THE ENTOURAGE BOYS ARE BACK
(FOR THE FANS)
A glance into the life of rising star in Hollywood and his close neighborhood friends (and brother), who are sharing his fame, glory, and pitfalls along the way. Add one hotheaded movie agent and guest starring cameos from celebrities and you’ll get HBO’s television series Entourage. Beginning back in 2004, this half-hour episodic show, which ran for eight seasons, follows the fictional character of Vinnie Chase and his rise to stardom with his friends (E and Turtle), his brother (Johnny), and his agent (Ari) by his side. With the final episode of the series concluded, the franchise was left open-ended with the possibility of continuing the story with a feature film. After several years of being delayed, Warner Bros. Studios and HBO are ready to premiere that continuance narrative with the film (ironically titled) Entourage. Is this star-studded movie worth a glance or has Vinnie Chase and his entourage group should stayed on their syndicated small screen television show?
Unable to be satisfied with a career as a leading Hollywood actor, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) sets his eyes upon starring and directing his first feature film. His former agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who has now become a movie studio executive, helps his ex-client by giving Vinnie his opportunity to direct the sci-fi thriller titled “Hyde”. As the production budget for Hyde balloons, Ari is faced with the studio’s financial backer, a Texas tycoon named Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thorton) and his dimwitted son, Travis, (Haley Joel Osment), who travels to L.A. to help fix the film’s problems. Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Vinnie Chase’s longtime manager and best friend, is having a difficult time with girlfriend prospects while also tending to the maternal needs of his former lover , Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who’s about to give birth to their first child. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is on the hunt, eager for a romance with MMA fighter Ronda Rousey (playing herself), but finds himself at odds with her, misconstruing his relationship intentions for alter motives. Lastly, Johnny “Drama” Chase” (Kevin Dillion), Vinnie Chase’s brother, struggles with his decline acting career, trying to support his big time star brother, but stuck without success after a long of time of smaller roles in television and film.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I actually enjoyed the HBO series Entourage, becoming a fan of the show after watching a couple of episodes from season 2. From then on, I was hooked. I watched every episode of the Entourage series, following the Hollywood misadventures of Vinnie, E, Johnny, Turtle and Ari until the somewhat inconclusive series finale. I then began to hear rumors that HBO was discussing the head with Doug Ellin (the creator of Entourage) about continuing the story of Entourage in a theatrical feature. Months pass and then years pass and still no word on the Entourage movie. After waiting four years, the Entourage movie has finally come out and the result is a movie that, while entertaining in reminiscing with the series favorite characters, feels like an extra long episode that’s overstuffed with shortchanged subplots and little intrigue in its premise.
Series creator Doug Ellin, who directed and help scripted the Entourage movie, returns to his creation after several years of being on hiatus. Ellin seems to rejoice in come back to his motley Hollywood crew and revisiting their personas and quirks, even bringing back and reimaging the show’s opening title sequence. The beginning catches up viewers of what has transpired in between the show and movie and, for the show’s uninitiated, reintroduces its primary characters with their past and current triumphs and woes. Like the series itself, Entourage is a male’s fantasy world of living a Hollywood movie star’s life with a plethora of alcohol usage, luxurious mansions, sleek cars, vulgar obscenities, industry cameos, and beautiful hot girls in binkies / skimpy outfits, who are much too eager to either have sex or removing their tops. It’s what made the show “it” and continues the formula in its movie-length adventure.
The big problem, however, is that Ellin doesn’t bring much refinement to his Entourage world. Sure, the movie carries the same bravado found in the TV series, but it doesn’t up the ante with a film that seems to running on autopilot. There’s really no heightened dramatics in the picture with characters meandering through the main plot and personal subplots (which are too many) on somewhat of a clockwork formula precision that, in the end, has a way of working itself out to resolves everything without theatrical poise. It also begs the opinion on why HBO decided to create an Entourage movie when the movie itself feels like a 90 minute episode from the series. Further examination also uncovers that the movie’s narrative seems very rushed and could‘ve possible been expanded for an entire season (if HBO deemed the show’s return) rather than a limited constraint as a feature film. Even the film’s conclusion has problems with a hurried ending that feels inconclusive with an opening for another possible installment and doesn’t give the payoffs its characters deserve (with the exception of one particular character). In short, nothing has changed in the jump from TV to movie as Entourage feels like it’s going through its own “TV series” motion on a less-than-dramatic big screen presentation.
