When you think of Romantic Comedies Chris Rock really isn’t the first name to jump to mind, However Rock’s return to the big screen comes in the form of just that, not only as the lead but he also directed and wrote the film too.
Andre Allen (Rock), who started his career as a stand up comedian, has hit the big time in movies; He has a trilogy of smash hit movies under his belt as a talking bear and is engaged to Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), a big & very beautiful reality TV star. However, Allen is super keen to leave the character that made him a star in the past in order to be taken as a serious actor. While on a press tour to promote his next film as a “serious” actor Allen is forced to spend the day with Chelsea (Rosario Dawson), a journalist for the New York Times. As the day progresses Chelsea and Allen become close as Allen opens up about his life and finds his way back to where he began.
Whilst the storyline may not exactly be an original one, anyone familiar with Woody Allen’s work will see the similarities between this film and Allen’s Stardust Memories, It certainly makes you realise that Rock has finally found his niche where his filmmaking skills are concerned with this entertaining and hilarious warm film.
The one little niggle that got my goat is the constant use of the N word when talking to and referring to people of the same race as him. Rock has never been one to shy away from using it in his stand up work and obviously felt comfortable lacing it throughout the film. In one scene where he is having a heated discussion with his agent (played by Kevin Hart) it just seemed like every other word was this word, I found it highly offensive, is it really OK to use this word in the states? It just sends out the wrong message.
The strongest scene when it comes to comedy and a constant belly laugh which will make you ache is where we see Allen flashback to an earlier period in his life just starting out on the Stand up scene while talking to Chelsea. He hangs out with the promoter/organiser of his show who is full of talk and empty promises. He arranges for two hookers to go back to Allen’s hotel room for a night of passion what transpires is completely traumatising for Allen but hilarious for the viewer. It does make you wonder how much of his own personal life experiences he has pulled his inspiration from.
The chemistry between Dawson and Rock on screen feels so natural and real, Chris Rock really seems to have got the story telling of this relationship and how it develops spot on, it just works so well from Chelsea chipping away at his outer layer and bravado to bringing out what really makes him tick to Andre making her work to get that exclusive story she has been sent to obtain which leads to him getting to know about her life and troubles too. The pair just works so well together you’re rooting for something to happen between them from the onset. As for the rest of the cast it’s littered with so many cameos in the form of Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfield, Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan amongst many many others including DMX (in a scene that will make you cry with laughter), it’s clear that Rock wanted to give back to his friends in casting but they also have great and essential roles to play in telling Andre’s story.
Quite surprisingly I walked out the screening quite satisfied with what I had just watched; Top Five is a smart, hilarious feel-good comedy that will go down well with both sexes.
Top Five is out in UK Cinemas 8th of May.