Studio: Paramount (1 hr. 42 min.)
Plot: A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancée talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.
Cast: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan
Bottom Line: ****
By Laurence Washington
Chris Rock has successfully moved from comedic actor to director, quite seamlessly I might add. Which punctuates the character he’s portraying in the hilarious “Top Five.” Rock plays Andre Allen, a comedian who during a Charlie Rose interview reveals that he wants to move on from action/comedy pictures starring Hammi The Bear, to more serious roles. So much so, that he’s starring in a Haitian slave revolt film titled “Uprize!” However, Allen’s fans won’t let him move on. They want Hammi Time, all the time and have no qualms about shouting that fact wherever he goes.
On “Uprize’s” opening day, Allen finds himself reluctantly participating in his fiancée’s (Gabrielle Union) reality-show wedding, conducting a one-on-one interview with New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), while trying to promote “Uprize!” – a picture that nobody wants to see.
The enduring thing about “Top Five” is its blending real and fictional life punctuated with New York City locations and landmarks. Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler have cameos playing themselves, giving the film a sense of authenticity.
During the daylong interview with Brown, Rock shows off his acting chops becoming a believable character that the audience cares about. Unlike his two-dimensional characters in previous outings, Rock is three-dimensional hitting all points on the emotional spectrum as a recovering alcoholic who wants to be taken seriously.
That’s not to say that Rock isn’t funny. Raunchy and scathing at times (this isn’t a kid’s movie folks), Rock is smart enough to play the foil when visiting his…let’s us say colorful family in a Manhattan project featuring and over-the-top performance by foul-mouth Tracy Morgan. Rock’s writing and directing of “Top Five” makes you think maybe Andre Allen isn’t somewhat a reflection of Rock wanting to move beyond typecast. That’s just a thought.
This column was printed in the December 28, 2014 - January 10, 2015 edition.