14 Best Chris Rock Movies Ranked

In addition to an enormously successful career as a stand-up comedian and a stint as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," Chris Rock has starred in several acclaimed feature films. While much of Rock's cinematic work revolves around the signature humor he's known for in his stand-up, he has branched out to different genres, including crime thrillers and horror. Immensely magnetic, Rock commands full attention whenever he's on screen, elevating the projects he appears in, even on the occasions when he takes a supporting role.

More than just an actor, Rock is a solid filmmaker in his own right, producing, writing, and directing several projects. With a big screen career that began in the '80s, Rock has dozens of movies under his belt and is among the more underrated actors in Hollywood, evidenced by the bold choices in his performances. Here are the 14 best Chris Rock movies, ranging from the raucous comedies he's well-known for to family-friendly animation work to occasional ventures into genres audiences might not expect him in.

14. Madagascar

Like "Ice Age," "Madagascar" is one of those animated film franchises with surprising longevity. Odd staying power aside, the original 2005 film brings together an all-star cast and eclectic ensemble of zoo animals, including Chris Rock as the boisterous zebra Marty. Led by Marty and a gang of penguins, a group of animals from the Central Park Zoo break out and decide to return to their natural habitat in Madagascar, only to learn it's not all that it seems.

With all due respect to the rest of the ensemble, the character from the crowded cast that stands heads and shoulders above the rest is Marty. While most of the film's humor plays to its intended younger audiences, "Madagascar" gives Rock the closest thing he's going to get to playing a Looney Tunes character. The first "Madagascar" movie is easily the weakest of the bunch, but there's still plenty to enjoy and much of that is the sheer madcap energy that Rock brings.

13. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

After previously working together on 1999's "Dogma," Chris Rock reunited with filmmaker Kevin Smith for the 2001 star-studded comedy movie "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." Rock plays Chaka Luther King, a director helming a big-budget superhero movie inspired by perpetual stoners Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), prompting the pair to disrupt the production. Taking no effort to conceal his disdain for the project, Chaka offers comedic commentary as the set descends into complete chaos around him.

Rock doesn't appear in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" beyond his extended scene, but he certainly makes an impression. Much more overtly humorous than he was in "Dogma," Rock brings a fiery comedic style as a character openly hostile towards all white people. Amidst a parade of cameos and brief supporting roles, Rock rises above the rest and injects a self-aware look at just how absurd the whole thing is in the short amount of time he's on screen.

12. The Longest Yard (2005)

As far as I know, nobody was clamoring for a remake of the 1974 sports dramedy "The Longest Yard," but we got one anyway — over 30 years later. If one can suspend their belief to accept Adam Sandler as a superstar NFL quarterback, the 2005 remake is a relatively solid flick, with the rougher edges of the original sanded down for a broader audience. Rock plays James "Caretaker" Farrell, the right-hand confidant of jailed athlete Paul Crewe (Sandler), who is instrumental in helping Crewe gain the trust of the Black inmates to join his makeshift football team.

"The Longest Yard" knows exactly how likable Caretaker is and how much natural chemistry Rock has with Sandler. I know the movie's aware of this because it kills off Caretaker right before the big game in a lame attempt to give Crewe more motivation and the audience more of a reason to hate the prison guards. The forced nature of Caretaker's abrupt and unceremonious exit aside, Rock makes the most of his "Longest Yard" role, giving the remake one of its few strengths over the original.

11. Osmosis Jones

The 2001 live-action/animated movie "Osmosis Jones" comes at the tail end of the wave of gross-out cartoon humor that dominated much of '90s Nickelodeon programming like "Rocko's Modern Life." Split between live-action sequences following unhealthy zookeeper Frank DeTorri (Bill Murray) and animated sequences in Frank's body, "Osmosis Jones" is a buddy-cop comedy leaning into sight gags and puns dealing with all manner of bodily functions. Chris Rock rises above the constant low-brow, scatological jokes, playing the eponymous white blood cell detective who's out to stop a deadly pathogen named Thrax (Laurence Fishburne) from killing Frank.

I hesitate to call "Osmosis Jones" a good movie so much as a fun product of its era. What other film can you think of that pairs Chris Rock with David Hyde Pierce as partners, set to the musical stylings of Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker? And for all the toilet humor, there is a madcap energy around "Osmosis Jones" that is undeniably infectious (Yes, that pun was intentional), buoyed by Rock's performance.

10. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

It's weird to make this comparison, but the difference between the first "Madagascar" and its 2008 sequel, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," is like that of the first two "Godfather" movies. Not only is the overall quality raised significantly, but it is also more ambitious with its narrative, going deeper with its main characters and their history. Longing to return to New York City, the animal ensemble leaves Madagascar but crash-lands in continental Africa, prompting them to examine how they compare to their wilder counterparts as they search for a way to continue their journey.

"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" gives Chris Rock the most substantial material to work with as Marty, who endures something of an existential crisis in the film. Confronted with other zebras in the wild, Marty quickly realizes he's not as unique as he believed himself to be. This leads to a thorough self-analysis. Compared to his more manic performance in the preceding film, Rock brings an enormous amount of depth and growth to Marty in his best performance as the character to date.

9. Spiral: From the Book of Saw

The popular "Saw" horror franchise was relatively dormant after 2017's "Jigsaw," but it was Chris Rock himself who breathed new life into it with the 2021 installment, "Spiral: From the Book of Saw." Reportedly approaching a studio head linked to the franchise at a mutual friend's wedding with a pitch for the series' revival, Rock deviates from his usual comedic fare with this successful horror flick. Rock plays Zeke Banks, a police detective investigating a copycat killer who mimics the elaborate murders concocted by the notorious Jigsaw, only to find himself and his family in the murderer's sights.

Rock's abrupt departure from comedy to unrelentingly grim horror might catch viewers off-guard, but it works here. Zeke's mounting dread and repulsion at what he's faced with is played masterfully by Rock, who was horrified by several elements in the movie's production. While "Spiral" may be a lesser "Saw" movie, Rock's casting against type gives it the unexpected edge it needs to elevate it above expectations.

8. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

2012's "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," the capper to the "Madagascar" trilogy (not counting the franchise's spinoffs), picks up where its predecessor leaves off. Stopping off in Monte Carlo, the fan-favorite characters cut a path of mayhem and chaos across Europe, pursued by the authorities. And with the freewheeling gang of beasts now being hunted, the stakes have never been higher for the rogue animals.

There is some sense of irony here in that while "Madagascar 3" is the best movie in the franchise, it also is the one that gives Chris Rock's Marty the least to do. Marty was the breakout character of the film series, taking the lead in a lot of the film's marketing, but in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," he's given a more reactive role. Still, "Madagascar 3" solidly sticks the landing as the best of the animated trilogy, with a globe-trotting energy much like "The Great Muppet Caper." 

7. Dogma

The first (and significantly better) collaboration between Chris Rock and Kevin Smith, "Dogma," has a much tighter narrative and an epic scope that doesn't sacrifice the star power of its ensemble cast. Fallen angels Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon) risk all of existence when they try to re-enter Heaven, and it's up to a motley crew of misfits to prevent the apocalypse. Among them is Rufus (Rock), the forgotten 13th Apostle, who is just as biting in his observations about the present day as he is about revealing fun facts from his time hanging out with Jesus Christ.

Rock and Smith work to each other's strengths, knowing exactly how often and in what capacity to have Rufus chime in on the proceedings. Though subtly tailored for Smith's divine comedy, Rufus is a strong supporting role that leans into the more effective parts of Rock's sense of humor. Rock gets considerably less to work with as "Dogma" progresses, yet he remains one of the most consistently funny elements in the first half of the movie.

6. New Jack City

One of Chris Rock's earliest film roles was in the 1991 crime drama "New Jack City." The movie revolves around the rise of Harlem drug lord Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes), who earns the ire of undercover cop Scotty Appleton (Ice-T). In a supporting role, Rock plays a local youth named Pookie, who becomes tragically caught in the middle of their feud after volunteering to become a police informant.

Rock isn't in "New Jack City" for long. Pookie is killed off about halfway through the movie, but he leaves a lasting mark. There is a wide-eyed earnestness and enthusiasm that the young Rock brings to the movie. He exhibits a charisma and fire that will grow with his career. Rock's character runs the gamut from falling into crime and addiction to desperately wanting to do the right thing before falling prey to his environment. It's a heartbreaking rollercoaster of an arc made all the more tragic by Pookie not having a happy ending. It's a grim reminder of the stakes to close out the movie's first act.

5. Good Hair

Chris Rock blends comedy, social commentary, and sharp facts about culture and public perception in the 2009 documentary "Good Hair," which he produced, stars in, co-wrote, and narrates. Specifically, Rock directly addresses the stigma and fascination surrounding Black hair and the billion-dollar industry that has risen around it. He visits everything from barbershops to laboratories specializing in chemical hair straighteners in between interviews with Maya Angelou, Ice-T, and many others. "Good Hair" leaves no stone unturned in the exploration of its subject matter.

