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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chris Rock's "Top Five." Amos and Andy for 2014

"Top Five" is billed as a romantic comedy. Chris Rock plays Andre, a movie star comedian; Rosario Dawson plays Chelsea, a journalist sent to interview him. Their relationship is not what I will remember about "Top Five," though. What I will remember: the words f---, m-----------, s---, the b word, the p word and the n word. These words constitute a good twenty-five percent of the script, as in "Hey, n word, would you like an f word drink?" "Yes, n word, I would like an f word drink." In other words, the obscenities are sprinkled throughout the script without adding any meaning.

Most of the female characters onscreen are vile, naked, prostitutes and strippers. There are many naked female body parts onscreen. These female bodies are there to perform simulated sex acts. They also rob strip club patrons, and hide their wallets in their private parts. After servicing a couple of men, they extort money by screaming "Rape!"

I don't understand why anybody made "Top Five." If you want to hear unfunny jokes whose only appeal is to those who think repeating the f word and the n word over and over is funny, and if you want to ogle naked female characters who are also made out to be nasty human beings, why would you go to see a movie billed as a "romantic comedy"?

Chris Rock knows he lives in a country where a white person could lose his job, his friends, and his social respect for using the n word. But he, Rock, can use it, because he is black. By using the n word repeatedly, he rubs his audience's face in the privilege to intimidate that he enjoys.

Chris Rock is one of the luckiest and most successful people on the planet. A good chunk of this film is Chris Rock complaining about being black. At the same time, he and the rest of the cast never stop hammering away at reminding the audience that they are black. We're black. We're different. We use the f word and the n word a lot. We speak Black English. We listen to hiphop. Taxis won't stop for us. Okay, okay, okay, Chris, we get it. You are black. Can you get on with the movie now? Like, can there be a plot?

The movie tosses a bunch of aborted plot points into a blender and presses "mash." You get alcoholism, reality TV, men obsessed with fat women, cheating, and hidden identities. None of these plot points goes anywhere. The movie always comes back to women getting naked for money, obscenities, and the n word.

There is a particularly nasty, ugly scene evoking the anal violation of a white man. The film's one white male character is a duplicitous homosexual. He is made to kneel naked on a bed while another character forces hot sauce into him. He writhes helplessly, begging for the hot sauce to be removed. This is a hateful scene.

As for the putative romance. Chris Rock is not sexy. He's skinny, googly-eyed, and his voice is unmodulated, loud and grating. Romances have been built around men who aren't conventionally attractive. See Woody Allen. But Rock can't carry it off. He's paired with a very desirable woman, Rosario Dawson. The movie seems to want to make her unattractive. She's given a butch, Cuban-political-prisoner hair-cut, with half of her head shaved, no makeup, and she wears the same dress through most of the film. Even so, she is out of Rock's league. The script does very little with their pairing.

And … comedy? I did not laugh once, and neither did anyone else in the theater. I guess if you find African Americans wanting to steal hangers from a hotel thigh-slappingly funny, this movie is for you. You might also enjoy Amos and Andy.


  1. Where is Spike Lee to protest Chris Rock's excessive use of the "n" word????

    The blogger's review is in a nutshell. It is exhausting that some Black people think it is okay to use the "n" word in the face of other Black people. I am not an "n" word, regardless of how you pronounce it, spell it, or attempt to justify it.

    Excessive and unnecessary usage of the "n" word within the first 5 minutes of this movie is a big distraction in trying to follow the plot. The redundant "I'm Black, pity me" overtones are ineffective, unfunny and tiresome.

    My companions and I set out to support a Black film on this evening and this is what we got in return. Thankfully, we were fully refunded by the movie theater.

    We were very surprised that Chris Rock has not yet matured out of this kind of "I'm privileged to use the N-word and I'm going to show you by shoving it down your throat" ridiculousness. Saying it more isn't "reclaiming" it, or making it more palatable. If you love it, then use it in the confines of your personal life with your friends and family who accept being described as such.

    Unless there is relevant historical context, then a public forum is no place for use of the "n" word. It is highly offensive, unfunny, immature, tacky and distracting.

  2. Here's a discussion of the joke in Chris Rocks' "Top Five" that struck me as homophobic:

  3. Top 5 takes place all in one day, it feels more like a saga of the main character.