Top Five

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This Catch Up is written by Telaina Eriksen

Year of Release: 2014

Rating: R (for nudity, drugs, swearing and a disturbing scene with Cedric the Entertainer, two sexy prostitutes and lots of feathers)

Currently Streaming on Netflix? No—available OnDemand and on BluRay and DVD

Spoilers? Mild

My husband and I saw Chris Rock on The Tonight Show last year promoting this movie he wrote, starred in and produced. Rock joked that since no one had called recently he had to make his own work. Since my husband and I rarely make it to the movie theater anymore (so many obligations at night) we looked forward to Top Five’s DVD release so we could enjoy it at home. We are long-time Chris Rock fans (since his Saturday Night Live days) and we were expecting the movie to be funny as Rock manages to lend a funny edge to even the most lackluster comedy (see: Grown Ups I & II). What we weren’t expecting from this movie was its satire of show business, press junkets (similar to America’s Sweethearts where Christopher Walken rolls in the last ten or 15 minutes of the movie with his “Blair Bitch Project”) and the one-day romance between Rock (who plays Andre Allen) and Rosario Dawson (who plays Chelsea Brown.)

Allen is a comedian who wants to turn serious after three cheesy but hilarious Hammy the Bear movies. His current project, where he stars as a Haitian slave during the revolution, is about to be released. Several clips are shown as he does his press junket and the movie looks laughably bad. Engaged to a TV reality star, he is just hours away from a Bravo-televised deluxe wedding and he agrees to let a New York Times reporter spend the day interviewing him in hopes of helping the box office of his slave-uprising epic.

Brown, the NYT reporter, is beautiful and interesting—a writer, a poet, a photographer and a recovering alcoholic, just as Allen is. Brown strives to get Allen to trust her (The New York Times eviscerated all of his Hammy the Bear movies) and just as Allen begins to trust her and even fall a little in love with her, he discovers a secret about Brown and is tempted to flush his four or five years of sobriety down the toilet because he is so disappointed in her.

The Top Five trope throughout the movie is various characters listing their Top Five rap or hip-hop artists. (One of the funniest scenes in the movie is a cameo by Jerry Seinfeld where he lists his Top Five and makes it rain in a strip club.) One of the most beautifully shot scenes in the movie is when Allen says goodbye to Brown and asks her Top Five (Salt-N-Pepa is included!)

All and all, this is a charming, romantic, funny and yes at times vulgar, movie—so I found it perfect fare for a Friday night. Rock obviously knows his strengths as a star and as a comedian and viewers will have fun identifying all the co-stars and cameos—which include Cedric the Entertainer, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Hart.

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