Entourage

Release: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

[Theater]

Written by: Doug Ellin

Directed by: Doug Ellin

There’s no denying how much the Entourage movie will fail to unite that which its namesake HBO series divided back in 2004. The cinematic revival will be regarded either as one of the more obvious examples of excessive fan service, or the heralding of a new era of one of modern television’s most meta entertainment vehicles.

There’s plenty of fuel for both arguments, though you won’t hear me complaining that there is now a two-hour long episode available in the big screen format.

In truth, the movie is likely to further polarize the two factions — those who have embraced the idea of tracing a young movie star’s personal and professional trajectory and those who haven’t — for Entourage is a properly conceived crowd-pleaser. If you’ve been along for the ride the return of Vincent Chase and his loudmouthed, fairly obnoxious New York brethren is a welcomed retreat back into the male fantasy of living dreams that once felt out of reach. Anyone approaching the material for the first time or with limited enthusiasm isn’t going to be moved to check out much beyond its pilot season. Perhaps not even beyond the pilot episode. The world surrounding Vincent Chase serves as its own self-sustaining economy; series creator Doug Ellin, even Mark Wahlberg, whose experience growing up in Hollywood is catalytic, and the fans thereof need not apologize or explain at length why the exclusivity works so beautifully.

Outside of meticulous, brilliant writing what granted the show its longevity was the camaraderie between four then-unknowns. That Entourage constantly brushed shoulders with much more recognizable names did nothing but confirm the show’s unique accessibility, a creation where movie stars are people and not just brand names. You could almost reach out and touch these individuals through the screen. If it’s not easy to identify with those who earn multi-million dollar paychecks (and it’s not), then the juxtaposition of ‘stars’ like the fictional Chase brothers alongside, say, Scarlett Johansson or in the case of the movie version, someone like Billy Bob Thornton makes for interesting career comparisons. That’s of course if you’re into that sort of thing.

Entourage may be four years “in the making,” though it feels as if no time has passed since we left Vince (Adrian Grenier), E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) to their own pervy devices. That’s primarily because the film manifests as merely an extension of the same narrative that saw Vince grow from a new kid on the Hollywood block into a true celebrity, maturing through all manners of drug-addled self-aggrandizement and sexual encounters designed to separate the movie star from the individual.

Why there is this indignation that this extended episode doesn’t offer more than . . . well, more of the same, is anyone’s guess. The day-in-the-life experience would never work as a production with a singular narrative focus. The slightest deviation from what has worked so well in the past wouldn’t feel natural. Characters of flesh and blood, despite their materialistic obsession and an apparent preference for misogynistic lifestyles, have endeared themselves to those who understand that Entourage represents and values loyalty, friendship and dedication more than the sheen of its surface suggests. Rather than exaggerating these people in a story more befitting of a feature film, Ellin knows that the only way forward is to continue exploring how these individuals interact with a fictionalized and dramatized Hollywood landscape.

In 2015 Vince and his bros are wealthier than ever. It’s also easier than ever to fail in identifying with the stress and tension shared amongst the crew, as they all have risen to such prominence on the scene. That won’t stop us from having a good time with them, though. Ari the super agent (a never better Jeremy Piven) is trying to reconcile his professional and family life the best way he knows how. He’s left the agenting racket behind and currently runs his own studio. His priority is enabling Vince to rise to the ‘next level.’ Presumably this means becoming even more famous than he currently is — some kind of awards recognition would be nice. Vince wants to update the Jekyl and Hyde fable by not only starring in the project but directing it as well. It’s a decision that concerns Ari as much as Vince’s best friend/manager.

Turtle and Drama are similarly surprised by the ambition, especially given the position it would put all of them in should the film fail critically or commercially. Of course, since Turtle sold his tequila company to Mark Cuban it’s really Drama who is most concerned about that whole living by the freeway situation. After all, he’s still the one trying to break through in the industry. Vince’s Hyde represents the first investment Ari would be making as studio head, so what’s at stake is painfully obvious. The stakes are no different than before, and not really much higher, despite insistence from both Entourage‘s writers and performers that they are. Thornton is in as Texan billionaire financier Larsen McCredle, and along with his entitled son Travis (Haley Joel Osment), he represents the big money; the underbelly of the business of entertainment. While the pair are a welcomed addition to the ever-expanding list of extended cameos, Thornton and Osment do little to escape the mold of Entourage‘s conflict creation and resolution.

Turtle finds a new potential love interest in MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, while Drama is once again humiliated thanks to a viral video he unwittingly creates with all of his pent-up anger and aggression. E finds himself in an uncharacteristically awkward position when his bedding of two different women in the space of 24 hours yields some rather unsavory consequences, while Vince carries on getting most of the attention from male and female fans alike.

