I was contemplating walking out of Top Five during the first half hour, but, boy, am I glad I didn't. Top Five, directed, written and starring Chris Rock, is a slow build like a set up for one terrific joke. That single joke has to do with JFK and Marilyn Monroe. It is irreverent and Chris Rock at his finest. He is doing stand up in a club and delivers on stage with style, aplomb and like the Chris Rock most of us have grown to love and respect.
But Top Five is a bumpy ride. It is the journey of Dre or Andre who is a comedian who is tired of the mundanity in his career though he is a superstar. He is doing schlock films and has discovered that he is an alcoholic, and now is newly sober. If this is Chris Rock's story it is disguised, but who cares as I learned to care about Dre though this bumpy ride.
Dre is engaged to a stereotypical blonde-haired, black woman, Gabrielle Union, and she is gung ho on marrying him on Bravo TV in a reality wedding. About to be interviewed by the beauty Rosario Dawson who is a journalist with the NY Times, Dre discovers Dawson has panned his previous films using the alias of a man. As the film progresses, it is revealed that Dawson, also sober, has recently ended a relationship with her lover. Her discovery of his homosexuality is raw, shocking and refreshing in one hot scene which shows a woman's humiliation, exasperation and embarrassment with being in love with a closet homosexual who wants to be with a man, but is trying to make love to her.
This groundbreaking scene caused me to slip my shoes off and realize that I was not leaving the theatre. Rock's outrageousness and courage to break barriers is his forte.
In cameos Whoopi Goldberg is refreshingly candid as is Adam Sandler. These comedians outshine Jerry Seinfeld who gets lost in doing shtick when this trio has a scene together. While stars pop up, it is DMX who has the juiciest scene as in a cell he serenades Dre a sentimental melody that is so truly awful that he practically steals the film. Scenes like this make Top Five a kick- off- your -shoes- and- stay- awhile- kind -of -film though you may have grimaced or yawned earlier. Hip hop is the beat and this film's soundtrack features Jay Z, Kanye West and DMX.
New York City is the locale and filmed in a refreshing way so that various street corners and addresses bring back memories for any former New Yorkers.
On a recent talk show my favorite truism said by Chris Rock was, " Having sex with someone means people stop talking to each other. People who have sex with people shun them for life. But people never get rid of people who make them laugh."
Top Five is a reference to America's choice of Top Five comics. Chris Rock just could be number one. Certainly this film assures us that Chris Rock though he is trying to show his serious side, still makes us laugh and we will never get rid of him.