Film Review – Entourage
Well, I’ll say this much: those who pay to see Entourage (2015) will most likely be established fans of the television show. Those who weren’t won’t be seeing it anyway, and those who never watched the show will find very little to be interested in to begin with.
The appeal of the HBO series (at least in its early seasons) was seeing a bunch of regular Joes enter the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood movie machine. Actor Vince (Adrian Grenier), his manager E (Kevin Connolly), older brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) and driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) were set up to be everyday guys caught up in the bizarre world of celebrity. Initially the premise worked, but somewhere along the way the characters transformed into the very people the show lampooned: rich, privileged, chauvinistic, and emotionally hollow. By the end of the series they were no longer the underdogs, and thus lost the spark that made them easy to root for.
So now comes the movie nearly four years after the series ended. Show runner Doug Ellin writes and directs, setting up the film almost exactly like an episode. The tone and pacing makes no differentiation from the series, this could be considered a ninth season condensed into two hours. In fact, Ellin maneuvers so closely to the same beats as the show that there isn’t much new or exciting going on here. New viewers may find it hard to keep up if they’re not familiar with the show. The plot picks up almost immediately after the end of the eighth season, resetting everyone’s happy ending back to the status quo. Vince – newly single – looks to get back into movie stardom. He turns to his ex-agent-now-studio-head Ari (Jeremy Piven) to help him out, but there’s a catch: Vince wants to star and direct his next vehicle, an updated version of the “Jekyll and Hyde” story.
We flash forward months later, with the film wrapping principle photography. However, Vince needs extra money to finish post-production. Ari – ever the determined businessman – tries to convince his Texas financier (Billy Bob Thornton) to fork over the dough. However, before that can happen, he has to bring the financier’s son (Haley Joel Osment) to Hollywood to see the film and give his seal of approval.
There have always been two factors that made me interested in Entourage. The first is seeing the wheeling and dealing of movie making. Show business is a cutthroat arena, and even though this world is an exaggerated version of that, it’s fun to see how things come together or fall apart. Jeremy Piven steps back into the role of Ari as though he never left, spinning around and running his mouth with reckless abandon.
The second piece is seeing the camaraderie of the four main characters. Say what you will, but the chemistry between them is strong. Vince, E, Drama, and Turtle all seem to really care about each other, and that loyalty transitions well into cinematic form.
The problem is: these are the same idiotic knuckleheads we remember them to be. They have not developed in any fashion, they may even have regressed. Their hedonistic lifestyle defines who they are. When not flashing their wealth, they brag about the gorgeous supermodel they screwed the night before. Their existence is all about getting laid and partying. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but there is nothing else to their personalities. They’re empty shells with nothing interesting to say. E’s story arc literally involves the trouble he gets into from banging too many women. Turtle spends the entire film trying to date Ronda Rousey, and Drama continues his endless quest to equal Vince’s fame even though he continually makes dumb decisions to sabotage himself. The women here – including Sloan (Emmanuelle Chrique), Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves), and Emily Ratajkowski (as herself) – are mere devices for the guys to either have sex with or ignore completely. They come in to serve their purpose and then disappear. It’s fantasy fulfillment from a rich white male perspective. These are no longer the guys from Queens, New York struggling to make it big. Heck, there’s even a point where Drama yells out “I don’t want to go back to Queens!”
Cameos, so many cameos. Nearly every scene has a cameo from a famous movie star or athlete. But unlike the series where the cameo served a purpose, the recognizable faces operate as simple namedrops by the filmmakers. There are moments were a famous person will walk by for no other reason than to just be there. And that’s really what Entourage is about. What was once a fun entertainment on the small screen has become a played out drag on the big screen. Despite a few laughs, a good performance by Piven, and strong chemistry between the leads, there’s no justification for this story to get a movie treatment. If they wanted to keep the ball rolling, why didn’t they just make a ninth season? It’s been a long time since the show debuted back in 2004. These characters have not done much growing up since then.