Welcome to another edition of Movie Review Monday!
This week's film is 2014's Top Five, starring Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson among a stellar ensemble cast of comedians and actors.
Top Five follows a sort of dramatized version of reality, where Rock's character Andre Allen, is a fictional mouthpiece for struggles common to Rock (and surely other comedians and actors like him), such as authenticity, integrity, creativity, and addiction. It feels very similar to the movie Funny People, or the television show Louiein certain respects. Other entertainment industry shows like Extras (or the several others out there) also hold a lot of thematic similarities to Top Five, just to get a flavor for this movie since it feels so unique to me. While it falls into a pantheon of other great shows and movies, it falls a bit short for me in the end.
The movie as a whole is pretty funny. It's not uproariously hilarious, nor is it unfunny, it has some humorous moments, and was a pleasure to watch, but it could probably be better billed as a "dramedy" (drama + comedy). Allen struggles with alcoholism, his personal motivation for where his life is going, people taking him seriously, and relationship woes. Rock imbues the character and his struggles with a reliability and his unique swagger, so it makes the proceedings engaging enough to watch.
All of the other actors in the movie shine in their brief roles. Tracy Morgan, Michael Che, Jay Pharaoh, Gabrielle Union, and Leslie Jones specifically all hold their own, and Dawson is fantastic as her character, reporter Chelsea Brown, accompanies Rock's character around for most of the film. There are also some really fun cameos later in the film that made the whole viewing experience even better.
I'd recommend folks check this movie out, especially if you're a fan of Chris Rock and/or comedy as an art form. It explores issues that I found interesting and I think others like me would as well.