If Chris Rock’s movies were as good as his interviews, he’d be racking up year-end critics’ awards right about now. The comedian has been smart and funny—riffing on politics, race, and Hollywood—in his publicity marathon for Top Five, a starring vehicle he also wrote and directed. But at some point, the actual film has to open, and, well—too bad. This one is a marked advance over Rock’s previous directing fling, I Think I Love My Wife (2007), a stillborn remake of Eric Rohmer’s French New Wave classic Chloe in the Afternoon. But it’s much less savvy than his stand-up observations.
The story unfolds over the course of a long day in New York, as a once-popular comedian named Andre Allen (Rock) desperately promotes his new movie.