Top Five

Top Five ★★★★

Ya know, I didn't have much in the way of high expectations for Top Five. Chris Rock is a funny guy, but the movies he's appeared in have been hit and miss at best. In a move that clearly managed to keep a firm hold on creative control, Rock does the triple-threat thing by writing, directing and starring in this terrifically-cast star vehicle.

Here, Rock plays Andre Allen, a stand-up comedian turned comedic movie star. Tired of playing it for laughs all the time, Allen tries his hand at a (heavy-handed) dramatic role. The movie finds our hero on a particularly busy day making multiple PR-stops for the movie, visiting his family, giving an in-depth newspaper interview, and finally preparing for his forthcoming reality-show wedding. On paper, it seems like the kind of thing that could have easily fallen into slapstick territory. Fortunately, Rock's directorial chops keeps everything on an even keel resulting in a very funny and sometimes even moving film.

There's plenty of fun, small performances. Rock pulls in some of his celebrity-buddies from Adam Sandler's crew to play themselves. Ben Vereen and Tracy Morgan have nice scenes as family members. The strongest turns come from Rock himself, Rosario Dawson as Chelsea, the reporter who spends the day with him, and J.B. Smoove as Allen's wrangler "Silk."

In fairness, I haven't seen a whole ton of comedies in the theater this year. Top Five might be the best one. Certainly worth the price of a ticket.

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