Chris Rock is one of the funniest entertainers of the last few decades. From his early years in comedy, working for laughs alongside big names like Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and David Spade during Saturday Night Live’s run during the 1990s, Rock has climbed all the way through stand-up, music, and TV sitcoms to becoming one of Hollywood’s most popular figures. And while his roots are successfully embedded in stand-up comedy, he has a number of successful movies on his resume to enjoy.
Here is a list of 10 of those such films, in no particular order.
New Jack City
In this 1991 urban crime drama, Rock gives one of his more notable performances during the early stages of his film career as a drug addict-turned-police informant named Pookie. Once you get past Rock looking probably the worst he’s ever looked in a movie, you should be able to appreciate the serious work he put into a character that you don’t even see for half of the film. His role in New Jack City is arguably just as memorable as Wesley Snipes’ and Ice-T’s roles which featured much more screen time.
Not to get too chronological while going through Rock’s resume, this next movie was made a couple of years after his appearance in New Jack City. However, this parody of ‘90s gangsta rap was definitely more suited for Rock, especially since he co-wrote and produced CB4. Rock stars as one-third of a rap trio that satirically plays up the persona of gang members before they quickly realize how difficult life can be if you’re not really from the streets. To make it a little more “realistic”, legendary names in real Hip Hop like Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, Eazy-E, and even Ice-T, as themselves make cameo appearances.
In this 1999 Kevin Smith classic, Rock puts in one of his most memorable performances, or at least his most spiritual as Rufus, the “13th Apostle.” He and a cast of heaven’s outcasts band together and go on a journey to save humanity from the depths of hell all while navigating through religious concepts and raunchy humor. And when Jay and Silent Bob are also in on the adventure, you know it’s got to be a great time.
Osmosis Jones is a movie that mixes animation and live-action from 2001 wasn’t the first time he would lend his voice acting talents to a big project and it sure wouldn’t be the last. Even though 1998’s Dr. Doolittle and his role as Marty in the Madagascar movies might be considered more popular in the mainstream, it’s this movie that somehow seems to have a considerable cult following that’s endured over 20 years of its own popularity.
Head of State
Next on this list is a 2003 fictional political comedy that many feel doesn’t get its due credit despite Rock himself starring, writing, producing, and directing Head of State. Sure, there are some humorous scenes that appear to be a little too forced or campy but the satire from start to finish in this movie is quite clever. Rock stars as Mays Gilliam, a Washington D.C. alderman who is surprisingly placed in the spotlight as he runs an impossible campaign for the US Presidency. Joined by a hilarious supporting performance by the late, great comedy legend Bernie Mac, this movie rightly deserves to be on a list of Rock’s best.
I Think I Love My Wife
I Think I Love my Wife yet is another project that Rock was heavily involved with both in front and behind the camera. He starred as a successful businessman who seemed to lose the intimate spark in his otherwise happy marriage. With that said he flirts with the possibility of a third party to scratch an itch that his wife can’t seem to take care of. It’s another funny movie that easily brings about genuine laughs but still somehow doesn’t get as much credit as it otherwise should.
A documentary about African-American women and the perception of their hairstyles should always be worth a genuine watch. Especially if Chris Rock is featured in it as an on-screen talent and narrator. Good Hair attempts to show the correlation between popular contemporary black hairstyles and the history of black culture. Despite slight controversy after the film’s release, it did earn the filmmakers the Special Jury Prize for a Documentary at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Top Five is easily one of Rock’s best movies, especially out of the collection of projects that he helped put together from start to finish. He not only had the lead role but also was the sole writer and director of this clever satire of Hollywood life. Rock’s portrayal of an A-list comedy actor who’s trying to stay relevant in a world of fame that might not be his style, brings about an enticing plot filled with jokes and cameos from some of comedy’s best for a totally underrated hit.
The Madagascar Animated Films
Rock is credited with three feature-length movies and a short film in the universe of the wildly entertaining exotic zoo animals that a whole generation of kids grew up with ever since 2005. Rock voiced the lovable zebra Marty in each fun-filled entry in the animated Madagascar series. Some argue that if not for his performance in Osmosis Jones, Rock might not have been given the opportunity to let his voice talents shine a few years later in the first Madagascar movie.
Down To Earth
This 2001 comedy that Rock starred in and co-wrote was actually the third motion picture to take from the plot of a popular stage-play called Heaven Can Wait. Both previous versions were great movies in their time and this one was no different when it was released. Rock starred in Down to Earth as a struggling comedian who after unexpectedly dying gets another chance to fulfill his time on Earth – in the body of a rich white man. This movie’s full of Rock’s style of comedy, along with a healthy dose of hilarious culture shocks that makes this one an easy pick for this list.