When done right, meta humour can be good fun. When done right, meta drama can be incredible. Top Five is somewhere between the two. A comedy / drama starring Chris Rock about a comedian whose past his prime, and is struggling with trying to become taken more seriously? It might as well be a documentary, and Chris Rock rivals Michael Keaton’s performance in Birdman in terms of playing an alternate universe version of himself.
Chris Rock is very funny, I’m not sure many people would argue against that, and a film directed by, written by, and starring him was always going to be funny. This is most apparent during a scene where he is (sorry, when his character Andre Allen is) doing stand up comedy, which is more or less just footage of him doing stand up. You can also feel his humour all over the rest of the film, where other characters are delivering jokes that would feel right at home-coming out of his mouth. This is by no means a bad thing, it’s just apparent that Top Five is clearly the vision of one person.
The area that this film doesn’t work quite so well is the dramatic side. That’s not to say that these parts of the film aren’t done well, but it has the same issue a lot of comedies have. The opening is great, but once the plot properly starts it slows down, and even, very occasionally, feels a little boring.
Despite this slight downside, Top Five was a lot better than I expected it would be. The biggest thing I took away from it was that Chris Rock is much more than just a funny guy. His direction is solid, but more than that his script is clever, and even subtle. He knows when the film needed to be funny, when to be serious, and how much of each to put in. I’m glad I saw Top Five, but I think his next film will be even better.
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