Decadent and wild tales of the rich and famous never go out of style as everyone can’t seem to get enough of them. They live a life that many regular people would only dream of living. But as it has been shown, it can sometimes be a shallow, empty lifestyle that doesn’t offer anything substantial in the end. Such is the case with Entourage, a wish fulfillment male fantasy that often skews away from reality, even when compared to the real life Hollywood. Created, directed, written and produced by Doug Ellin it has accumulated a dedicated fan base even as it waned in the later seasons. But being a longtime fan of the series, I was able to let such discrepancies fall by the wayside and just go along for the ride. It may be dumb, crude, offensive and unrealistic but I couldn’t help but fall for its goofy bro charm.
Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) is a box office superstar who was last seen getting a quick and sudden marriage, but got a divorce 9 days later. Now he is ready to tackle something bigger that would serve as his magnum opus. He relays to his near psychopathic and maniacal former agent turned studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) that he will only star in his next project, Hyde – an updated version of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, if he can direct, even though he has no experience in the field what so ever. Ari struggles to maintain the project as it becomes plagued with problems like going over budget and Vincent not being confident enough with his film to show to anybody.
This leaves Ari to travel to meet his financiers in Texas, Larsen (Billy Bob Thornton) and Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment) who put fourth millions into the picture and see no reason to put up more money without even seeing it first. Travis goes along with Ari to Hollywood to oversee the project for any problems. Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly) is pizza boy turned manager to Vincent and struggles to deal with the many women in his life including his now pregnant ex-girlfriend Sloan McQuewick (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon) is still trying to find his place as a struggling actor and get out of his little brothers massive shadow. Sal "Turtle" Assante (Jerry Ferrara) is still Vincent’s driver and is now living large from his buyout from his tequila company, Avión and hopes to reconnect with MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.
It’s not really a smart business plan for any movie, but it really helps if one has already seen the series that aired on HBO for 8 seasons and bowed out in 2011 before watching the movie. It’s not really for the everyday casual viewer and just jumping into the film without knowing anything about the characters or their past from nearly 100 episodes would seem rather wasteful. Fans become invested in the characters over the years and want to see where they go next. One may wonder why even make a movie that would only appeal to a certain sect of the viewing audience and turn off most. But with the ending of the series finale several years ago, it basically set itself up for a feature film.
Would it have been better off and smarter overall if it released 1 – 2 years after the show ended? And yes it would have as there is always a small window to release a movie in accordance with the shows finale. But a fellow HBO show and a female counterpart Sex And The City, premiered its own film 4 years after the series ended in 2004. The main difference there is that Sex And The City had bigger stars in the leads, it was far more popular overall and rather unfortunately quite influential. Entourage would always pale in comparison. It’s still utterly shocking that Sex And The City grossed $57 million its opening weekend on its way to $152 million domestic gross.
The last time we see Vince and the gang, Ari is offered the job to be studio head, Vince is getting married, Turtle is in the midst of his Tequila venture, Drama is on a new hit project and E is back with Sloan. The problem with the finale is that it was way too complacent and safe where everyone gets a super, mega, ultra-happy ending. It bothered me that Vince married a girl he hardly knew after a lifetime of sleeping with models, actresses and miscellaneous fans and E got back together with Sloan after outright lying about sleeping with her stepmother. Turtle and Drama even covered for him, lying to Sloan. The actions by both of them were just way too douchey even by Hollywood standards and left the series on a passionless note where it hardly left anything for one to grab a hold onto.
So when the news of a film came about I was reluctant to get on board since there is only so much one can go when one is a superstar with the best luck in the world. Thankfully the marriage is dropped and added to the list of many short Hollywood marriages and E is not together with Sloan for the 12 time. But if you can’t tell that they get back together in the end, you may be the dumbest person alive. Seeing if E and Sloan will get back together really didn’t make for an interesting story but not that surprising given the amount of plot one has to work with. Turtle had less to do and work with as he is now on the top of the mountain and in charge of himself. He doesn’t have to rely on Vince for everything and has enough money to buy a massive mansion and refuses to reveal how much money he has, but it’s safe to say that he has tens of millions.
But with everything that’s going on that may destroy Vince’s career as well as E’s, Drama’s and Ari’s, Turtle is already in the clear as he doesn’t have anything at risk at all because of Vince’s film failing and got by all by himself. He’s left in attempting to woo Ronda Rousey which is a great consolation prize but has no bearing on anything else in the movie. If he gets rejected, he moves on with his life with all his money, friends, stature, house, cars and the many women that endlessly surround the gang. He was once the biggest hanger on, but he has grown to be completely self-sustaining that doesn’t rely on Vince. Which is refreshing somewhat, but doesn’t leave much for drama since he’ll be ok no matter what happens with Vince.
Speaking of Vince, his arc is basically unrealistic since it shows a movie star taking a huge gamble on a movie that he is not only starring but directing in his debut no less. It’s definitely not unheard of in Hollywood, but in the fictional playground, it’s a little hard to believe. When compared to other actor/directors, Vince falls very short of basically everyone. There’s nothing about him that screams auteur or that he could be an Oscar winning director/actor. It just looks like a dude just going through the motions who just decides hey I'm an actor now I’m going to be a director, how hard can it be? But we don’t see how easy or hard it was, it just happens and we were given no investment on the creative process or the hubris of a man starring and directing in his first film. But going that way would have likely taken up a whole season instead of one hour and 45 minutes.
