TOP FIVE (2014, Chris Rock)
Pretty funny in many places, and in many modes: first with energetic and juvenile gross-out humor (the Cedric flashback); then with rapid-fire verbal character comedy (hanging with Tracy Morgan and friends); and finally with pure stand-up (Rock at the Comedy Cellar). Unfortunately, the screenplay falls prey to some rom-com cliche trappings that I hoped Rock would figure out how to get around. The worst is the old standby where the two leads are in relationships with assholes so terrible that we must root for them to be with each other instead. For Rock’s character, there’s a textual reason he would be with Union (“she helped me get clean”), but without seeing it, we have to just take his word for it. But even with her contrived monologue attempting to justify her state of mind, Union’s character is one-dimensional and pointless. As for Dawson’s boyfriend, yikes. The most courteous description still arrives at homophobia. But even without that icky layer, it still doesn’t make sense either one of them would last past the third date with the other.
But man, that jail cell scene with DMX! And a chance to see Jerry Seinfeld making it rain in a strip club.