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The Mass Media

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson star in “Top Five,” in theaters Dec. 12

Top+Five+starring+Chris+Rock+and+Rosario+Dawson%2C+in+theaters+Dec.+12
‘Top Five’ starring Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson, in theaters Dec. 12

Most of us know Chris Rock best for his stand-up and not his previous two cinematic expeditions, but his upcoming film Top Five will likely change our perspective on Rock’s versatile comedic abilities. The film, directed and written by Rock, follows the struggles of actor Andre Allen, who tries to move on from comedy into more serious gigs.
We find Allen in the midst of his attempted transition. After a series of films in his role as “Hammy the Bear,” a cop’s side-kick in a bear costume, Allen stars in a poorly received film about a Haitian slave rebellion.
Allen holds onto the film as his debut as a “serious actor,” a central element in his identity, as he struggles with overcoming his alcoholism and a huge life change — a highly publicized wedding with a reality television figure (Gabrielle Union). The movie is set in a 24-hour period, during which New York Times journalist Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) accompanies him throughout the day.
The humor of the film attests to Rock’s profound stand-up. If you enjoy his traditional biting, often racially and sexually charged humor, you are bound to find Allen’s experiences funny.
At times, the sense of humor seems a little too forced. For instance, Brown’s dramatic accounts of her sexual experiences with her in-the-closet boyfriend or Allen’s experiences with some hookers after a club.
Still, much of the humor is impressively witty, featuring much of Rock’s stand-up approaches to comedy. Rock’s humor slips into even the smallest moments of Allen’s and Brown’s time together as they walk about New York, successfully building up their predictable but charming romantic chemistry.
The film is an interesting blend of seriousness and humor. It actually manages to address a lot of big concerns Rock has noticed about our society, ranging from the treatment of black celebrities versus white celebrities in our culture, to substance abuse.
Alcoholism becomes a surprisingly important theme in the film, and though Rock frequently approaches the problem with humor, subtle elements of the film touch upon the subject with incredible sensitivity.
The character development is gradual but endearing, especially as we see Allen’s roots in the projects with cameos from comedians like Tracy Morgan and Kevin Hart playing hilarious characters from Allen’s youth.
Brown gets her fair share of character development as well and proves to be a powerful character in and of herself. Her intelligence and wit end up being an excellent backdrop for her own struggles with alcoholism and romance, giving solid ground for her developing friendship and eventual romance with Allen.
At the end of the film, we even get some action from big names like Adam Sandler and Whoopi Goldberg.
Overall, Rock’s film, although sometimes too over-the-top and predictable, serves as an excellent commentary on very real and relatable issues despite his fame. The central problem of being unable to blend who he is with his career aspirations, as well as facing race issues and substance abuse.