Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
In the spirit of Chris Rock's 'Top Five' let's get this out of the way…

Chuck D. and Public Enemy
Whodini… somewhere my cousin weeps due to this choice
Big Daddy Kane
The Merciless Amir… local.  Devastating.
Rakim.  Any list without him on it makes that list invalid.

And a couple of casual observations… In this movie Rock's character of Andre Allen is engaged to Gabrielle Union, who apparently he dumped Taraji P. Henson for, with Gabrielle likely to be dumped before this movie goes off in favor of Rosario Dawson.  Hell, if I were writer / director of my own movie I don't think I could dream up a fantasy scenario much better than that one.  Bravo Chris Rock.

Adam Sandler makes a cameo at Andre Allen's bachelor party.  Funniest Adam has been in like his last ten movies.

And not that Chris Rock would take time out of his busy day to read this, but if by chance he does… What does a brother have to do to get one of those 'Uprise' movie posters?   Anyway…

Rock is superstar comedian / actor Andre Allen and today is a big day for Andre as his new movie, 'Uprise', chronicling the slave rebellion in Haiti, is opening on this day.  Andre really needs this movie to explode, even though his Hammy the Bear series of films, where he plays a cop in a bear suit, have made him filthy rich, he needs to be taken seriously as an actor.  Plus he is to be married the drop dead gorgeous reality TV star Erica Long (Union) in a few days, so he has a lot on his plate.
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As Andre makes the press tour to promote his movie, his handlers have wrangled an interview with the New York Times, an enterprise Andre hates since the times film critic has written some truly hateful, and seemingly personal things about Andre's movies.  We here at the FCU find that kind of critical behavior simply deplorable by the way.  So Andre doesn't want to do this interview with The Times, but it is The Times for goodness sakes, plus the reporter they sent, Chelsea Brown (Dawson) has already shown up, and she is a sweetheart, unlike that jerk of a Times film critic, so the interview takes place as Chelsea follows Andre and gets in his brain while he promotes his movie.  Which quite honestly looks awful. 

So Andre and Chelsea walk around New York City, they laugh, they bicker, they learn they have a lot in common, and sure… they are both romantically connected to others in a significant way at the present time… but whatever.  Love might be on the horizon for these two.  Who have known each other for about six hours.  Until revelations make the love fade away.  Until the love is rekindled through the magic of stand-up comedy.  Who knew?

After watching 'Top Five', a person asks me… 'Was this better than CB4'?   Well… if that's what the goal was with 'Top Five', to make it better than CB4 which I believe is the beginning and the end for the film career of Chris Rock when it comes to this person… then yes… 'Top Five' is better than 'CB4'.  In fact 'Top Five' is the best movie Chris Rock has ever headlined.  By far. 

Remember when Adam Sandler started headlining movies and had this unique brand of humor, lifted from his SNL life, that was evident in films like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy?  Until he went completely mainstream and kind of started to suck a little?  With 'Top Five' Chris Rock's film career seems to be just the opposite.  He started out making these semi-awful Pryor-esque films, when he should've been making movies more true to his actual comedy style like this all along.  'Head of State' and 'Down to Earth' and 'Bad Company' be damned I say.   Forgot about 'Bad Company', didn't you?

And this is what sets 'Top Five' apart in that it is hardcore Chris Rock.  It's a funny film, but certainly not a laugh a minute laugh fest.  It's a little too hard edged and mean-spirited in spots to be that kind of movie.  As is typical in Rock's stand-up, there are references to racism, sexism, homophobia, police brutality, abuse, male-female relationships, with unique takes... or possibly actual attacks... on the entertainment business, but wrapped around the gauze of a semi-romantic comedy.  And even that kind of flips it on its ear as Girl has Boy, Girl loses Boy, and now Girl has to get the Boy back.
It also doesn't hurt to pick up a phone and call Kevin Hart, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Whoopi Goldberg, Cedric the Entertainer, and Tracy Morgan to take time out for an afternoon to be in your movie.  Not to mention DMX who was particularly inspiring in his one scene.

True, Chris Rock still isn't much of an actor beyond Basic Rock, but the director seemed to be aware of his star's limitations and kept him in check and largely played to his strengths.  There were a couple scenes in this film which were very uncomfortable to sit through, but it does earn it's R-rating honestly,  And I'm not too sure I brought into the flowering love between Andre and Chelsea in the incredibly brief time they spent together, but what are you gonna do? 

So yes, strange person asking me strange questions, 'Top Five' is better than 'CB4', and here's to us hoping that going forward we can see the real Chris Rock from now on.  That would mean no more 'Grown-Ups' movies. 
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