This week's chamber:
Top Five, The Imitation Game, and Wild

Top Five
"Smile muthafucka!"

For those that this matters towards and those that it doesn’t – here are my top five rappers: NAS, Notorious B.I.G, Rakim, Ghostface Killah and Rick Tha Ruler (Old School baby!) - Chris Rock is back harnessing his full Woody Allen while keeping it somewhat real trying to prove he still can’t hail a cab as black man, when the meter is running and his cabbie awaits their destination. Rock, who is gifted ferociously funny and redundantly corny, gives you a performance you can expect, but he does sharpen his suit and filmmaking eye to hit you where it counts: LETTING YOU KNOW WHAT’S AUTHENTIC AND WHAT ISN’T and he is the person to tell you where it stands. Sidepieced by Rosario Dawson, our hero is being interviewed for a new article on Rock’s cooked up Haitian Revolution diluted historical exploitative motion picture titled “Uprize” that’s right, Uprize with a “Z”. The New York times comes a calling and sends Rosario and her squarish cinder blocked cheek boned self to interview Andre, and get a sense as to who this man really is besides, his basic bitch “Hammy the Bear” super-cop wanderlust former pathetic franchise.

Like Innirtu’s Birdman, credibility is under Rock’s scrutiny. He banters to a hasten wit with Dawson as the ample and statuesque "loversary." Nothing that Rock deals with aside from his persona relationships ring authenticity. His “fiancé” Gabrielle Union is a reality star that must have every moment with Allen on camera. Speaking of the lens, Top Five is filmed with a lean wide lens perspective. Rock knows what he is doing with his frames, multiplied with the conscientious dialog, the beginning scenes set a responsive and wondrous start to something that appeared to be fresh. It was not. Rock is at his best when combating with Dawson and they both chew the air like a pack of bubbleicious gum. However, when he is alone, deep pocketing a retread joke, Top Five loses some of its power, its relevance, its freshness.

The further the movie progresses the more tonal trouble finds Rock. On one hand he is being observational, pithy and biting with his commentary-humorous delivery, but when he tries to pratfall for an schticky joke, Top Five ends up at the bottom of the list. Moments of truism are few and far between, but in scenes with his family (hilariously effective Leslie Jones and always reliable Tracy Morgan) add a bright spot giving understanding to Rock’s intentions and motivations. Also, Dark Man X shows up for a well-timed rocket fueled cameo. Good at times, average at times, and not nearly as funny from a farcical standpoint than from a commentary assault, Top Five, lacks focus for the most part regardless of the solid chemistry between its leads.

Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he's left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah.


2.5 out of 4