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TOP FIVE

SYNOPSIS: A comedian (Chris Rock) tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancˇ (Gabrielle Union) talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show. Meanwhile, a journalist (Rosario Dawson) is commissioned to spend the day with him for an insight into the real man.

Review by Louise Keller:
I love Top Five. There's an appealing energy about it: it feels like a cross between a stand up comedy routine and a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into celebrity life, skimming, prodding and delving into issues big and small. Cleverly structured as an interview between Chris Rock's comedian Andre Allen and New York Times' multi-faceted journalist Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), the action rolls out over 24 hours in New York City, when Andre, who complains he doesn't feel funny any more, proceeds to be exceedingly funny in a myriad of different ways. It's the anything goes style of comedy - one minute it's raunchy and crass, the next it's heartfelt and sincere, and Rock nails it all with unbridled charm, charmingly supported by Dawson.

Rock has written a script that spools out effortlessly. Sometimes a movie is just a movie, Rock and Dawson debate in the opening scenes, but this movie is one that plays out like one complete breath - breath freshener included. Movies, reality TV, relationships, role-playing, sobriety, self-image and rigorous honesty are some of the topics canvassed. It's fast and real, funny and outrageous, cutting and poignant by its truthfulness.

There are two risquˇ flashback segments: His and Hers. His depicts Andre's recollection of the moment he reaches bottom - a drunken orgy in Houston involving two happy hookers, a feather pillow fight and a raucous turn by Cedric the Entertainer. Hers is a wild scene involving her boyfriend's perverse sexual preferences, the ending of which you are not likely to forget.

The storyline has Andre doing the media rounds, with Chelsea tagging along, as he promotes his new suss-looking film about slave rebellion in Haiti. But the world wants him to be funny and he worries, now that he has stopped drinking, that he cannot be. The fact that everyone is more interested in his earlier Hammy bear comedies and his upcoming high profile wedding to reality star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), for whom everything is for sale, is a satirical reflection on today's attitudes. Gratitude, not love is the reason for the nuptials - Erica having pulled Andre from the quagmire of alcoholism. There's a lovely dynamic between Rock and Dawson and the fact that their characters open up to each other with more 'rigorous honesty' than expected, is of course to be expected.

Other plot points include a ferocious movie reviewer named James Niesen, Chelsea's love for hot chilli sauce, wedding gift bags with something for everyone, a Cinderella project and interesting cameos from celebrities who debate infidelity and their Top Five hip hop artists. As for the ending - it is perfect!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TOP FIVE (M15+)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Adam Sandler, Kevin Hart, Ben Vereen, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld

PRODUCER: Eli Bush, Barry Diller, Scott Rudin

DIRECTOR: Chris Rock

SCRIPT: Chris Rock

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Manuel Alberto Claro

EDITOR: Anne McCabe

MUSIC: Ludwig Goransson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Hoover

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 12, 2015







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