The bros are back, but do we really care? After eight seasons of must-see episodes on Sunday nights, HBO’s Entourage pretty much tied up all of its storylines in the show’s final episode. Vince got married to a woman he barely knew, E was back (again) with a pregnant Sloan, Turtle made a fortune thanks to Vince and Mark Cuban, and Drama finally had a career of his own that was separate from Vince’s. All was right with the guys from Queens and although the storylines wrapped up far too neatly, it was all fine in the end because fans needed these BFFs for life to ride happily off into the sunset in private planes or luxury automobiles, hot women on their arms.
Entourage ended its run on September 11, 2011 and almost immediately there was talk of a feature film. Series creator Doug Ellin kept the hope alive for a movie featuring Vince (Adrian Grenier), E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Drama (Kevin Dillon), and Ari (Jeremy Piven) even when things stalled for a while due to contract issues in 2013. Finally, Ellin’s desire for an Entourage movie came to fruition after everyone finally agreed to the contracts, and filming began in 2014 with Ellin not only scripting the movie but also directing.
Entourage the series was a bromance before bromance was even a thing. The show focused on the foursome’s unwavering loyalty, throwing in cameos by assorted celebs to keep the whole “this is life in Hollywood” vibe going, and adding in various love interests over the course of eight seasons that were never really developed as characters but were basically just used as eye candy for the male audience. The feature film includes everything that made HBO’s Entourage so fun to check out every week for eight years. But, unfortunately, the leap to the big screen winds up feeling not only unnecessary but stale. We’ve seen it all before and what was forgiven on the small screen is glaringly apparent and impossible to overlook in the film. There’s simply nothing to these characters other than what you see on the surface. There’s also nothing special about the way the actors handle the roles, bringing nothing new to their parts and relying solely on the limited emotions they had to play over the course of the series’ eight seasons.
Entourage’s Vince, E, Drama, and Turtle are like Snow White’s seven dwarves, easily defined by and almost exclusively limited to one characteristic or emotion. Meet Charming, Anxious, Whiney, and Easygoing – the four Entourage fellows who will by the end of the movie pretty much be back in the same circumstances we left them in at the end of season eight’s finale. What’s the point of a movie version if it’s only going to retread familiar ground and wind up back where the series left off?
Ellin had quite a while to fine-tune the script, but the story he settled on is so basic (and ridiculous) the film feels like nothing more than a few 30 minute episodes slapped together. Studio head Ari gives in to Vince’s outrageous demand to direct a $100 million tentpole movie after Vince gives him an ultimatum: either he directs or he won’t star in the film. Why would Ari ever say yes? He doesn’t even make him hug it out! In the real world it wouldn’t happen, but Ari’s got a soft spot for the Mentos commercial actor he discovered and turned into a star so he agrees. And of course the movie goes over budget. And, of course, Ari’s forced to beg for more money (in this case from the studio’s investors in Texas). There was never any indication in the series that Vince was able to direct his way out of a paper bag, but we’re all supposed to just play along that this ludicrous setup for the film fits in in the world of Entourage. It doesn’t.
So Vince directs himself as a Jekyll and Hyde type character who is, I guess, a DJ in this big budget effects-laded film called Hyde. He also has control over the final edit and the power to say no to studio head Ari who needs to see it in order to convince the Texas father and son team (played by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment) that it’s worth signing away even more money to finish. The story takes a turn into bizzaro land when Osment’s character Travis has the hots for Emily Ratajkowski (playing herself) but she’s only interested in connecting with Vince. And let’s just make sure this is crystal clear… In the film Emily is never seen as an independent woman who can make her own choices and who doesn’t need to hook up with anyone to feel good about herself. No, the film just leaves it hanging out there that Emily is going to have to choose between the creepy Travis or the lovable and easy-on-the-eyes Vince. Not choosing either isn’t an option. And because she chooses Vince, Travis throws a hissy fit, denies all requests for more money, and even locks Vince and Ari out of the editing suite and takes over cutting the film. I kid you not…this actually happens in the movie.
So, forget about seeing Entourage the movie for the plot. Forget about seeing it for any strong female characters other than Ronda Rousey who’s a beast in the ring but is definitely not an actress. Up next for consideration is should you see it just for one more chance to watch the guys hang out with famous people, be entertained by scantily clad women, and see Ari on the verge of another nervous breakdown? The answer is no. Entourage is basically a shortened season nine or, as network’s have taken to calling what used to be referred to as miniseries, an “event series.” Entourage the film should have aired cut up into three or four ‘special’ episodes as there’s not enough meat to the story or personalities to the characters (other than Jeremy Piven’s Ari) to justify a feature film follow-up to the show. There are a few fun cameos, with Liam Neeson, Kelsey Grammer, and Russell Wilson in particular adding a spark to the film during their brief appearances on the screen. Mark Wahlberg also shows up to liven up the movie that’s based on the series he executive produced which was loosely based on his life. But overall the fun spirit of the series is missing, and Ellin never finds a way to make these characters worthy of their own film.
Entourage should have been left strictly as a TV production that we can binge-watch whenever the urge strikes. To resurrect it in 2015 without a compelling reason – and without a plot worthy of a feature film – is a sad send-off to a show that already effectively said goodbye in a much more entertaining fashion.
MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use
Running time: 104 minutes
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