While it’s Hollywood setting as always been in the backdrop, the movie, like the show, utilizes its main cast to punctuate the screen with its elements of storytelling and comical gags. In truth, the Entourage guys are still the guys from the show, keeping up the camaraderie and chemistry with each other as well as still retaining their character’s own genetic male eccentricity. Adrian Grenier’s Vinnie Chase is still the big-time movie star and who still the weakest link of the bunch (I’m not bashing Grenier’s performance, but more of his Entourage character). Kevin Connolly’s Eric (or E) is still playing manager to Vinnie and also dealing with chasing new girls as he continues his on again / off again relationship with Sloan. Jerry Ferrara’s Turtle (who lost a ton of weight) still as all the hookups and continues seeking new romantic companionship, while Kevin Dillion’s Johnny Drama is still the butt of every joke in this fictional Hollywood world (Dillion continue plays the character very well with a lot of comic relief, providing to be the funniest out of the foursome). Outside of them, Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold steals the show with his flashy hothead demeanor and offensive and crass laden remarks. Not much has been added to his character, but Piven’s Ari is a fan-favorite of the show and brings his crude “A” game comments to the movie’s presiding.
With the primary cast returning for the movie, the show’s secondary characters also return with their parts sprinkled here and there. This includes show alums Emmanuelle Chriqui as E’s former lover Sloan, Perrey Reeves as Ari’s wife, Constance Zimmer as Hollywood executive Dana Gordon, Alan Dale as the studio head John Ellis, Debi Mazar as the publicist Shauna, Rhys Coiro as director Billy Walsh, and fan favorite Rex Lee as Ari’s former assistant Lloyd. The movie adds newcomers to the picture with some that are playing fictional characters and others playing themselves. Haley Joel Osment plays Travis McCredle (who must have gained all the weight that Jerry Ferrara lost) with the right amount of southern dimwittedness and smarmy obnoxious antics. Billy Bob Thorton plays a smaller role in the movie as Travis’s father Larsen McCredle with dash of Texan vigor in his relatively minor role. Emily Ratajkowski plays herself in the movie, but doesn’t do much here than just being pretty and being the object of desire for two characters. Lastly, the female MMA fighter Rhonda Rousey does a pretty good job at playing at herself and her relationship with Turtle could’ve been expanded upon.
The show was famous for bring real life Hollywood actors and celebrities to cameo in episodes, solidifying the series authenticity of the industry’s atmosphere. Entourage continues that trend from the show, but in a very big way as dozens of celebrities casually walk in and out of scenes. This includes sport stars like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Russell Wilson, business moguls like Mark Cuban and Warren Buffet, music artists like Pharrell Williams and Calvin Harris, movie stars like Mark Wahlberg, Armie Hammer, Kelsey Grammer, Liam Neeson, and Jessica Alba, and former to lesser known movie stars like Andrew Dice Clay, Bob Saget, and George Takei.
Similar feature films that are continuing a television series narrative are usually made for the show’s fans and Doug Ellin’s Entourage movie is no different. Feeling like an elongated episode rather than full-length movie, the film catches up with the familiar primary faces of the show with a moderately satisfying tale with a bunch of celebrity cameos and a lot of laughs. There’s really no surprise here and the movie itself gets bogged down with too many underserved minor subplots and a hurried conclusion. To me, it was good to catch up with the guys, but their feature length adventure could’ve been a lot better. The likeability of Entourage will ultimately come down to whether or not you liked the show or even seeing it all. For diehard fans of the show (myself included), it’s definitely worth seeing. For everyone else, however, the appeal to see Entourage might vary with mixed opinions with a film that feels like a confusing series of events of Hollywood lifestyle antics and gratuitous cameos.