‘Entourage’ Review: Blasé for Hollywood
Entourage the movie is nothing less than a 90 minute episode of the Entourage TV series. The film doesn’t try to hide this. It embraces it by opening with a teaser scene followed by an extended version of the Entourage credit sequence.
Director Doug Ellin must be really proud of that, as his name pops up an inordinate amount of times during the opening credits. Clearly Ellin did a lot on this movie, but at what point does splashing your name on Hollywood landmarks become self-aggrandizing? Five times? Seven times?
When Entourage the TV series ended, Vince (Adrian Grenier) eloped with a girl that he barely knew, and superagent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) quit the business to save his marriage. But in the post-credits scene, Ari was offered the chance to be the head of his own movie studio.
Entourage the movie picks up just a few days later, as Vince’s marriage has already flamed out offscreen and Ari races back to America with a few new ground rules from his wife and kids. By the time that Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Eric (Kevin Connolly) catch up to Vince, he’s already cavorting with naked women and planning his directorial debut.
As was often the case in the TV series, Vince actually gets the least meaningful storyline even though it spreads throughout everyone else’s subplot. After eight months, Vince’s modern version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is over budget and threatening to end Ari’s studio reign prematurely. Only the Texas money men Larsen (Billy Bob Thornton) and Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment) can bail out the movie, but Travis takes an instant disliking to Vince and Drama.
Thornton is barely in this movie in more than a cameo role, leaving Osment’s Travis as the film’s antagonist. It’s not a great performance by Osment, but the script did him no favors by depicting Travis as such a cartoonish villain that he could have been a CGI creation.
Connolly got top billing in the TV show and in the movie, but Eric’s storyline was really unsatisfying. Between the end of the series and the movie, Eric and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) broke up for no other reason than to give them conflict as they await the birth of their child. It’s not like the show never put these two through an emotional roller coaster before, but the film has nothing to add to their relationship. There was no point to rehashing this other than to get Eric in bed with two different naked women.
There is a moment where Eric’s life seemed to be crushing him, but the film pulled back on that for the sake of a really bad joke at Eric’s expense. It’s something done by two women that only insane people would do in reality. Then again, Entourage rarely made female characters feel like real people.
Gender politics aside, weak characters tend to make for weak storylines. Sloan is a weak character. Mrs. Ari, aka Melissa Gold (Perrey Reeves), is also weakened from her time on the TV series. Melissa gets a few chances to reign in Ari’s anger, but she’s largely an observer to his story instead of a partner or a wife.
Do you know who the real female lead of the Entourage movie is? It’s Ronda Rousey, as herself, in a quasi-relationship with Turtle. And she’s only “okay” in the role. Although it’s slightly more believable that Turtle would be successful with women now that his character is a millionaire and because Ferrara is in much better shape than he used to be. Even so, Turtle’s courtship of Ronda rings false on every level.
And then there’s Drama. God damned Johnny Drama. Or Drama Queen would be a better name for him now. Once again, Drama self-destructs on an epic scale… and somehow he comes back from that?! It’s the biggest reminder that Entourage takes place in a strange parallel world where Piers Morgan is still relevant.
Thank god for Ari Gold. All of the best scenes in the movie revolve around him. He’s still a jerk, but Piven plays him to the hilt and he’s always funny. But unlike the rest of the characters, Ari gets to have real emotional connections to other people even if he’d rather deny his fatherly feelings towards Lloyd (Rex Lee) or allow his son and his wife to order him back into therapy when his anger comes out again. Ari is the most human character in this movie, and I would have loved an entire storyline about Ari as the studio head. But the script keeps Ari lazer focused on Vince’s movie and it feels like a lot of potential comedy was left on the table to service that.
I think that Ari must really love Vince on some level, because his loyalty to his favorite star can’t be explained in any other way. Ari is obsessive about maintaining Vince’s stature in Hollywood and he goes above and beyond by placing his own future in Vince’s hands. Ari may not be the best friend, but he is the best bro.
Will the Entourage movie satisfy fans of the TV series? Sure, why not? If you liked what the television show had to offer, then this is simply Entourage on a much bigger budget and on a larger screen.
But can Entourage appeal to people who haven’t seen the show? I don’t think it will. The movie relies too heavily on the viewer’s knowledge of the Entourage TV series. No one would care about these characters if this was their first appearance. The film uses the supposed familiarity with its cast as shorthand for anything resembling characterization. Only Ari manages to come off as a fully intact person, even if he’s usually a huge ass.
Frankly, Entourage the movie just isn’t funny enough to be a crossover hit. There were definitely jokes that I laughed at (mostly with Ari or at his expense), but it was pretty flat for long stretches and any real drama was largely non-existent. These characters lead consequence free lives. Even the one man who actually has a serious career failure in the movie bounces back improbably by the end of the film’s running time.
Ultimately, I should have waited to watch this on cable. Maybe you should too.