Ordinarily this is the part where I use my opening sentence to give you guys a quick summation of what makes Top Five special, but truthfully, there’s so much that makes this film special that it deserves better than that so here we go.
This is a story of a successful comedic actor Andre Allen (played superbly by Chris Rock), who happens to have a few issues that have derailed his mojo and hence his career and he’s trying to straighten all that out and get back on top. He has a beautiful fiancée (who just happens to have a reality show) and a staff whose sole job it is to keep him OUT of trouble. The thing is, he’s headlining a new film that’s a DRAMA instead of the comedies he’s known for and people aren’t warming up to this new Andre, and not believing that a tiger can ever change his stripes. He meets this beautiful reporter for the NYT Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) who wants to follow him around for a day as press for the movie and as press for his rapidly approaching wedding to the aforementioned fiancée.
The insane chemistry and back and forth between Andre and Chelsea. He’s not a willing participant in this interview solely because he’s been burned by the NYT before regarding his OTHER films which are absolute trash. And Chelsea (played by the perfect partner in Rosario Dawson) isn’t exactly the type to NOT get what she wants and she wants an exclusive entrance into the Andre who started from the bottom and now he’s here (and yes that’s corny but trust me when you see it, it WILL make sense).
There’s a vibrancy and electricity that you can visibly see flowing back and forth between these two and no I don’t mean romantically, they’re not yin and yang, more like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers whose steps mirror each other so perfectly and so intensely it would creep an unappreciative person out! It works and it works brilliantly. There’s so much more to this pairing, just like there’s so much more to this film.
Another thing that works extremely well is the beautiful use of New York City as a backdrop. Not only are we gifted with the wondrous sights and sounds, but we also share in the magic spells that were cast not only to create these two characters, but also we are privy to racial and socioeconomic commentary that is linked to key parts and characters in the film (and no not just these two) and you realize just how essential those things are, and how ones culture manifest itself in who we’ve become. We meet Andre’s family, people from his past-some who had just as much influence on who he became as whom he did NOT. (This is KEY-remember this)
Silk, (J.B Smoove who handled that I must say) is Andre’s handler and childhood friend who keeps him focused and out of trouble. But don’t minimize him to being Andre’s bodyguard because he’s so much more than that. He brings a sense of warmth and nuance to the relationship between he and Andre and yet his sense of loyalty and devotion that others might give a negative assessment to, really is an about the understanding of Andre’s biggest desires and goals, and even more so his greatest fears. Silk is an anchor, a link not so much to the past, but to the truth which is oftentimes the only ground we have left to stand upon when all else fails.
What Does Not Work:
Houston, we have a problem is all I’m going to say and leave it at that. (You have to SEE it to believe it!)
The relationship between Andre and his fiancée Erica (played enjoyably by Gabrielle Union-Wade). Why? Because we don’t really get an opportunity to see WHY these two are together. It’s implied, but it’s a hard sell because there just isn’t enough screen time, connection, and momentum in the limited scenes between these two. Andre tells you WHY there together, but telling us is not the same as making us SEE why and it comes across as forced and underdeveloped.
Another thing that just seems out of place is the relationship between Chelsea and her boyfriend Brad. From the moment we first meet Chelsea there isn’t ANYTHING about her that screams, I have a boyfriend or significant other. She’s a bit star struck from the time she first encounters Andre and that pretty much continues in one way or another to the very end of the film.
Make no mistake, Top Five isn’t a RomCom. It’s very much a comedy with romantic thematic elements. There’s not much missing from the gem of a film, and there are so many wonderful and unexpected cameos that are just so much fun and add a bit of depth that we weren’t expecting.
I highly recommend it, and it earns a well-deserved #MUSTSEE from me! Have fun and enjoy!
Joyll Cambridge hails from Manchester, United Kingdom and currently lives in New York, New York. She loves all things movies, fitness and swirling. To read Joyll’s personal blog at The Humanist Exec, click here.
Joyll joined our team as our Resident Movie Reviewer. To contact Joyll or request a review of a specific movie, email her at SheCritiques@TheSwirlWorld.com.
Copyright ©2014 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Movie poster from the movie “Top Five” obtained from IMDB.