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Top Five: A Seriously Funny Comedy

by Photo of April Baptiste-Brown

Chris Rock leads an ensemble cast to A-list performances in Top Five

Top Five: A Seriously Funny Comedy

Chris Rock, surrounded by an ensemble cast lead by Rosario Dawson, is a recipe for stellar performances in his self-made comedy Top Five.

Written, directed and starred in by Rock, the comedian plays (of course) a comedian named Andre Allen who struggles to be taken seriously after he takes a turn starring in a ‘serious’ role. Due to his sudden shift in genres, Chelsea Brown, a journalist from the New York Times (played wondrously by Dawson) is given the task of following him for a day to get an in-depth feature article on him. However, as Allen reluctantly lets Brown into his career and personal life, including a highly publicized marriage to overzealous reality star Erica Long (played by a beautifully delusional Gabrielle Union), he slowly realizes that he doesn’t have to give up comedy to be taken seriously.

Honestly, going into Top Five, my expectations were average. I love Chris Rock…as a comedian. However, like his character Andre Allen, his acting roles leave much to be desired and question why Rock does not strictly stay in stand-up comedy.

Top Five, however, was different. This was Rock's third attempt at the directing/writing/acting combo (Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife were his first two attempts respectively) and clearly his most successful. Instead of searching for laughs and making an outright satire, Rock made a smart comedy about the industry, almost highlighting his own career through his character. Though he typically has a comedic cast as his entourage, this time, his cast was expertly picked from Rosario Dawson as a realistic yet hopeful journalist to J.B. Smooth as his best friend/security. Even Rock’s cameos were tastefully witty. A bachelor party scene where Allen is receiving marital advice from Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg and Jerry Seinfeld (all as themselves might I add) is absolutely priceless. Furthermore, though Rock is the star of the film, he lets the rest of the cast shine and be funny without him because honestly, they already are.

Not to be overlooked amongst the hilarity is Top Five’s soundtrack. Lead by Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson (who’s composed for blockbusters such as 30 Minutes or Less and Fruitvale Station) and co-composed by Questlove of The Roots. The soundtrack mixes newer rap like Kanye & Jay-Z’s “N****s In Paris” and old school soul such as “You Are My Lady” by Freddie Jackson. Additionally, the care for musicality extends into the movie’s title, as Top Five refers to various characters’ top five Hip-Hop and Rap artists of all time.

Overall, Top Five is a comedic standout from a veteran comedian. Rock lets his inner genius shine and directs an all-star cast to some serious laughs without compromising the storyline. He doesn’t neglect character development and produces a sharp comedy that touches on real subject matter. Alas, comedy can be taken seriously, and finally, From the film it is evident that Chris Rock has become the master of his craft.

And don't forget, for all your comedy tickets needs, check CHARGED.fm!

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