Yes indeed, very little has changed. Yet at the same time Entourage represents another leap forward in the maturation process of each of its players. The pursuit of women, prestige and boatloads more money may not be the most profound representation of human nature but it is consistent. And it all still rings true to the lifestyle these people have embraced since leaving Queens. It’d be ridiculous to say the wait has been killing anyone since Entourage went off the air in 2011 (though I’m sure a few diehards are claiming this to be so), but it’s certainly fun having another opportunity to dive back into this outrageously excessive culture. I’m sorry that I’m not sorry about my fascination with it.

Recommendation: Entourage is unabashedly a continuation of the series that became one of HBO’s most popular, and as such fans have a lot to look forward to. The film’s greatest weakness, I suppose, is its inability to offer anything to those unfamiliar with it or who couldn’t quite get into even the most popular episodes. This is very much an exclusive film and I understand completely the antipathy that will rise in the wake of its release.

Rated: R

Running Time: 104 mins.

Quoted: “I’m telling you. Because it is your job, along with going over budget and being short, to tell him these things.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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16 thoughts on “Entourage

  1. Pingback: Love & Mercy | digitalshortbread

  2. I absolutely loved this show and had high hopes for the movie, so I’m pleased that you think it stands up to scrutiny mate. How’s the job going by the way?

    • Hey Mark, great to meet another fan of a solidly written HBO show. This is real good stuff for fans, it’s nothing more and nothing less. I have always bought into this world and lived seeing it play out in a longer format.

    • H ey there friend! Damn I was just thinking the other day how much my visits to your page have been recently. A new full-time job is getting in the way of a lot of my time here these days, so I’m going to have to try a bit harder to convince everyone I’m not ignoring them! Haha!

      As for Entourage, I would describe it as a make version of Sex and the City. Male gossip, ogling over women, and living the supposed “great life.” It’s pretty shallow but I have always been a fan of it because these relatively unknown actors have such wonderful chemistry together. It’s a film that really deserves some criticism but anyone who’s been a fan of the show should see it.

      • Please, I have been so absent I cannot believe you all even remember who I am!

        Hmmmmm, maybe I will look into it sometime!

        • Everyone needs a slow period in this biz haha. Blogging, as fun as it is, can get exhausting after some time. 😉

  3. Nice review mate, though…. I woulda gone to see this if it wasn’t more of the same like you said, and like I’ve read elsewhere. I never hated the show, but never watched it either… It just didn’t ‘click’ for me. The initial plot sounds interesting and worth a watch, but from what I’m reading they kinda veer away from that. Oh, and to under-use Billy Bob should be a criminal act! 😛

    Great write-up dude, one that actually has me interested in seeing it. It is one of the few movies actually playing at my local cinemas

    • I don’t know why people are expecting anything different from the format of the show. Entourage works the way it does, and me being such a fan of the series and character dynamics, there was really very little that they could do wrong in my eyes. Except, maybe go a different direction from how their original story played out. Idk, I think a lot of people are coming into this with wildly misplaced expectations

      • Yeah that makes sense, that seems to be the mindset of the negative reviews I have read. I have never actually seen the show, so I might go see as I’ll have no real expectations. Under-use of Billy Bob still should be a crime tho! 😛

        • I thought BBT was given a substantial role and did great in it. So did Haley Joel Osment. But I can see how some have thought they weren’t used as much as they could have been.

          Hmm, if you are going into the film without any experience with Entourage the review you post will be interesting for sure. I think this is one of those that downright requires some prior knowledge, but hey if u end up liking what the film presents on its own, that’d be great too! Personally for me, I loved it bc it literally was just an extension of the show I had grown so fond of over the years. All I wanted was more of that shit and I got it. 😀

          • Hmm I have literally never seen an episode of the show. I reckon I’ll go see it, why not eh? Tomorrow is cheap tickets day, ten bucks, can’t really lose eh? Plus I love watching BBT in anything, even in small roles! If I were to name a man-crush, it’d be his insanely awesome acting chops. It was the Fargo series that did it!

            • Oh for sure man, definitely do not let me influence your enjoyment or your cjoice of what to watch! Haha I guess I’m just so satisfied that there’s been more Entourage that I can only defend the film, I find myself unable to even criticize it. Haha! I think we all have movies like that.

              • Hehe totally man, we all have certain movies that we shall defend to our grave! Having not seen the show I’m kinda looking forward to seeing it no! I literally have no idea what it will be like

  4. Nice to read a positive review of this, as I’ve read a couple of negative ones in recent days. I was a big fan when Entourage started but got bored with the last couple of seasons, like a lot of people by the looks of things. I might give this a go on the small screen at some point in the future though. I understand your comments about it being obvious that it was always going to be ‘more of the same’, but I guess until I see it I’ll still harbour reservations as to whether that can stretch to 90 minutes. I liked the fact the TV show was bite-sized, 22 minutes and out.

    • I totally get where many miss the appeal of this show and/or the idea to take it to the big screen. As a big fan of the show I was looking forward to this and I got exactly what I expected. There probably aren’t going to be a lot of releases this summer where I’ll be able to so confidently say that. I was never expecting the Entourage movie to reach out beyond its fan base.

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