Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Movie Review - Top Five

Top Five (2014)
Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, and  J.B. Smoove
Directed by Chris Rock

I laughed out loud quite a bit in the first five minutes of Top Five which seemed rather promising and appeared to confirm the overwhelmingly positive critical notices Chris Rock's personally penned and helmed film received at last year's Toronto Film Festival.  Unfortunately, after the initial hilarious rants as Rock's movie star persona Andre Allen goes toe-to-toe with reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), the laughs dissipated and this tale of a fading comedian lost its allure.

Top Five's story is relatively simple which certainly isn't a detriment to the piece.  After successfully transitioning from the stand-up comedy circuit to hugely profitable (though mind-numbingly stupid) Hollywood action comedies, Andre Allen succumbed to some hefty alcohol abuse.  After meeting reality show hottie Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), Andre decides to turn over a new leaf, eschewing his drinking habits and leaving the comedy circuit behind by starring in an historical epic about a slave uprising in the 19th century.  Set to marry Erica on her Bravo tv series and with the new film about to be released, Andre's manager (J.B. Smoove) sets the star up for an interview with New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown.  Taking place over the course of one day (with flashbacks to Andre's past thrown in), Top Five details how a single interview could shape Andre's entire future.

The premise of Top Five is perfectly fine.  The problem stems from the fact that it's simply not very funny.  Flashbacks and scenes with Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan, Sherry Shepherd, and a slew of other African-American comedians feel contrived as opposed to realistic.  Andre's relationship with Erica also never feels rooted in reality (which, admittedly, may be a purposeful jab against Bravo's Real Housewives franchises), and while there are snippets of truth and chemistry between Andre and Chelsea, Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson can't maintain the refreshingly realistic tone of the film's opening scene.  Rather than feel fresh, much of the comedy feels tired and rehashed.

The RyMickey Rating:  D+

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