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5 Reasons You Need To See "Top Five"

Chris Rock is back in a big way with his latest film, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival.

TORONTO — Top Five, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6, tells the story of comedic actor Andre Allen (Chris Rock), who is trying, unsuccessfully, to take on more serious roles. In an attempt to reshape his career, Andre agrees to allow a journalist to follow him around on the opening day of his most recent film, which happens to be just days before his nationally televised wedding to a reality star. The movie is expected to be a blockbuster hit, and it should be. Here's why:

1. The cast


Not only does this film star Rock (who also wrote and directed), but Rosario Dawson plays journalist Chelsea Brown, Gabrielle Union is Andre's reality TV star fiancée Erica, Kevin Hart plays Allen's agent, and Tracy Morgan, Sherri Shepherd, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah are old friends of Andre's who hang out with him in his childhood neighborhood.

It feels like with each new scene, another actor, comedian, or musician is added to Top Five's lengthy credits: Ben Vereen has a quick cameo as Andre's father, who is busting his son with some cruel jokes one minute and then asking for money the next; Cedric the Entertainer and Hayley Marie Norman partake in a promiscuous flashback scene with the actor, as does Anders Holm with Chelsea; J.B. Smoove is Andre's best friend and body guard; Romany Malco has a few quick shots directing Erica as a Bravo producer; and Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, and Whoopi Goldberg hang out with Andre at his bachelor party, cracking jokes, giving him life advice, and (in the case of Seinfled) tossing some dollar bills. There are even a few other cameos, but for the sake of not giving away every storyline, I won't reveal them.

Also, as an added bonus, Jerry Seinfeld lists his Top Five musical acts as the end credits roll.

2. The comedy


Sure, there are some standard jokes from Rock that cover everything from sexual escapades to gender roles to racial stereotypes, but he also makes fun of pretty much every industry, highlighting reality TV "life" and mocking Hollywood. And there is plenty of provocative language, but Rock does a nice job of towing the line in that regard without going off the edge. He even turns the humor on himself, like when Andre spends hours doing radio interviews and recording a satellite radio commercial to promote his new movie.

3. The romance


Surprisingly, Top Five is, at its heart, a rom-com. Andre and Chelsea develop a really lovely relationship that never feels predictable or generic. They share stories and sweet moments together — jumping rope in New York City's West Village was particularly adorable — and are able to have honest, genuine conversations. Rock also does a nice job in a few instances of transitioning from a raunchy flashback into an emotional moment. Plus, a widely beloved childhood love story comes into play.

4. The writing


Rock is known for doing stand-up, so it's no real shock that his ability to pull together a script with a lot of different angles really shines in Top Five. The story could have so easily failed: an actor whose career is falling apart fast takes desperate (read: pathetic) measures to save it? Hollywood has been there and done that too many times. But Rock's film is different. It doesn't feel like it's already been told. He does an excellent job of keeping his jokes current, addressing what's going on in today's society, from high brow to low and everything in between. Nothing and no one is safe, from hot sauce to President Obama to Google Glasses (which, he jokes, could one day soon be the way people watch movies). And he somehow penned a touching moment in a strip club.

5. The relatability


On the most basic level, what Top Five is really about is a truly terrible day in the life of Andre Allen. It's the release day of his first serious movie, but no one will take him seriously — and the movie is a total flop at the box office. He is best known for his Hammy films, where he dressed up in a bear suit, and is constantly asked when the fourth edition in the series is going to be made. And Andre spends the day going back and forth between listening to his wife order him around for the camera crews and telling personal, private stories to a journalist for the paper that has ripped him apart for years. While most people can't relate to having a film career, having their life documented, or being engaged to reality star, it's still easy to empathize with Andre.

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