock is at his best poking fun at himself and actors who want to be “taken seriously”. You can’t help but believe that this really did happen to him. He plays Andre, who is four years sober and struggles with the insecurity that he isn’t funny anymore since he’s been sober. Kevin Hart has a cameo and is his usual funny self. JB Smoove plays Andre’s right hand man with quiet, submissive humor that is a delight to watch. The cameo appearance by several comedians fits in the right places and falls short in others. Jerry Seinfield and Whoopi Goldberg looked uncomfortable, more like cardboard backgrounds emitting humorless one-liners.
There are poignant scenes (Gabrielle Union’s scenes as his reality TV star fiancé planning their wedding for the show), depressing scenes (Andre running into his father on the street), outrageous scenes (flashback in hotel with hookers and Cedric the Entertainer, totally grotesque and unnecessary), revealing scenes (Chelsea and her boyfriend), and heartwarming scenes not to be missed.
Chris Rock is totally in his element here as writer, director and actor because, if he is drawing from his life, he exposes it in the best way possible, with humor and intelligence proving that in 1 out of 5 movies, he really can act.
Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson
Director: Chris Rock
Company: Paramount Pictures
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (strong sexual content/nudity, and crude language)