Rock the comeback
TOP FIVE Directed by Chris Rock. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, JB Smoove, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Hart, Anders Holm, Jay Pharoah, Michael Che, Sherri Shepherd, Leslie Jones. 16 cert, limited release, 102 min Andre Allen (Chris Rock) was once named “the funniest man in America” but people mostly recognise him on the street for his hit franchise, Hammy the Bear, for which he dons a bear suit and a police uniform: “It’s Hammy time!” is his catchphrase.
Determined to restore his integrity and scared that he’s lost his comic mojo since sobering up, Allen spends a day on promotional duties for Uprize, a historical epic set during the Haitian Revolution. Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), a single mom and New York Times journalist, rides shotgun, while Allen’s reality star fiancée, Erica (Gabrielle Union), plans a ludicrously elaborate televised wedding event.
Just when you think that you’ve seen everything that stand-up, actor, writer, director, producer and documentarian Chris Rock has to offer, he only goes and makes Chris Rock’s 8½ .
Top Five unfolds over “one fateful day”, which proves time enough for some of Rock’s characteristically hilarious rants and many, many celebrity cameos: watch out for BFs Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler and Whoopi Goldberg – there will be banter – and an
exquisitely demented musical number from DMX.
The film’s semi-autobiographical dimension, with a nod to Louis CK and Curb Your
It’s Hammy time: Chris Rock
Enthusiasm, offers lots of small pleasures and a spot-on depiction of how film promotion works: “Do it with 10 per cent more stank,” says one radio engineer as the film’s hero records a station ID.
Beneath the meta-fiction and the lulz lies a genuinely warm romance in the style of Richard Linklater’s Before
Sunrise. Dawson, as luminous as ever, proves a worthy verbal sparring partner for motormouthed Rock.
Stay tuned as the final credits roll for Jerry Seinfeld’s top five hip-hop artists.