Film version of ‘Entourage’ goes bigger, but not necessarily better
Full disclosure: I’ve watched maybe 10 episodes of HBO’s popular “Entourage.”
I enjoyed the debauchery and chaos, all the pretty people doing pretty people things with an impressive amount of vulgar language and risky sexual adventures. The premise of the show, created and mostly written by Doug Ellin, centered around male friendship and the insanity that swirls around Hollywood. (The source material is loosely based on producer Mark Wahlberg’s experiences as an up-and-coming actor.) Spanning the course of eight seasons (a few too many, according to most critics), the TV show dealt with everything from rocky relationships to drug problems, all the while showcasing a dizzying array of cameos from celebrities of every stripe.
During the course of 100 minutes, the movie of the same name mostly sticks to that same script, from the relationships to the drugs to the sex to the numerous cameos, while trying to go bigger than ever before. You know what? I’m OK with that.
Now, that’s not to say “Entourage,” with brings back the principal cast and behind-the-scenes management, is going to be a lasting classic. It is to say, though, that if you enjoyed watching the TV show, you’ll find plenty to like here. The camaraderie, the antics, the unadulterated rage that is Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold: it’s all there for fans and newcomers alike. (Note: Nudity is shown pretty much throughout the film, for those who find that a bit too much to handle.)
For the uninitiated, the crew of “Entourage” basically amounts to the baggage that a popular movie star carries. Our celebrity, one Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier, who more or less called it in this time around), is woefully mourning the end of his marriage — after nine days. (The movie, by the way, takes places days after the end of the series.) Partying on a yacht in Ibiza with a shocking number of naked women dancing around, Vincent meets up with his oldest friends: best friend and manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), driver-turned-rich-entrepreneur Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and brother/failed actor Johnny (Kevin Dillon).
What follows after our gents get together is something only a Hollywood-type would think of: Vincent, at the prodding of his crew, contacts his former agent, Ari Gold (Piven) to find out about a film project he has going on. Now the head of a major movie studio, Ari wants Vincent to star in his oddly fascinating take on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Thing is, Vincent wants to direct, as well as star, which starts an ever-growing mountain of problems.
We’re talking going over budget to the tune of double-digit millions and being unfinished. Which, when Ari is forced to ask for more money to complete the project, brings the wrath of Texan oil tycoon Larsen McCredle (a silky Billy Bob Thornton). You see, he’s not releasing another dime of financing until his son, the sociopathic Travis (Haley Joel Osment, who clearly was having too much fun), OKs the editorial content of the film, despite whatever other, more knowledgeable parties may think.
The drama continues when Travis deems Johnny’s small yet crucial role in the film offensive by its very existence, which escalates into a power struggle between Gold and the his company’s higher-ups. The resulting scenes are gold (forgive the pun) for Piven, who simply gets to show just why he was nominated (and won) for awards year after year. (Note: It involves an outstanding amount of foul and abusive language while stepping over — or on — anyone who gets in his way.)
A few stories exist at a level just a bit deeper than surface: Eric is preparing to become a father and trying to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), all while having sex with other women; Turtle is trying to get cozy with martial artist Ronda Rousey; and Johnny is having somewhat of an emotional breakdown.
The sole purpose of the film, which we probably didn’t really need, is go even bigger than the show. More money, more women, more nudity, more Ari yelling and scheming., more Johnny being pathetic. Take that for what you will.
But if you’re watching this expecting some type of moralistic ending with everyone becoming a better person, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but “Entourage” doesn’t care about your morality. It’s about experiencing a visceral type of pleasure, of being surrounded by the beautiful and powerful and doing whatever it is you want to do. You’re not going to find any deeper story of social injustice (there’s talk of a $30 million buyout that isn’t taken) or a hard look at the dangers of show business.
In the end, “Entourage” is exactly what you’d expect: a bunch of guys living the good life and dealing with one-percenter problems. If you don’t mind this kind of debauchery, you’re in for a pleasurable hour and a half. If not, you’re not missing anything, even with all those cameos.
Two “is this a movie within a movie?” stars out of five.