Top Five (Cert 15)
Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, JB Smoove, Cedric The Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Sherri Shepherd.
Andre Allen (Chris Rock), star of the hugely successful Hammy The Bear film franchise, is attempting to reinvent himself by headlining a serious drama entitled Uprize, set against the turbulent backdrop of the Haitian Revolution.
Promotional duties for Uprize coincide with Andre’s forthcoming wedding to reality TV star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) so cameras are tracking their every move.
So too is reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), who has been granted a rare audience with Andre, even though her newspaper has been less than kind in the past about his work. The spark between Andre and Chelsea is palpable and as the day unfolds, they trade cheeky banter, confirm his wedding preparations with Erica’s manager Benny (Romany Malco) and give the slip to Andre’s bodyguard Silk (JB Smoove).
Directed and written by leading man Rock, Top Five is a snappily scripted comedy, which generously distributes the best lines and in-jokes among the ensemble cast. Art and life walk hand in hand here, and they are the best of friends.
Dialogue has a natural rhythm that makes it feel like we are eavesdropping on the characters mid-conversation, particularly in crowded scenes where Andre and his coterie argue about their top five favourite rappers.
Admittedly, in his role as the ringmaster of this delightful circus, Rock allows too many showbusiness chums to flash their pearly whites — DMX, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler and Jerry Seinfeld cameo as themselves — but they don’t distract from the tender love story at the heart of this little gem.