The brief amount of time that we do get to see of Hyde was basically a preview. And none of it looked like it would be taken seriously as a box office smash, let alone a serious Oscar contender. It looked pretty stupid that was way too stylish with an overabundance of slow motion and Calvin Harris. A movie about a renegade DJ battling cops doesn’t look that appealing in any way, shape or form. Much like the show, the most interesting parts of the movie are Drama and Ari. Drama’s up and down success story is the most appealing in that it makes it easy for you to root for him. His failures make for great viewing and his character is one of the more honest portrayals in the entire film. Too many actors to count struggle to make it big in Hollywood and seeing Drama try to get over the hill while starring in Vince’s movie gives the movie its much needed heart. Ari was on fire like he always is and I never tired of seeing his volcanic and psychopathic rage take over the screen. Without him taking charge and kicking ass, it would be a far less funny movie. A huge asshole to anyone and everyone not named Vince or in his crew and his family, he takes no prisoners while spewing homophobic, racist and misogynistic vitriol like a bodily function.
It’s almost depressing to see him in anger therapy and control his rage since it’s such a big part of his character and the show. It’s great to see him try to reign in the chaos that surrounds him on a daily basis in such a crude and vulgar manner. Although Tom Cruise’s Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder did it better. The story was almost a backdrop to the litany of random celebrity cameos throughout the whole film that pop out at the most random of moments. Bob Saget, Gary Busey and Andrew Dice Clay had some of the better cameos just like they did in the show while Rob Gronkowski being Gronk was hilarious. Billy Bob didn’t have much to do here which is a shame since he can be hilarious and imposing when given the right material. Haley was pretty funny as a rich schlubby son to a billionaire who gets caught up in the Hollywood life.
You see as many celebrity cameos as you do topless women and asses in bikinis. It got to be a tad superfluous after a while but since it’s a movie and not a half hour show, there was bound to be much more T & A throughout the film. As a satire of Hollywood life, this should fall at the bottom of the barrel. It doesn’t really say much other than that Vince is really successful and thigns have come pretty easy for him. Not that theres anything wrong with that. It’s a fluff movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously but anyone looking for sharp obervations and a witty screenplay should look otherwise.
The takedown of Hollywood has been done many times before with far greater success. The 90s alone had several great films about the utter banality of Hollywood that still holds much resonance even today. Swimming With Sharks was a brutal vivisection of a ruthless movie executive and an assistant who gets put through the ringer under his dictator like reign. The Player was about another movie executive who murders a writer he believed to be sending him death threats. And Bowfinger centers on a low rent producer who tricks his cast and team that they are filming a movie with the biggest star in the world. They all have something substantial and important to say about the industry, whether it is hypocrisy, race, gender, politics and so forth. They are also funnier where it leaves you to think about the movies that you watch every day.
One scene in The Player has a movie executive explain the uselessness of writers and shows that you can find a story everywhere. He reads a newspaper and picks any story to possibly be a big budget movie. Bowfinger loosely spoofs on what many people believe to be Scientology, but here it’s called Mindhead and celebrities rely on it to govern their lives and openly pay with a huge price tag. One scene shows box office superstar Kit Ramsey as played by Eddie Murphy, explaining to his agent that the only way to get an Oscar is to be mentally challenged if you’re white and be a slave if you’re black. This would be remarked later on in Tropic Thunder with the now classic line of never going full retard. With Entourage, it’s all air with not much substance but while it’s there its fun even if it’s not saying anything inherently intelligent. The times it does say something somewhat smart, it gets lost within the clutter and glitz where it doesn’t really go beyond that. Travis questions the gang’s loyalty to Vince in relation to his movie and says that their friendship clouds their judgement on viewing his movie with no hang-ups. Even though he is viewed as an antagonist, what he said does hold some truth as many hanger-ons in Hollywood just tell their movie star friend just what they want to hear so to not rock the boat even when the project may suck.
Another scene showed Ari embarrassing Travis in front of everyone including his father which led Larsen to say that he didn’t deserve it even if he is a massive jerk. This was true since Ari had nothing to gain by embarrassing him in front of a boardroom of people and didn’t instead do it face to face. And that his method of approaching his enemies with venom isn’t always the smartest choice to play. Doug Ellin doesn’t seem to find anytime to say anything important amid all the topless girls and crude jokes, but then again it wouldn’t be Entourage if it were. The writing isn’t that special or meaningful and doesn’t extend beyond what we already know from these characters. The guys are just as crude, sophomoric and dopey as before and one should expect as much if anyone has spent any amount of time watching the series.
It remains a stagnant pace throughout where there aren’t very many lows but a large surplus of highs. It often felt like an extended episode of the TV series where there wasn’t much separating the two. In most cases, it wouldn’t work when transporting a TV show to the big screen but here it just worked to plant it from the small screen to the silver screen. It’s just as breezy and quick as the show and putting the gang front and center. I found myself laughing here and there but not as much as other comedies within the last year like 22 Jump Street, Neighbors or Top Five. There are simply far better comedies out there but the laughs here should be more than enough for long time fans of the series.
I know it seems that admitting one is a fan and enjoys watching Entourage is a faux pau, but there something in its simplistic storytelling and brutish characters that just appeals to me. It’s like garbage food; it tastes good even if it’s not of the best quality. But as long as it’s counteracted by brilliant programming like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, the brain should be perfectly fine. Subtlety is not one of Entourage’s strongest suits as you can basically tell what’s going to happen by the end of the movie. But just joining in on the fun with a bunch of crazy dudes makes for breezy fun. Once it starts going with Ari going ballistic in every which way and Vincent, E, Drama and Turtle are all throwing humorous barbs at each other, you can’t help but feel like reacquainting with an old friend. The movie about Hollywood has been done before and much better with greater results, but Entourage just goes its own way confident enough that its fans will enjoy another chapter of a group of bros gallivanting in Hollywood. Three sexy parties on a massive yacht off the coast of Spain with hot topless women in bikinis out of five.