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Top Five

01 Jan

Top Five – written and directed by Chris Rock. Comedy/Drama. 112 minutes Color 2104

★★★★★

The Story: As he walks around the city a top comedian with a serious movie coming out is interviewed by a woman from The Times.

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I had never seen Chris Rock before, save MCing the Oscars. He was fine, but I saw that he was a cute, black guy who told jokes, and none of those things interested me enough to see him again. Then I read a review of Top Five, saying the movie was really funny. So I went.

The movie is not really funny, and once I got over my expectation that it was supposed to be, I found it really entertaining and humorous. I loved it.

He walks around town on his professional errands being queried by Rosario Dawson, and they bring out the best in each other, by which I mean they bring out what is human and real. I was delighted to watch them.

Their adventures take them into a scene with his family members in the Projects, and it all looks wild and improvised and a whole lot of fun. However, it must also have been carefully written and well rehearsed and skillfully shot for it to work as well it does. I don’t get inside black folks homes when in family; I surprised myself being invited there.

Rock also has big scenes with Cedric The Entertainer who takes over Rock and the screen and the whole state of Texas and two ladies of the night all in one day or night. I could scarcely understand a word he said, but I didn’t mind one bit, his attitude told all. He also has a bodyguard mentor beautifully played by  J.V. Smoove.

With Dawson he has a quickie in a low down T-room that’s rich and witty. She accompanies him on interviews and at last to a bachelor party, for the film hangs between two clothes hooks. The line on which it is all hung is that both of them are former addicts.

One hook is his approaching, arranged marriage to a Reality TV actress with nothing to her name but her celebrity. The other hook is the opening of his film on the Haitian slave revolution – which no one wants to see. Action/adventure is not his speed.

What is his speed is that he is a wonderful, natural screen actor. One wants to watch him. One wants to see his response to life and to Dawson, and the same is true of Dawson. He is open and easy and apt. He is also smart, which makes me smart too.

And what’s even better he is shown in long, extended scenes that develop and expand and require human speech. One is allowed in. The film is a grown-up movie. One is permitted to have an experience, not one shoved down one’s throat. The lovely thing about it for me is how old fashioned and friendly to its audience it is, and how much it asks from us. I dove right in and did my part and enjoyed myself no end.

 

 
 
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