Top Five


Release: Friday, December 12, 2014


Written by: Chris Rock

Directed by: Chris Rock

Dear Chris Rock,

I am writing this with the hope that I don’t come across as another James Nielson. Yes, I am an aspiring film critic. Over the few years since I started up my own blog I’ve bore witness to all manners of style, voice, attitude — many of them respectful, insightful, funny, informative. The range of emotion generated just from writing about the movies is something that’s often surprised me. Some tones are harsher than others, some pieces are more conversational; some points of view manifest as personal attacks on the film or the people who work hard to make them happen. (I plead the fifth on that last one.) I think one of the great joys I’ve discovered while contributing to the greater conversation is that no one is ever really wrong. And no one is 100% right.

I’m writing you because I’ve been impressed with your meta-comedy Top Five, a film that sees you tackling a different side of comedy and what makes not only comedians but celebrities tick. I figured you wouldn’t want yet another little bit of super-wordy criticism leveled at your film so here I figured I’d simply write and tell you that the tact you took with Top Five is highly appreciated. At least by me.

This is a film that I feel has taken much of your following by surprise, and maybe not necessarily for the better. I was expecting an overwhelmingly positive audience rating on major review aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes, not the tepid 66% it currently displays. But I’m not sure how much mind you pay sites like that. Personally I’m trying harder these days to not let these sites affect my own viewing experiences, so a lot of the time I won’t even go near them until after I’ve seen such-and-such movie. It’s a strategy that’s been paying off pretty well. But enough about me.

I’m writing you because I wanted to congratulate you on your effort to present some deep truths with your character, Andre Allen, who is himself a comedian enjoying fame and celebrity status with his performances in a series of comedies focusing on this character called Hammy the Bear. (You’ll have to excuse me for chuckling at that character, it’s a pretty funny creation.) If I may be so bold, I find Top Five‘s honesty a refreshing step away from your recent run of inconsistent entertainment. I sense that somewhere within the trials and tribulations of Andre Allen thrives a commentary on how you wish Grown Ups was never made. Or maybe that’s just me injecting my own concerns about your career. Not that it’s my business.

That’s one of several things Top Five opened my eyes to: the tension you (and when I say you I suppose I’m speaking to the plethora of people who choose the entertainment biz as their career) must feel in deciding whether to do something because the vast majority would approve, or do something that makes the most sense on a personal level. Each decision having its consequences, each path revealing their treacherousness that no doubt has led many astray. Compromise is the name of the game, and in playing this comedian who now wants to be taken more seriously going forward, you quite convincingly detail the struggle between impressing friends and family, giving the media what “they want,” and ultimately doing what satisfies you.

Here’s the part where I’m going to be a little self-centered. My experience with your new movie made me reflect on the last couple of years I’ve spent in the blogging community. It’s not quite like being in the limelight of superstardom and all that jazz (and woe as me, I’m sure not making millions doing this!!!), but there is always that little bit of peer pressure when one starts gaining a following — whether it be random people who do not blog or bloggers you have been following closely for some time — to maintain expectation levels and to hopefully not disappoint with each new post or idea one comes up with. The assumption that the longer one does something the easier that thing becomes is one hell of an easy one to make. Maybe for a lot of people it is true. I have found there is this challenge to always reinvent, separate one’s self out from the pack. That’s what I’ve been attempting (and a lot of the times failing) to do as of late. That’s what I see in you in Top Five. It’s actually pretty inspiring.

Anyway, at this point I’m pretty sure I’m rambling and you’ve probably even stopped reading. But I would just like to put it out there that I am one of those who appreciated your candidness and bravery for trying something new, even if it wasn’t met with an overwhelming response. (I have noticed that, in a great twist of irony, Top Five was met with much more enthusiasm from critics than the general moviegoing population.)

Or, is it ironic at all? Chris Rock, you sly dog. . . .


Your 17, 445th biggest fan,




3-5Recommendation: Top Five represents one of Chris Rock’s finest big-screen performances as well as earnest directorial visions. It’s perhaps overhyped as one of the funniest films of 2014, but to say this film isn’t funny is an equal injustice. Looking for an honest film? Look no further than Top Five, which features a ton of great cameos and humorous anecdotes. Fans of Chris Rock can’t afford to miss his most recent effort.

Rated: R

Running Time: 102 mins.

Quoted: “No, everything does not mean something. Okay, sometimes a movie is just a movie. Sometimes a song is just a song. Sometimes a joke is just a joke. Remember those, jokes?”

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19 thoughts on “Top Five

  1. Pingback: Top That: Ten Actresses Who Clearly Love Their Job | digitalshortbread

  2. What a great post here Tom! I honestly don’t know much about Chris Rock as an actor, but have been hearing great things about this film so I’m intrigued! I also love Rosario Dawson so that’s another draw for me to see this!


    • I’ve always bought into his manic activities on screen. He’s pretty funny in my book and he doesn’t have the annoying voice of Chris Tucker. For awhile I couldn’t separate Tucker from Rock, but over time it was definitely the voice.

      Rosario Dawson is great in this! I think this movie will pleasantly surprise you as it did me. 🙂


      • Ahah yeah, Chris Tucker’s voice IS annoying, but Rock’s voice doesn’t annoy me as much. Ok I’ll definitely give it a watch Tom!

        P.S. The FFTF post is up now!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah, Chris Rock has been on perpetually shaky ground for some time man. Perhaps his whole career! Hahah. The less said about Grown Ups the better, eh?

      Cheers for the read man!


  3. may check this out, Tom. your wonderful prose and style could sell me on any movie 🙂 great work on this review!


  4. Great writing! I found this one to be very Birdman-ish in its own way, but not as obvious if that makes sense.

    Also, love the part about more posts getting harder when you’d think they would become easier. It’s so weird, I haven’t been doing this as long as you have but as the readership slowly starts to increase, there is a minor level of pressure and what not to make each post better, be more timely, etc. It’s awesome you could frame what you saw in the movie it to blogging.


    • Here’s to that MMJ! Thank you for the support.

      I like the comparison to Birdman. There’s certainly a lot of meta-commentary going on here, some self-reflection and yes I agree it’s definitely nowhere near as high-brow or complex as that of Innaritu’s work. But yes, suitable comparison. Wished I had thought of that!

      Yeah man, it’s always tricky when you start building an audience. I think it’s important to remember why you started writing/blogging or doing anything in the beginning and trying to remain true to those roots. It’s easy to be led into a different direction, but then again if that different direction ends up working well for you I suppose there’s no loss there. I think it’s just awesome I’ve been able to keep this up for awhile, and I always admire others when I see them celebrating their blog/site’s anniversaries.


    • Haha, thank you sir! I tried to do something different here. Rather than analyze his new movie to death I figured I’d write a letter. (Let’s hope I hear back from him, eh?! 😉


    • Thank you! 🙂 Yeah, unfortunately I can see a lot of this film being cut out if its being edited. A real shame too, bc even though this film does have it’s fair share of “offensive” content it all works in the direction of showing Chris Rock’s character as a real, living, breathing human being. I really quite liked this.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Andre Allen and Chelsea Brown were my unanticipated favorite rom-com couple last year. Actually saw this on Christmas Eve, and my wife picked it (there’s a story there, if you’re interested to look on my blog). Fine write-up, Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you kindly! I thought the pair made for a great couple as well, even as obvious as they were from the outset. I tend to find couples who surprisingly come together through some sort of trial as my favorites but in this case I plotted out their destiny, so to speak, pretty early on. That doesn’t dismiss it as being a winning element though. This was a great film. I’m glad you found it enjoyable too.

      I’ll be sure to check out your thoughts soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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