Top Five was heralded as a return to form for Chris Rock and I’ve always been a fan of Chris Rock and even through some of the missteps, I knew he had talent that would eventually reemerge. Well, unfortunately, it hasn’t yet and this is just another misstep. It’s the story of a comedian who’s gone to Hollywood and made a few incredibly popular, but incredibly stupid comedies; he’s now attempting to cross over into serious art movies by starring in a movie he’s written and directed about a slave uprising in Haiti. The brief glimpses we get of this hideously bad, pretentious slave movie are some of the funniest things in the movie. But unfortunately, as Rock’s character spends the day strolling around town with Rosario Dawson’s reporter character giving a long-form, rambling interview, there just isn’t much of any interest. The drama falls flat; Rock and Dawson both have limitations in this area, though they do get a few moments here and there right. And the comedy, which both Rock and Dawson are typically very good at, just isn’t that funny most of the time. There are some exceptions that demonstrate just how hilarious this movie could have been. An extended sequence with Cedric the Entertainer as a slovenly, repulsive comedy club owner is absolute hysterical and some of the best gross-out comedy I’ve seen in years; I was simultaneously laughing at the top of my lungs and cringing during this whole bit. And a later sequence with Anders Holm playing Dawson’s boyfriend, a guy with a very specific sexual fetish is wonderful as well. But these just light up how bland the rest of the movie is. In both drama and comedy, the film resists pushing the envelope and it takes only the safest of shots at its targets. The film could have been a raunchy, but still emotionally involving film, but it’s instead a disappointing failure. Still, it’s not dreadful, just mostly flat. I mean, whatever. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – story of down on his luck comedian tries to marry comedy and drama, but only sporadically manages to be effective in either. 2 ½ stars.