Chris Rock writes, directs and stars in Top Five, a semi-autobiographical look at a stand-up comedian turned film star looking for industry respect.
After a string of movies about a bear cop and a bout with substance abuse, Andre Allen (Rock) is taking a break from stand-up and slapstick to do “serious” movies. On the day of a big premiere, a reporter (Rosario Dawson) tags along to interview him. Rock and Dawson are fun together, while a supporting cast that includes J.B. Smoove, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union and—holy crap!—Ben Vereen score a bunch of solid laughs.
A sequence involving a cocaine-and-hooker party stands as one of the year’s funniest scenes, and Rock’s writing is solid throughout. As Chris Rock films go, this is his best starring vehicle by far. Also: Adam Sandler and Jerry Seinfeld have hilarious walk-ons. Sandler hasn’t been this funny in years. Perhaps he should allow Rock to direct him all the time. Maybe Rock can turn that whole Grown Ups franchise around!
Top Five opens Thursday, Dec. 18, at the Cinemas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).