Chris Rock writes, directs and stars in the semi autobiographical Top Five that focuses on a stand-up comedian turned actor who really wants to be taken seriously in that space.
The film is shot like a documentary in many ways as reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) basically follows him around for a day as she conducts an interview with him. As the day progresses they learn a lot about each other and find a lot of common ground beyond the commonality of them both being recovering alcoholics.
Rock and Dawson’s scenes together are definitely the strongest in the film with both actors having such an obvious chemistry that makes them at times magnetic to watch. Chemistry isn’t everything though as I found many of their exchanges to be overlong and insufferably unfunny. I kept waiting for the joke to land but for the most part it never happened, at least not for me.
That’s not to say that I didn’t find any of the film funny. There were parts of it that were a little amusing such as a gross out story about the event that made Rock’s Andre Allen hit rock bottom and quit drinking. The film is peppered with scenes like this where Allen recounts events in his life in the form of flashbacks that illustrate how he came to make some life changing decisions getting him to where he is today. It actually feels like a stand-up gig structurally come to think of it. There’s the set up, the explanation and the gag before moving onto the next one. It doesn’t quite follow this strict structure throughout but in general that’s what the film does. Just for me none of it really landed in the way it was probably supposed to.
I normally like Chris Rock and enjoy what I have seen of his stand-up but when it comes to his films I find him really hit or miss. This definitely comes into the miss category which is a shame as I thought this had a lot of potential. Chris Rock’s Andre Allen is quite a likeable character some of the time and I like how his naivety about the success he supposedly deserves as a serious actor carries throughout the film. Some of the interviews he takes part in where he talks about the Oscar bait slave film he’s in as if it’s anything other than absolute garbage are really nicely done and it’s easy to see that he’s on a collision course for failure.
The film also portrays the falseness in Hollywood life quite well with his sham wedding to Reality TV star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) being the clearest example of that. If the film wanted to make her incredibly unlikeable then it absolutely nailed it. I’m generally not a fan of Reality TV so my perception of what it is was absolutely nailed here.
Despite the good things about it I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy this film. It often fell just short of being amusing and I found the pacing to be awful. It felt long and what was onscreen simply wasn’t interesting enough to hold my attention. I kept waiting for really good things to happen but they never really did. In general I found myself feeling as detached from the events as Andre Allen himself.
This film definitely has a lot of fans but I’m just not one of them. I found it to be very poorly paced and hugely unfunny throughout.
I have enjoyed what I have seen of Chris Rock’s standup but this film just left me cold throughout to the point where I was glad when the credits rolled.
There are some things it does really well such as the chemistry between Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson being constantly on point. I liked how their characters found lots to relate to each other with and the interview idea to showcase Chris Rock’s Andre Allen’s significant turning points was a good one.
I also enjoyed how the falseness of Hollywood was portrayed here with Allen’s sham marriage to a reality TV star being the most clear example of that. The script definitely nailed how I see Reality TV and why I’m not a fan.
Comedies are difficult for me as I seem to be detached from what the majority of audiences find funny so I tend to skip a lot of them as a result. There are a lot of people who will love this movie because of the style of humour but for me the jokes really didn’t work with a few exceptions. I found myself constantly waiting for them to land with no real payoff.
This is one of my shorter reviews but I have no intention of going on about how much I didn’t like this movie for any longer especially since it will be more in the eye of the beholder than some films. I won’t say it was objectively bad but it really wasn’t for me.