Run time: 102min

Director: Chris Rock

Cast: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, J B Smoove

Synopsis:  A comedian is trying to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancé talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.


Starring, written, directed and produced by Chris Rock, Top Five  is the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s trying to leave behind. In one frenetic visit from LA to New York, Allen is trying to move on from his stand up past and Hammy Bear film franchise. He has just opened his new film Uprize – about Haitian revolutionary Dutty Boukman – and is planning to marry his reality star fiancée Erica (Gabrielle Union) live on television. Now he also has to cope with a probing press interview from a paper he distrusts.

There is nothing new about the trope of the Fool who wants to play Hamlet.  There has been a very long line of such literary and cinematic protagonists, most notably Joel McCrea as the eponymous film director Sullivan in Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels (1941), Fellini’s 8½,  Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories and the recent brilliant Birdman from Alejandro González Iñárritu. The theme of the successful funny man anxious to throw aside his comic reputation to be taken seriously is a rich one and Chris Rock is the latest to be handed the baton in the long line of iconic black stand up comedians (Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith) who have become successful film stars.

‘Top Five’ is a phrase that refers to a bonding game played by Allen throughout the one redemptive and introspective day that makes up the film’s timespan. With the diverse bunch of extended family, friends, celebrities and others he encounters during the day, he is impelled to ask them to list their ‘top five’ rappers.

A curate’s egg of a film, with flashes of wit, political and cultural insight,and comedy romance, there is also interest in the ensemble cameo work from JB Smoove (Leon Black in Curb Your Enthusiasm), Kevin Hart (The Wedding Ringer, Ride Along), and many playing themselves including Charlie Rose, Bruce Bruce, Gabourey Sidibe, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, plus an uncredited Jerry Seinfeld.

NB – This film is not for those offended by ‘colourful’ language.

Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures UK