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Written by, directed by and starring Chris Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career - and the past - that he's left behind. (From the official Paramount synopsis)

When discussing Top Five, Chris Rock stated that he wanted to make a movie that felt more like his stand-up than the rest of his filmography, and on that front he is very successful. It helps that the character of Andre Allen isn't a departure from his celebrity persona. Allen was once a loved comedian/actor but is now considered washed up and unfunny. He's trying to make serious films that nobody cares for. I'm not sure public sentiment toward Chris Rock has ever been as negative as it is toward Andre Allen in Top Five, but I think many will agree that good Chris Rock movies are an exception. Chris Rock has always been a good supporting character for comic relief, but I can't say I've ever cared for a movie where he plays a lead.

 Top Five
I know I've watched both Down to Earth and Head of State(which Rock also helmed) at some point in time, but I can't remember a thing about them. They left no impression. But Top Five is drenched in the high-energy, irreverent comedy that has made him a successful stand-up act, and it really works. There's also some good craftsmanship behind it. This is a Chris Rock movie you can compare to Woody Allen, in a good way. Rosario Dawson gives a terrific performance. The scenes between her character and Andre Allen are where the flick shines most, and thankfully there are a lot of those. One of the movies stumbles comes in the form of a plot twist with her character that I just didn't buy, but it wasn't enough to derail my enjoyment.

Plenty of other comedy actors appear throughout the movie. There's Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer and JB Smoove to name a few. The story of Top Five, combined with the onslaught of cameos, reminded me a lot of the overindulgent Funny People. Though seeing cameo after cameo can get a bit obnoxious, most of them are used quite well and Top Five as a whole is never as excessive as Apatow's movie. I don't remember the last time Cedric the Entertainer made me laugh, but he did here. There's a DMX cameo that I won't soon forget. If you like Chris Rock's stand-up, it's a safe bet that you'll enjoy Top Five. Rock shows tremendous growth as an artist here and I hope he continues to make this kind of work.

 Top Five

Video


Top Five was shot digitally using mostly hand-held cameras, and looks great in this 1080p transfer. There is a lot of mixed media in the story, including a lot of old footage from Chris Rock's career, interviews, and clips from the fake movies that Andre Allen starred in that all take on a different look than the main parts of the movie. So visually there is a lot of variety to this transfer. The main portions of the movie look very good. Everything is very naturally lit and doesn't have that generic warm filter a lot of comedies these days use, which fits Rock's raw humor well. The transfer holds up well during unusually lit scenes as well, like scenes at night or in a neon-lit club.

Audio


The music in Top Five contains a lot of popular rapper/hip-hop artists like LL Cool J, DMX, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Even though the choices feel a bit tired and predictable, they compliment the scenes and attitude of the movie well, and they sound good on this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. A large portion of this movie is Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson's characters walking around talking to each other, so there isn't a lot to demand from the sound mix, but it keeps alive with a lot of convincing background noise from passing cars and club ambience. Sound levels were never an issue during my viewing.

 Top Five

Extras


Special features kick off with a Commentary by Chris Rock and JB Smoove. This is a pleasant enough commentary track. Chris Rock tells stories and talks about the inspiration behind scenes. JB Smoove alternates between making jokes and complimenting Chris on his choices, often managing to extract interesting information from Chris in the process. It's Never Just a Move: Chris Rock and Top Five (HD, 20:08) is a nice little look at Chris Rock's origins in comedy and the semi-autobiographical nature of the movie.

 Top Five
Next up is The Making of Top Five (HD, 10:26). This is a mixture of raw on-set footage of Chris Rock in the director role, and some interview footage with Chris and some actors talking about working with him. Much like the previous extra, this feels like more celebration of Chris Rock, which is alright with me. Top Five Andre Allen Stand-up Outtakes (HD, 06:22) is some additional footage from the Comedy Cellar scene. There's a pretty great bit about the movie 42 in here. Following is Top Five Moments You Didn't See in the Film (HD, 04:16), which is like a countdown series of some unused footage. Last up is Deleted Scenes (HD, 03:30). There are three total: two scenes of Andrew talking in front of an audience, and a Bravo television scene with Gabrielle Union's character.

 Top Five

Overall


Top Five tops the short list of good Chris Rock movies. It successfully emulates the kind of humor that made him a staple in stand-up comedy, and Rock meets his match in an awesome supporting performance from Rosario Dawson. This Blu-ray from Paramount features a few decent extras and a strong AV presentation.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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