"Good Hair" could've easily gone the "Super Size Me" route as a documentary more apt to entertain than inform, but it manages the tricky balance of pulling off both. Rock is an insightful interviewer and documentary host, as he asks why Black people embrace their natural beauty regarding seemingly everything but their own hair, injecting enough humor to keep the treatment of the topic from becoming heavy-handed. Though "Good Hair" faced a curious reevaluation after Rock used one of Hollywood's biggest stages to poke fun at Black hair at the 2021 Academy Awards, the film is a strong enough work to avoid being overshadowed by the incident.

4. 2 Days in New York

French actor and filmmaker Julie Delpy presents a frank examination of cross-cultural romance and the struggles of dating as a single mother in her 2012 movie, "2 Days in New York." The film follows New York couple Marion (Delpy) and Mingus (Chris Rock) after Marion relocates to the city to better raise her son from a previous relationship. Though Marion and Mingus' romance thrives, it's tested when Marion's family visits them. Mingus' family is also drawn into this extended gathering, leading to all sorts of microaggressions and misunderstandings.

For all the unintended racism and skewering observations, "2 Days in New York" is elevated by Delpy, both on-screen and off, with the story unfolding from her nervous and neurotic perspective. This is very much a modern screwball comedy that doesn't dwell too sharply on its commentary. Delpy and Rock maintain solid chemistry as the emotional heartbeats of the film. A bit more understated compared to many of Rock's other roles, "2 Days in New York" offers a look at how his comedic career could mature, though he hasn't revisited such serious material since.

3. Dolemite Is My Name

Chris Rock could make a career of brief but memorable supporting roles, appearing just long enough to light a fire under the proceedings. The best example of this is in the 2019 biopic "Dolemite Is My Name," which examines the life and times of actor and stand-up comedian Rudy Ray Moore. Rock plays the pivotal role of Bobby Vale, an Indiana DJ who agrees to screen and promote "Dolemite," a martial arts blaxploitation film starring Moore (Eddie Murphy), when he struggles to find a distributor.

The film is set in the '70s, and Rock is right at home in the period piece, playing up the disc jockey persona to the hilt. Encountering Moore at his most despondent, Vale offers renewed hope to the protagonist and completely reinvigorates the film. "Dolemite Is My Name" is unmistakably Eddie Murphy's movie, but Rock makes the most of his short screen time.

2. Nurse Betty

The darkest role Chris Rock has taken on while staying within the realm of comedy is 2000's "Nurse Betty." In the film, Rock and Morgan Freeman star as hitmen Wesley and Charlie. After Betty Sizemore (Renée Zellweger) witnesses her husband get murdered by the assassins, she enters a fugue state, believing she's a nurse from her favorite soap. Betty leaves to visit the soap opera's set in Los Angeles, with Charlie and Wesley pursuing her when they realize her car contains the illegal drug shipment they've been hunting for.

Rock's Wesley is the more violent of the two hitmen, ready to kill anyone standing in the way of his objective, while it's up to Charlie to rein him in. Rock and Freeman have a solid on-screen rapport, balancing the comedic and lethal elements of their performances well. It's a shame that the two don't work together more often. Vicious without being overly off-putting, Rock is uncharacteristically bloodthirsty, effectively presenting himself as a stone-cold killer who gives "Nurse Betty" its underlying sense of menace.

1. Top Five

The smartest, most personal work of Chris Rock's filmography to date is 2014's "Top Five," which Rock also directed and wrote. Rock stars as stand-up comedian Andre Allen, who gives a lengthy interview about his life and career to journalist Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) on a day together in New York City. Andre shares his low points, his struggles with addiction, and his efforts to break into serious acting work as he examines and reevaluates his life.

There is an enormous amount of vulnerability on display throughout "Top Five," with Andre pondering the failures of his love life and whether he can be funny without using drugs. As serious and self-revelatory as "Top Five" is, Rock still knows when to balance the drama with a well-timed punchline. The best example is an emotional, self-effacing conversation between Andre and DMX (playing himself), punctuated by the rapper singing the Charlie Chaplin song "Smile."

The culmination of Rock's career until that point, "Top Five" brings together many of his friends and close collaborators for an existential meditation. Rock leaves everything on the field, so to speak, knowing when to bring himself low and when to lean into his natural comedic strengths. A full-on triumph, "Top Five" is the perfect showcase for Rock's talent as a filmmaker and actor.