TOP FIVE | REVIEW

TOP FIVE is the Chris Rock film everyone is raving about, the satire and melding of his stand-up into a spectacularly intelligent movie that he also wrote and directed. I have always found him funny but have never really taken him serious however everything about this movie looks amazing. Kernel Alistair headed along to this one and provides his best review to date. Enjoy his thoughts on TOP FIVE, which releases at art-house cinemas from tomorrow, Thursday 12/3/15 in Australia. It runs for 102mins and is rated MA15+. All the best………JK 

 

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TOP FIVE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY ALISTAIR SHIELDS

Chris Rock was once known for more than being the voice behind a black and white striped zebra. The man once sold out seats from the front row all the way to back where you need binoculars and a hearing aid as he held the prestigious title of ‘King of Comedy’. Chris Rock once occupied the lofty air which the greats like Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Jerry Seinfeld once breathed. Long gone are those times and Chris Rock has moved on in his career, as they all do, but it has been a while since we have seen something this good from the man.

Chris Rock is a man whose stand-up held a mirror to life. Life on the streets, his people and his culture – these are all elements heavily relied on in his new film, TOP FIVE.

Both directed and written by the leading man, TOP FIVE has Chris Rock all over it. It is an energetic, witty, grounded piece of cinema that provides a refreshing change of pace from the cheap comedies that litter our screens these days.

 

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TOP FIVE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | ANDRE ALLEN (CHRIS ROCK)

 

TOP FIVE explores many facets of popular culture: poking fun at reality TV, celebrity culture and the absurdity of showbiz (the never-ending ‘Hammy’ franchise brilliantly lampoons Hollywood’s obsession with spewing forth sequel after sequel). This is a nice throwback to his stand-up comedy material from earlier days. In fact, his material seemed to provide inspiration for a large majority of the film, at times it seemed almost like his stand-up had been adapted specifically for the big screen.

The similarities provide a solid foundation for the film. The protagonist, Andre Allen (Fun fact: Andre Allen is named after Chris’ brother Andre, and his grandfather Allen) appears to be heavily inspired by Rock himself, and one can only guess several of the other characters have real-life versions too.

Andre is a comedian who no longer makes people laugh. Pursuing film roles in dramatic pieces, his career has lost it’s shine, his movies making no money, and receiving little publicity. The one thing in his life holding his career afloat, is his highly-publicised wedding to reality TV star, Kim Kardashian Erica Long (Gabrielle Union).

 

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TOP FIVE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | CHELSEA BROWN (ROSARIO DAWSON) & ANDRE ALLEN (CHRIS ROCK)

 

The story plays out while New York Times journalist Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) seeks to glean an insight into Andre’s life and reveal the answer to the question everyone wants to know, “Why aren’t you funny anymore?”

It is a relationship that will have you saying ‘oh yeah, I saw that coming’, but it’s worth going along for the ride. The coupling of Andre and Chelsea is genuine and enjoyable in its simplicity, Andre’s honesty (and if we’re to be frank, at times pessimism) contrasts beautifully against Chelsea’s optimism and hope. Rosario plays Chelsea spectacularly, on screen, a tantalizing spark that will leave you enchanted. (Ed’s note: one woman JK will turn for:)).

This coupling is only the tip of the iceberg, in terms of characters and relationships that are unveiled. A true symphony of characters that let the movie sing, it may not be the smooth tones of Frank Sinatra, but its smooth, sexy and real. The Roots of films.

From his friends of his past, to his current A-list, comedic heavyweight mates, each character is a welcome addition to the screen. Too often we see films these days throw in cameos of well-known actors to attract viewers without adding any value to the film. At times these even detract from the overall experience. In TOP FIVE, the cameos add an interesting layer to the film. I won’t ruin anything for you, but my god these cameos are making me thirsty.

 

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TOP FIVE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | FRED (A SUPERSIZED TRACY MORGAN)

 

Rock has much practice in the art of communication and providing a voice of the people, and the characters all seem to reflect this, their roles in the film seeming natural and well-placed. The script is not as polished as it could have been if guided by an experienced hand, lacking in some areas where it seems Rock couldn’t voice a character who did not share his own sense of humour.

The film’s title is a motif that features sporadically throughout. At first, the title seems abstract and it is not until we meet Andre’s childhood friends that we learn to what it refers (a list of your top five hip hop artists). After watching the trailer, the title ‘TOP FIVE’ one assumes that hip hop will be a prevalent theme. This is true, however possibly not in the ways you’d think – instead it is incorporated through the soundtrack and cameo appearances.

 

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TOP FIVE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | CHELSEA BROWN (ROSARIO DAWSON) & ANDRE ALLEN (CHRIS ROCK)

 

With musical legend Questlove producing the soundtrack and hip-hop king of kings, Kanye West and Jay-Z overseeing the production, it was always going to sound good. However, if you don’t like your hip-hop the soundtrack may fall on deaf ears.

And that is one part of the key to really appreciating this film. It is a film for the hip hop aficionados, and the Chris Rock enthusiasts.

In the end it is a genuine, shining, piece of cinema that will have you laughing, tapping your feet and maybe even rapping a line or two.

And my final note, my TOP FIVE;

Rakim, Eminem, Jay-Z, Tupac and Big Daddy Kane.

 

4 Pops