There is a point at the beginning of “Top Five” when Chris Rock’s character says, “I don’t feel like doing funny movies anymore. I don’t feel funny”. Apparently he accomplished his goal because the movie he’s in isn’t all that funny.
Written, directed, and starring Chris Rock, “Top Five” tells the tale of Andre Allen (Rock), a former comedian who wants to be taken seriously as an actor, all while being shadowed by a journalist (Rosario Dawson) and dealing with the impending wedding with his reality star wife (Gabrielle Union).
Chris Rock is a great comedian, there’s no denying that, and even if he isn’t the greatest actor in the world, he still has produced some funny products the past decade. “Top Five” seems like it should work on paper, with Rock playing almost a version of himself, but it just doesn’t and for a comedy it isn’t that funny.
The cast looks impressive with the likes of Kevin Hart, Tracey Morgan and Cedric the Entertainer all popping up on the poster, but in reality this the Rock and Dawson show, with celebrities stopping by to cameo in one scene. Ironically it is the three scenes with Hart, Morgan and Cedric that each bring a little life and the biggest laughs to the screen, but the moment their characters exit you instantly miss them.
There are some tiny bits of inspired writing from Rock about how maybe we’re too tough on reality stars for having no real talent or how we expect too much from A-list celebrities, but those moments get lost watching scenes that go on for too long or are ruined by an awkwardly out-of-place crude joke.
I kept sitting through “Top Five” waiting and wanting it to pick up momentum and be funny, the kind of funny I know Chris Rock can bring, but it never does, and that is the film’s biggest problem: it is a comedy that just isn’t funny. The film never fully knows what kind of film it wants to be.
It wants to be taken seriously and address a man’s alcoholism? It throws is a montage with Cedric the Entertainer and two prostitutes. It wants to be filled with potty humor? It suddenly flips and makes some characters start a serious argument. Films like “Funny People” perfectly walk the lines of potty humor, drama and genuine laughs, but “Top Five” can’t.
The best part of “Top Five” is when Chris Rock’s character is shown doing standup, which makes sense because these are Rock’s roots. But a few celebrity cameos and a couple smart satirical moments can’t save a film that drags on and then suddenly just ends. I really, really wanted to like “Top Five” more than I did, if not for my sake then for Rock’s, but I could not.
Critics Rating: 5/10