Top Five (2014, Chris Rock)

Good combo of the Before Sunrise slow-romance and the maturing-artist drama, a nice surprise from Rock after two Grown Ups and three Madagascars. Between the Chaplin references, the wonderful Cinderella ending and the overall walky, chatty New York vibe, it feels like he’s got a sense of movie history, is trying to craft something more timeless than the usual hard-mugging studio comedy. The movie doesn’t aim for laughs in every scene, casting Rosario Dawson instead of a comedian as Rock’s foil and spending much of the plot on struggles with alcoholism (although while in jail after a drunken relapse, Rock gets serenaded by DMX, singing Chaplin’s “Smile”). Rock’s fiancee (Gabrielle Union of Bring It On, Bad Boys 2) is prepping their wedding for a Bravo series, but Rock doesn’t waste time mocking reality TV, even with both Tracy and Angie “Queen of” Jordan in his supporting cast. Dawson’s character seems to have plenty of time to hang out even though she juggles a kid, a series of relationships, alcoholics anonymous, and at least three writing personas (sex columns for Cosmo, pseudonym film reviews, plus the feature interview she’s supposedly writing on Rock). JB Smoove is cool as Rock’s friend/handler and Cedric the Entertainer is hilarious as a hedonist promoter in a low-point flashback sequence.

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