Entourage: The Movie arrives in theaters offering too little, way too late, for anyone but the die-hard fans to enjoy it.
Entourage the movie picks up a few beats after the series finale of the HBO TV series, and finds Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) waking up to married life with his beautiful journalist wife, only to discover that (D’Oh!) he’d rather go back to being good ol’ free-lovin’ bachelor, Vinny Chase. In the blink of an eye, Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) have all given up their respective responsibilities, and are back into the entourage lifestyle of Vince’s lavish stardom.
However, things take a turn when Vince and the boys use Ari’s new position as head of Warner Bros. to greenlight a sci-fi movie called “Hyde”, a film that stars Vince and is directed by… Vince. Soon the budget is ballooning, putting Ari and the boys’ careers on the line. And when the financier’s bratty son (Haley Joel Osment) gets caught up in the LA life, business turns all too personal, leaving “Hyde” (and the guys) teetering on the brink of ruin.
Truth be told, Entourage: The Movie arrives in theaters offering too little, way too late, for anyone but the die-hard fans to enjoy it. This extra-large episode of the series is for the fans and only them, offering a lot of pleasant familiarity but very little new intrigue about the characters, the industry, or the franchise itself.
Series creator (and movie writer/director) Doug Ellin (along with series co-writer Rob Weiss) decides to place the Entourage film in an anachronistic bubble, wherein mere months have passed for the characters, but all of the obvious advancements in technology, fashion, and the film industry still show up onscreen. Even the premise seems pretty outdated (Ari funding a $100 million+ original sci-fi film property for Vince) given that we’re living in an era where shared universe franchises pretty much run the game.
In short: Entourage wants to dress itself up in today’s finery, while still playing a game that has drastically changed in the four years the show has been off the air. While it works moment-to-moment, any larger examination of the movie quickly exposes the hollowness at the core of this big-screen adaptation.
Ellin’s creation was always male fantasy unleashed, but at least the TV series remained (until later seasons) somewhat grounded in a feeling of “real Hollywood exploits” that could’ve been lived by a famous star (i.e. Mark Wahlberg, who also cameos in the movie). Entourage: The Movie has more in line with Project X in its depiction of excess, sex, and hedonism – with ne’er a problem or consequence to consider along the way.
Instead of further developing the characters (if indeed there was ever anything left to plumb), it’s as if Ellin and Weiss have retreated away from the place of maturity the series left us off at, far back into even more juvenile fantasy, where every girl (even a superstar model and MMA champion) is a willing object vying to be in the guys’ respective laps, and even things like infidelity or birth feel somehow deprived of proper weight or importance. Who has time to worry though? It’s all just another bright, sunny, smiling day in the life of the Entourage guys – even when their reputations get forever ruined in raunchy Internet scandals.
All joking aside, the narrative (so to speak) is pretty much as meandering as described above. The biggest (read: only) conflict in the film is an angry Haley Joel Osment (that kid from A.I. and The Sixth Sense, all grown up now) and the movie foolishly tries to turn that “conflict” into a quasi-mystery that anyone will see coming a mile away. It’s as if wedged somewhere between bong hits, chasing ass, parties – and oh yeah, somewhere in there actually making a movie – someone remembered that this film needed a plot, and cobbled together some flimsy turn, using Osment’s character as the antagonist.
As such, the third act of Entourage deflates like a punctured tire when called on to pull the various loose threads into a fulfilling climax. However, instead of facing up to their narrative obligations, Ellin and Co. go into full denial mode by diving even deeper into the fantasy bubble, presenting an almost dreamlike ending where everything just works itself out, and everyone gets what they want (money! Fame! Love! New ass to chase (pun)!) and if there are any complications or problems, they occur safely offscreen. It’s one thing to fantasize about characters you love, living on happily after the story has ended; it’s another thing to put those fantasies up on a screen and try to call them a movie. Like an early version of The Matrix, the world of Entourage: The Movie feels too perfect and carefree to be real or obtainable – which is arguably the entire magic trick the TV show pulled off.
So does that mean the movie is a total failure? Absolutely not. If you were a fan of the show’s male fantasy concept (and never really got into the more dramatic parts) then this is the pure distilled Entourage fun experience. The guys are still the guys, and the camaraderie, chemistry and funny banter are still intact amongst the cast members. Jeremy Piven still steals the show as Ari, and time has largely not changed all that much (a few more crows feet on faces, a few jokes about Jerry Ferrara’s weight loss… that’s about it).
In terms of returning us to the world and characters of Entourage, the film almost does too good of a job; there’s a lot of solid story introduced for the respective characters, but it all gets cut short by the time limits of a feature film, and would’ve (ironically) been better served by a new season of the show (shortened or otherwise).
As it stands, Entourage the movie is like a long trailer for a season of the show we wish we could watch in full, but never will. Though the characters and cast are still on their game – and the celebrity cameos as abundant and funny as ever – the film inevitably feels like a ghost from a different era, the distant echo of a fantasy once heard loud and clear. Even though the guys seem to be standing still in time, the viewing audience and world of Hollyweird these characters inhabit have inevitably moved on, leaving them like Matthew McConaughey’s Dazed and Confused character, Dave Wooderson, marveling at how everything sweet remains wonderfully the same, while blissfully unaware of how awkward he’s starting to look, standing on that same corner still trying to play the cool guy.
Entourage is now playing in movie theaters everywhere. It is 104 minutes long and is Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use.