Top Five (2014)

(Video on Demand, March 2015) Chris Rock is an incredibly gifted comedian, but his fiction output as a writer/director has been disappointing so far: Head of State and I Think I Love my Wife are both OK without being spectacular, and it took Good Hair, a documentary, to showcase his talents as a filmmaker.  Fortunately, Top Five is a strong new entry in his filmography, a down-to-the-streets romance with occasional moment of lunacy, a few great performances and a warm fuzzy feeling.  The premise smells of autobiography, as a comedian feeling unmoored by commercial success rediscovers his roots over a hectic day.  And while this film is definitely Rock’s show, he surrounds himself with a steady stream of cameos, hilarious short performances and enough quotable material to last a while.  The chemistry he shares with co-star Rosario Dawson is remarkable, as she gets one of her best roles in years.  Filled with laughs, spiced with wit and never empty of real emotions, Top Five feels like the film closest to Rock’s best comic persona so far. 

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