"Top Five" Review

I canʼt remember the last film I saw that I didnʼt want to come to an end while watching it in the theater. Itʼs rare. “Top Five” is a hilarious ride that you donʼt want to get off of.

Chris Rock knocks the ball out of the park as his third time in the directorʼs chair. Heplays Andre Allen, a comedian who has lost his mojo, and is on the verge of marrying his reality TV star fiancee Erica (Gabrielle Union). Heʼs promoting his latest “serious” film, Uprize, and is making the press circuit. Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) is assigned at the last minute to spend the next couple of days interviewing him. They find commonality as recovering alcoholics, and ask for absolute honesty in an effort to keep the interview unique.

The film is a talkie piece reminiscent of Woody Allenʼs “Annie Hall” or “Stardust Memories”. Andre and Chelsea stay in motion with witty back and forth conversation as they duck into town cars, Sirius radioʼs office, and all the other promotional stops through the course of the day. Itʼs the A/B parallel of the duo slowly revealing their private life and business that comes in to the film and gives it heart. The two make stops at Chelseaʼs house, where Andre meets her mother and daughter. Andre stops through the “hood” and visits his own family in a hilarious scene where his father Carl (Ben Vereen), Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jordan, Sherri Shepherd, and Hassan Johnson totally rip into their “Hollywood” family member. You can totally see where Andre got his humor from, and itʼs an opportunity to let the former SNL stars shine. As Andre and Chelsea continue to talk, it’s clear that they share a chemistry that turns into one of the best romantic comedies of 2014.

Throughout the course of the film Rock infuses his comedic timing as Andre Allen. Sure, heʼs not the best actor, but heʼs playing a comedian which isnʼt a stretch. Itʼs like when Beyonce plays a singer, and we actually get a decent performance. Rosario Dawson is perfect in the role as the quick-witted journalist. Every supporting character and cameo is placed with thought and intention. They all deliver, but most importantly serve the film in such a way to advance the story. 

The film is a great love story, and it’s as raw and on point as Rock’s stand up hitting on politics, hip hop, and pop culture issues. Be warned, there is a scene with Cedric the Entertainer in the hotel room in Houston that you can’t unsee. I’m still having nightmares. On the flip side, I think the cameo with Jerry Seinfeld and DMX will be talked about for a while. “Top Five” is one of those films that you would buy the DVD on the spot if they were on sell when you exited the theater. A great choice for the movies this weekend! 

Rating: A


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.