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,
Recommendation: 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.
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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