Top Five

Chris Rock's Top Five is the densely comical and thought-provoking story of a former standup comedian and costumed film star whose "funny" was stolen by alcohol. (Whisky shtick?) On the wagon now with the help of his babalicious reality TV star fiancee (Gabrielle Union), Andre "Dre" Allen (Rock) is celebrating both the release of his first dramatic feature -- Uprizing, an unintentionally ludicrous recounting of a slave revolt  in Haiti, the first such revolt in the Western Hemisphere -- and his marriage to his Dream Girl. Allen is being interviewed by a skeptical and, herself, "recovering" New York Times arts writer played by Rosario Dawson. After they lay down a few ground rules about the interview, they have some interesting conversations about fame and family, love and trust, sex, sanity and sobriety. These Rock has explored in his stand-up routines for years. Rock, who also has written and directed this entertaining romp, is offering two things to his fans: (1) a soulful and insightful statement about celebrity, and (2) a house party to which he has invited a couple dozen of his favorite people -- Cedric the Entertainer, JB Smoove, Jerry Seinfeld, SNL's Lisa Jones, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, among them. Rock smartly maneuvers this picture between the rocky shoals of race, class and gender politics and comes out, in the end, with an enormously enjoyable piece of work. Highly recommended.


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