Entourage Review

(2.5 STARS)

There’s a moment deep into the Entourage movie when the guys are chastising their boy Vinny Chase (Adrian Grenier) for sleeping with Emily Ratajkowski (playing herself) moments after the financier of Vince’s directorial debut leaves her house. Vince begs his closest friends for some understanding, asking them to remember who they are. Yeah. They agree unanimously that they would have fucked her (their words), too.

In that moment, Entourage creator and this film’s writer and director Doug Ellin comes as close as he ever has and ever will to admitting these guys are unredeemable shitheads. After eight seasons of sometimes funny, sometimes grating, and sometimes unacceptable debauchery, Ellin mostly disposes of the heroic pretense that made the television series grow tiresome so quickly. It’s one thing to make a show about characters and write material based on what we know about them. It’s another thing to make those characters and the jokes about them reprehensible and then ask your audience to become emotionally invested in their ups and downs.

But right off the bat, the film gives a big fat middle finger to the show. Over the course of a maybe seven-minute-long pre-credits sequence, it more or less laughs off the idea of continuity. Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) marriage is off. So is Ari’s (Jeremy Piven) retirement. Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is still pregnant, but she and E (Kevin Connolly) are finished. There’s a boat party off the coast of Ibiza that resets the board and introduces us to the idea of Vince the Director. Begin opening titles.

The project in question is Hyde, a big-budget, futuristic retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and eight months after Vince makes Ari the proposition, the film is making everyone involved nervous. Vince is afraid to show his working cut to anyone but his three closest friends. He needs more money, but that means sending Ari to Texas to plead with billionaire Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), his studio’s bankroll. Larsen is starting to feel nervous about his investment and tells Ari he’s cut off until Travis (Haley Joel Osment), Larsen’s idiot son, can see the thing and report back to his dad.

It turns out the film is fantastic, but Travis doesn’t agree. He insists that Vince cuts out the four scenes featuring Johnny (Kevin Dillon), Vince’s brother, but they’re absolutely crucial to the film, and for once, Drama is actually great. A tug-of-war ensues that threatens the careers of everyone involved. All the while, E sleeps with some women while maybe trying to kind of reconcile with Sloan, and a rich and skinny Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) tries to woo MMA fighter Ronda Rousey (playing herself).

More than most other recent small-screen-to-big-screen adaptations—21 Jump Street, Get Smart, even Sex and the CityEntourage suffers from a lack of dramatic momentum. It’s like an entire season of television but without the peaks and valleys that would naturally occur when one episode ends and the next begins. Even the film’s climax is perilously muted. It’s a film that starts out with a lot of fun, crazy energy before flaming out because, I think, Ellin doesn’t know what to do with these people and worse, how he wants us to feel about these people. Ironically, it’s not unlike the show in that respect, despite how hard Ellin tries to blow that connection up early on.

And again like the show, the actors are simply terrible. Jeremy Piven, unsurprisingly, is the lone source of truly inspired and insane levity, whereas Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, and Jerry Ferrara sleepwalk their respective ways through the film. Kevin Dillon takes it on the chin as Johnny, but what else is new there. The only other noteworthy performers come in the form of dozens of cameos. Mark Wahlberg is great. Jessica Alba not so much. It’s as mixed a bag as you’d expect.

All that said, the film made me laugh more often than I will probably admit years from now. (Somebody bookmark this page and send it to me when I inevitably bash the Entourage movie around the time of its extra-crummy sequel.) Other than Ari’s usual antics, Haley Joel Osment’s Travis is probably the source of the strongest material. A grade-A punk with enough money to buy the backbone his father so wished God bestowed upon him, he throws Ari’s carefully constructed world into utter chaos over a woman, and Osment is so game that it’s hard not to appreciate it all despite it being both cliched and simplistic.

The same goes for Drama’s shenanigans and a whole host of throwaway lines and cameos. It’s what this film has to do to work—nee exist—and so you don’t want to reward it too much, but if you’re seeing the film, you want it to deliver on that level to a certain extent. And it does—to a certain extent. I wish Ellin went further. I wish some of Entourage surprised me. I wish some of it went back to the first and second seasons’ more satirical roots. But hey, this isn’t Scorsese—it’s not even Hyde. And in that respect, managed expectations ought to help foster satisfaction.

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