I should have known better. I am not a Chris Rock fan; not even close. But the critics were raving about Top Five, so I thought I would give Rock a chance. I should have stuck with my intuition.
In Top Five, Rock, who also wrote and directed the film, stars as Andre Allen, a stand-up comedian who became famous as Hammy the Bear in some insane comedy/action film series but feels he isn’t funny anymore, especially now that he is sober. So Allen decides to make a serious action film about a slave rebellion in Haiti in which thousands of white people are killed. On the day his new film is set to premiere, Allen is in New York City, where he is getting married to a reality TV star named Erica Long (Gabrielle Union). Long is only interested in how the wedding will look on TV, which is making Allen nervous. On that same day, Allen is talked into doing a serious interview with Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), a critic from the New York Times, which has printed nothing but scathing reviews of all his films (and of his acting in particular).
Top Five takes us through Allen’s rather traumatic day in a frenzied style that suits Rock’s own style very well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t suit me very well. The film has its moments, especially in the last half, but they are few and far between and almost entirely confined to the serious side of the screenplay. The comedy, as I suspected might be the case, didn’t work for me at all (clearly I have a different sense of humour than most critics, which has been proven many times; or maybe in this case it just helps to be American). I laughed exactly twice in the entire film and I don’t think anyone else in the audience laughed much more than that. For a film labelled only as a comedy, that doesn’t cut it.
Dawson was the only actor in Top Five who impressed me (Rock had his moments too, but generally failed to make me believe he was anyone other than Chris Rock). Nothing else in the film impressed me much, though the overall theme of satirizing celebrity was certainly effective. All in all, though, I felt I wasted my time (when will I learn not to trust critics when it comes to comedy?). **+ for one of the most overrated films of the year. My mug is down.