Top Five Is Not Top 10 Material

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  Chris Rock performs at Laughter Is The Best Medecine II: The Comedy Gala at Allstream Centre on
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Chris Rock performs at Laughter Is The Best Medecine II: The Comedy Gala at Allstream Centre on September 27, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Chris Rock lays it all on the line with his new film, Top Five. He wrote, directed and stars in this film. So all that goes right with the movie is because of him and conversely all that goes wrong with the film is because of him. And a lot does go wrong as the film lurches from one uneven situation to the next.

In the film Rock plays comedic actor Andre Allen. He has had a string of successes but now wants to try something different. As is frequently heard, he wants to be taken seriously. He also wants to put behind him his past as a drug and alcohol abuser. He is on the verge of getting married to reality star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) and has a new serious film in release.

While in New York to do press for the film, he agrees to have a tag along interview with New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson). As he talks to the reporter about his past life, the audience gets to view some of the scenes of his downhill plunge. They appear to be funny but they also project a heartbreaking portrait of an artist out of control.

This is one of the imbalances of the film. On the one hand it looks like a comedy (though not a terribly funny one), and on the other it is telling a serious story of one man's decline. These two varying viewpoints do not mesh well. Plus too many of the scenes are chaotic and frenzied with people talking over each other at such such a rapid pace that the dialogue is difficult to hear.

Rock is very good in the lead role. He gives Andre enough emotion and depth to make him a likeable character. Andre is a victim in the film and this is the way Rock plays him. Dawson is also appealing as the reporter. Chelsea has a secret that comes out in the latter part of the movie and it is believable thanks to the attributes Dawson has provided in her performance.

There are tons of cameos in the movie. Some are walk-ons while others have more depth. Sherry Shepherd provides an interesting moment as Andre's former girlfriend, and Cedric the Entertainer is a stand-out as a hack who uses Andre for his own benefits. Jerry Seinfeld and Whoopi Goldberg drop in and drop out quickly.

The movie is rated R for profanity and nudity.

Top Five does provide an in-depth look at a comedian trying for something new. It strives to make it real and believable, and it succeeds for the most part. The problem is the entertainment factor gets left by the wayside.

I scored Top Five a bottomed-out 4 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper