First Hit: Although there were some funny bits, this film was disappointing.
I’ve been a Chris Rock fan for as long as I can recall. I, unfortunately, came to this film with hopes of seeing something interesting and good.
What I felt was bored about 1/8 of the way in until the last ¼ of the film when it got interesting and with some traction. That is not to say that there weren’t parts in between those two points that I didn’t laugh or enjoy – it is just that they were few and far between. To point out one of those segments was when he was with family or the people he grew up with – they had some funny riffs.
Here “Top Five” refers to the top five rappers each character is asked to state. The film is about Andre Allen (Rock) who is trying to promote what he thinks is a serious film about a black slave uprising in Honduras. The small clips the audience sees of the film shows that it is horrible. He’s also marrying Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) a reality TV star with no discernible talent.
To use a vehicle to discover where Allen is in his life the film uses a reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) who also masquerades as a male New York Times critic by another name who always bashes Allen’s “Hammy” films. Her interviewing him gives context to discover Allen's state of mind. We know what is going to happen at the beginning of the film and the path to the end is predictable and lacks imagination. What is worse the whole “Top Five” bit isn’t strong enough to create a touchstone or transition touchstone.
Rock only stands out when he does a brief standup routine. It is also where he discovers what he’s good at doing. Else Rock is monotone and appears bored. Union is fine as the reality star that wants to marry Allen because she has nothing else going for her. Dawson is the best thing about this film and there are scenes where she shines. J.B. Smoove is strong as Silk, Allen’s bodyguard. Rock both wrote and directed this film and although he had good intentions, it fell flat.
Overall: This was a poorly constructed film although the intention might have been good.