HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Top 5
HTS Overall Score:83
The life of a comedian isn’t always fun and games. It’s fairly common knowledge that a large percentage of comedians have had a very rough growing up, as most humor is born out of pain. We see people like Robin Williams, who has made us laugh for decades, come to a violent end and we realize all too late that there was some issues behind the scenes that no one could see. “Top 5” is Chris Rock’s take on that whole world, with a semi-biographical look at his own life, just wrapped up in a fictional narrative. We see a man’s rise to fame, then crash down around his ears as his personal life is finally cleaned up, and then once again start to see that rise as he recaptures his edge. The film shows a rather balanced look at the life of a famous man, and shows the various pitfalls, the lost joys and the pain that comes from such stardom.
Andre Allen (Chris Rock) cut his teeth in the standup circuit (much like Chris Rock did), and then after success in that arena, moved on into making movies (as did Chris Rock). The only problem happened to be the fact that he was a raging alcoholic, making life miserable for himself and those around him. Striking rock bottom, Andre has only up to go and finally makes the changes necessary in his life to go sober. However, now that he’s sober, he’s lost his edge. All those funny moments on stage, or in front of the camera happened to be fueled by the fact that he was dead drunk or high as a kite, basically the one thing that gave him his edge was the one thing that nearly destroyed his life. Now fast forward 4 years later and Andre is struggling to make it as a serious actor. His new movie is not trending well and times are bleak. Suckered into an impromptu interview, Andre opens up and shows us just what makes a famous funny man tick.
The interview is fairly standard until Andre realizes that Chelsea (Rosario Dawson) is also a recovering alcoholic. From there the movie gets a lot more personal as the two spend the day together, with her asking questions and he answering or showing her parts of his life. As much as it starts off as an interview about him, Andre gets a glimpse into her life as well, and gets to see the view from the other side. The movie takes about a half an hour to really get going, but once Chris finds his groove “Top 5” starts to get better and better. Most dramedy’s tend to be HEAVY on the drama and very light on comedy (or have a lot of Black Comedy written in) but “Top 5” manages to be very serious yet be interrupted by scenes that will have you rolling on the floor. The scene where Chelsea describes how she might have known that her boyfriend was gay had me in stitches. I think rewound it twice because I was laughing so hard. Chris Rock just can’t help but have some over the top raunchy humor in his movies, or it just WOULDN’T be a Chris Rock movie. The flair and style written all over the movie just reeked of his penmanship.
While it had its funny moments, the real struggles that Andre faces are something that face a lot of celebrities and funny men. What made them “great” in the eyes of the public is the same thing that ruin many of them. Drugs, Alcohol, Sex, the whole gambit fuels these men and women into larger than life characters that we can laugh with/at, and at the end of the day, without those flaws we very well may not find them as funny. Through wit, and pain Chris paints a rather enjoyable picture of how one man got his groove back (that’s not just relegated to Stella). It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s deeply saddening, but at the end of the day it’s still inspiring to watch a man overcome his issues and regain the courage to do what makes him happy, even if it takes years to actually do so.
I was kind of worried about Chris Rock pulling off a director’s job, a writer’s job AND an actor’s job, but I’m please to say that he does a very solid job. There’s a few times in the film where I felt he went a bit overboard with the clichés and once or twice where I felt the pacing was off, but overall I had a really good time watching “Top 5”. Chris has always been a FANTASTIC stand-up comedian, but his movie choices have been lackluster to say the least (although his TV show “What About Chris” nailed it out of the park). He’s had some good roles, but when he gets back to his stand-up roots you can see his skill set shine. The funniest part of the whole movie was Andre actually getting back up on stage again and doing and impromptu set. Chris Rock’s razor sharp wit cuts through and made me laugh the entire set. The cameos in the movie were a lot of fun too as we get to see little drop ins from Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Hart, and playing themselves, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler. We don’t get to see much of Gabriel Union as the girlfriend, but I have no complaints there, as she nailed the character.
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40450[/img]Paramount brings their A game to the table with “Top 5”, presenting us with an excellent 1080p AVC encoded Blu-ray to enjoy. I usually don’t expect dramas to look top tier, but “Top 5” shows some amazing pop and clarity from the get go. Colors are bright and cheerful, with natural looking skin tones and a balanced contrast level. Detail is through the roof as you can see every glossy bit of L.A. as well as the fibers on clothing and the stubble on Chris’s face. Check out the ring shopping scene and watch as the light plays across the class and the reflections seen through it. The detail will make you marvel. Black levels are deep and inky, even in the dark night club scenes, and show off plenty of fine detail. There’s a few moments where I THINK I saw some crush, but it was very minor. The disc itself appears to be free of any compression issues and digital manipulation is pretty much nonexistent as this digital image looks glossy and shiny, straight from the digital tap.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40458[/img]While a well encoded and top tier video encode is a bit uncommon for a comedy, what’s REALLY uncommon is having a top tier audio track. Usually a film like “Top 5” is very front heavy and lacks a lot of the finer points in the surround department. Not so here, as the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is quite impressive in both sonic accuracy and immersion level. The dialog shows no flaws and while it is the main focus of the movie, doesn’t act superior to all the other channels on your receiver set. The surrounds are constantly active with the sound of a bustling metropolitan city with taxi cabs whizzing in every direction and the night club moments really pounding out the LFE and showing some amazing directionality. While the club sequences show some heavy duty LFE and there’s a few moments that add in some unexpected oomph, the rest of the track is rather soft on the bass, with it adding in some nice effects here and there, but mostly staying in the background.
• Audio Commentary
• It's Never Just a Movie: Chris Rock and "Top Five"
• The Making of "Top Five"
• Top Five Andre Allen Standup Outtakes
• Top Five Moments You Didn't See in the Film
• Deleted Scenes
“Top 5” takes a bit of time to really build up steam, but the end result is definitely worth it. The movie is good up until the last third, but once those stories start coming together and revealing a few things behind the scenes, we start seeing the endgame that Chris Rock has for us. Taken as semi biographical we can certainly assume that the premise of the story (although maybe not the actual EVENTS) ring very close to the truth in his life and we can see the struggle and façade that many a funny man has to put out there to get the public to like them. Paramount certainly did an excellent job with the discs as the video and audio are superb with a very satisfying array of extras. Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabriel Union
Directed by: Chris Rock
Written by: Chris Rock
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 17th 2015
Buy Top 5 On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Out
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