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Top Five - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Top Five
Directing: B-
Acting: B
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

Let's just get this right out of the way: This movie won't even make my Top Ten.

It's fun, sure, but let's not get carried away -- which is what critics seem to be doing (92% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes; 83 "metascore" at MetaCritic, both extraordinarily high ratings). People all over the place are loving this movie, including, unsurprisingly, Chris Rock's comedian friends. Or maybe even comedians who aren't really friends -- widely known interpersonal resentments among comedians notwithstanding, publicly, fellow comedians are characterizing this as the funniest film to come out all year. As always, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This is Chris Rock's third go-round as writer-director, spread out over the past decade or so, and his lack of experience and filmmaking savvy shows. The extent to which people are fawning over this movie is mystifying, but for one thing: yes, it's funny. Is it hi-larious, as so many would have you believe? As always, humor is subjective. Chris Rock himself recently told Marc Maron on his podcast that audiences are enjoying it, especially black ones, who apparently laugh so much you can't hear a lot of the dialogue. And even I will forgive a lot if a movie is funny enough. Top Five did indeed make me laugh -- just not incessantly, and within a script that, but for the humor that largely works, is riddled with flaws and weakness. That's just what I hone in on; I can't help myself.

Rock plays super-successful movie star and former standup comedian Andre Allen, desperate to prove himself as a serious actor now that he's in recovery and sober, and feels as though he was only ever funny while fucked up. Rosario Dawson plays the New York Times reporter assigned to write a profile on him, and thus hangs out with him all day, attempting to probe into his mind as he runs errands in preparation for a high-profile wedding with a reality TV star (Gabrielle Union).

Andre visits a bunch of family and friends over the course of the day, providing ample opportunity for fun cameos, including Tracy Morgan, Kevin Hart, Luiz Guzmán, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, and more. Honestly, Adam Sandler playing himself in this movie is the best role he's done since Punch-Drunk Love. We also get treated to Cedric the Entertainer as one nasty horndog in an extensive flashback detailing Andre's "bottom" as an alcoholic. Like many in this movie, the sequence hardly works perfectly but is still pretty funny.

The pervasive problem in Top Five -- a title referencing a game Andre and his friends play detailing their five favorite artists, bearing no direct relevance to the story -- is that none of the characters or situations quite ring true. With the possible exceptions of the cameos of people playing themselves, the roles are played straight, so the story is often difficult to recognize as the satire apparently intended. And in what world would a mega-star and his interviewer get so immediately familiar with each other, to the point of predictable romance? It doesn't help that the reporter is revealed to be in recovery as well, but neither of these characters are believable at all as recovering alcoholics. Everything they tell each other about it sounds -- well, scripted.

Top Five is hardly a waste of time, and certainly it will make you laugh. If you're looking for tightly polished storytelling, look elsewhere. This is a movie that wants to be about more than just how funny it is, and it just isn't. But if all you're looking for is some laughs, you'll get them. Just don't get that excited about it.

Rosario Dawson and Chris Rock charm each other -- and most everyone else -- in TOP FIVE.

Overall: B
1 comment or Leave a comment
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: December 16th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
This movie is extremely funny!
1 comment or Leave a comment