By Jack Rico
The “1-4-0”: #TopFive is the best comedy of 2014. It is an urban Stardust Memories/Annie Hall. Chris Rock gives us a smart, romantic, thought-provoking film along with all the humor we’ve known from him.
The Gist: A NY Times reporter puts a movie star comedian in an uncomfortable position to battle the dilemma of either surrendering to people’s plea for him to make funny movies again or stick to his guns and continue to make serious, unfunny movies.
What Works: Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West are co-producers of the film and Rock directs, writes and stars in his own film. There are some VERY funny moments in this movie, but the whole film isn’t slapstick or a situational gag film, rather, it is a pensive, intimate look at the struggle for identity for one man. Rock actually acts in this movie and has created a film that stands up to the quality of his stand-up material. Top Five digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today. You’ll laugh, but you’ll also think too. Not many comedies offer that up today.
What Doesn’t Work: The film could have used a bit more funny scenes.
Pay or Nay? Pay. It is clear that Chris Rock’s primary influence for this film is Woody Allen. He is paying homage to perhaps his favorite selections from his catalogue: Stardust Memories, Annie Hall and Manhattan. Rock has managed to mix his own style with Allen’s to create a respected modern comedy worthy of honors. He is at his prime here along with an all-star cast. There is one scene that pays for the price of admission and it is the tampon, hot sauce and a naked man. It is the funniest scene you will see all year!
Rated: R for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use.
Release Date: December 12, 2014
Screenplay: Chris Rock
Director(s): Chris Rock
Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, J.B. Smoove, Romany Malco, Cedric the Entertainer
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Film Genre: Comedy