“Top Five” refers to the top five songs on your playlist. When you have a hard time being able to describe yourself to another person, the top five is the window to unlocking your soul.
In Top Five, Chris Rock plays Andre Allen. Allen is a stand-up comedian who finds himself on the top of the A-List after a series of movies featuring his character Hammy the Bear. Allen is now about to marry the biggest reality star, Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), whose comparison to Kim Kardashian could not be clearer. On the eve of his bachelor party, Allen is in New York promoting his first dramatic movie, Uprize, about the Haitian Revolution.
While in New York, Allen is to be followed around by Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), the entertainment reporter for the New York Times. Ironically, the New York Times film critic, James Neilson, has been the most critical of Andre Allen’s film career. This makes doing an interview with Brown even more distasteful.
The first half of the movie involves Allen and Brown walking the streets of New York and commenting on various topics related to politics, relationships, and the press. Allen then heads into the SiriusXM studios to promote his film, Uprize. This all leads to the wild story of the moment that Allen finally hit rock bottom; was saved by his fiancée, Long; and enters rehab.
The two soon develop a rapport and decide that the best thing they can do is to conduct this interview with “Brutal Honesty.” This is the halfway point of the movie and the moment things start getting better for the movie.
The first half is what you’d expect from a Chris Rock comedy. It includes interesting, not necessarily hilarious observations of life, politics and race. Then ramping it up to crazy antics at the SiriusXM Studios. Ending with an over-the-top, wild tale of early years of a stand-up. These moments are at times funny, but uninspired.
The second half of the movie is where we see a new side of Chris Rock and his maturity as an actor and writer. It is at this point, we are promised “brutal honesty” and we get it. The character of Andre Allen has been playing it safe in life ever since he became sober. He’s given up the life of stand-up. He is about to marry a high profile woman and now is choosing film projects that have “meaning.” But is Andre happy?
Another highlight of Top Five are the numerous cameos. J.B. Smoove is likable and endearing as Allen’s bodyguard. Ben Vereen is memorable as Allen’s father. The best cameo comes from a honest discussion about fame with Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Top Five has the humor and observations expected from any Chris Rock project. The real joy of Top Five seeing the Rock bring moments of “brutal truth” and honesty about the fame and being a kid who was not yet prepared for it.