Film review: Top Five

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 May 2015

Top Five. Picture: Ali Paige Goldstei

Top Five. Picture: Ali Paige Goldstei

© 2014 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Chris Rock's latest comedy is a mixed bag, but at least it's funny, says Michael Joyce.

In Top Five, comedian Chris Rock plays himself, only himself with a successful movie career. He’s been America’s top stand-up for around two decades but, but given the large number of films he appears in, his big screen career has been almost heroically unsuccessful. Here he writes/ directs/ stars in a vehicle that follows his alter ego over a day going around New York trying to promote his new “serious” movie, preparing for his wedding to a reality TV show star (Union) while being interviewed by journalist Dawson, who wishes he would go back to being funny.

Even though naming his character Andre Allen invites it, the one thing not to do is call this his Stardust Memories, Woody Allen’s Fellini pastiche about a director pestered for stopping making funny films. Rock doesn’t have the persona to fill the role – he isn’t a movie star and he doesn’t want to be taken seriously – and isn’t a good enough actor to create such a character. Rock is not the first performer to make a price of fame piece, but he may be the first to co-opt somebody else’s fame.

The clips we see of his film career – serious drama Uprising about a Haitian slave revolt; Hammy The Bear, his blockbuster success in which he plays a crime fighting cop bear – are ferociously unconvincing, as is most everything else in the movie. It fails on just about every level, except one – it is funny. Not consistently, and sometimes the bickering between Dawson and Rock becomes tiresome, but there are enough big laughs and name cameos (Seinfeld, Sandler) to make it passable.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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