It's films like these that make me contemplate giving films a 3/4 rating. I know I won't, but I do contemplate it. Top Five follows the story of washed up comedian, Andre (Chris Rock). Ever since becoming sober, he's stopped doing stand up. Instead, he's making movies, his most famous ones being a series of films about a talking bear. In his latest film, Andre decided to make a drama about the biggest slave uprising in history. As he tries to promote the film, Andre is followed around by a journalist named Chelsea (Rosario Dawson), who's interviewing him for a news article. And, uh, that's about it. Sweet and simple.
I knew next to nothing about this film going in. I knew Chris Rock was in it and that he also wrote and directed the film. Hearing that, one would presume this film was a straight up, typical comedy. A comedy? Yes, and a hilarious one too. A straight up, typical comedy? Not quite. Sure, the character arcs end up in the exact spot I predicted they would, but the journey there is somewhat less predictable, and a heck of a lot funnier than I expected going in. I should go into comedies blind more often. It always tends to work better than having seen the trailer.
As it turns out, Chris Rock can really direct. Having not seen his previous two films, I wasn't entirely sure how he'd go behind the camera. Why I ever worried is beyond me. Rock is brilliant, both on and off screen. His performance is alive and full of charm, and his writing/directing is even better. The screenplay pokes and prods at the ins and outs of Hollywood, and then decides to bring Whoopi Goldberg in because why the hell not? But the best part about it is how much heart and soul it's got as well.
Starring alongside Chris Rock is Rosario Dawson, who gives one of the better performances of her career. Not only is she hilarious, but her character was surprisingly well developed and full of layers. She's believable, she's funny and helps to make this movie as good as it is, even if certain scenes are put in the film just so Chris Rock can cameo his friends, but hey, I'm not one to complain about cameos. Cameos are awesome, except when you're Muppets Most Wanted and that's all the film is.*
To sum up, Top Five is a hilarious new comedy from Chris Rock that doesn't only further show that he's a good actor and comedian, but also proves that he has a knack at being behind the camera too.
3 1/2 Stars
*on a side note, I enjoyed Muppets Most Wanted very much.