The biggest question with an Entourage movie is: why? Not just merely why does this film exist, because let's face it with a rabid fan base it definitely seems like there's a space for this film to exist, but perhaps why at all? After eight seasons there seemed to be closure for the key characters. Eric (Kevin Connolly) was finally working things out with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and preparing for the birth of their baby. Vince (Adrian Grenier) was about to be married; Drama (Kevin Dillon) was getting some regular acting gigs, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) was a co owner of a successful company and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), was retired but had an offer to run a huge studio attempting to lure him back into the business. There was room for the characters to grow, there's potential forthcoming conflict and the idea that there's more for the characters that we'll only be left to imagine. It begs the question, that in a world where reunion episodes, Christmas specials or miniseries are commonplace in the T.V landscape; if there's more that you want to address with the characters, why not give them the space to explore instead of imprisoning them with a short run time? In addition to the shackles of short form storytelling, Entourage is dreadfully un-cinematic. I believe Confucius once said: a change in aspect ratio does not a movie make.
Entourage has never felt more antiquated. Although the series was ultimately riffing upon the exploits of Mark Wahlberg and his eventual rise to superstardom, the creator Doug Ellin, updated the setting to present day Hollywood. Each season took us through the volatile and just plain gross political machinations associated with finding work as (and for) a Hollywood actor. Each season was able to take the necessary time to examine the often-treacherous waters of art and stardom. However, from the moment that E, Drama and Turtle are streaming towards a speed boat along the Ibiza coast towards a yacht filled with nameless, semi naked (or almost wholly naked) women it becomes your drunken and near senile grandfather calling people of Asian descent 'slopes'. Unlike The Wolf of Wall Street, which examines the orgiastic, coke fuelled, high octane womanising prevalent in the 80s with a judgmental wry head shake, or Spring Breakers, which uses the unhinged, drunken and nihilistic madness as a sign of an impending moral apocalypse; Entourage unabashedly flaunts. Remember how hilariously desperate Joe Lo Truglio was driving Jonah Hill and Michael Cera to a party in Superbad and asking "so are you guys on Myspace?" You can't help by register those pangs of empathy for how pathetic writer/director Doug Ellin and storywriter Rob Weiss must think fans of the show are. From that point, it's self-serving descent, after "how the hell can we get these people to a saccharine ending" descent.
Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold, much like the series, is the resounding highlight of the film. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, so despite therapy sessions to help with a calmer approach to life he's no less explosive in his new position as studio head. Billy Bob Thornton plays the Texas Oil millionaire (or something to that effect) Larsen McCredle; who begins to flinch at the personal investment that he's making in Vince's project. To restore confidence in his investment, he sends his son Travis, played excellently by Haley Joel Osment, to L.A to see the fruits of his money's labour. Gold's struggle to get the over budget film (within the film) to its release battling the inter-Hollywood frustrations and the agonising ass-kissing required with fickle third party investors is actually what makes any part of viewing Entourage worthwhile.
Another disappointment is that this time around Vince (Grenier) decides that he wants to shake up his life by directing a film, and Ari Gold's (Piven) uses the new powers allow him to do it. By all accounts, seen in fleeting snippets, it's a powerful, artistic. You're being teased with a vastly more superior and exciting film in the midst of watching an agonising one. If any of you had the pleasure of watching Grenier's excellent Teenage Paparazzo documentary, you would have seen that he's more than just a photogenic face.
Entourage most definitely pulls out all stops to have the most stacked series of cameos and walk-ons possible. I must say that they even wasted the beautiful and powerful Ronda Rousey, playing herself, she's courted and slighted by Turtle (Ferrara) and he begs to wins her back by taking her on in an MMA sparring session. You've perhaps seen the trailer, which details the stakes; if he lasts thirty-seconds he wins a date, if he lasts a minute, he gets to take her to bed. Any one who knows Ronda Rousey, knows he didn't last and he earned a broken arm for his tenacity. Finally, the best cameo of the film was Armie Hammer, who wanders into a cafe threatening Vince with violence because he's been seen with his former squeeze Emily Ratajkowski. Even though it's a relatively short sequence, there's an intense dislike and venom behind Hammer's lines that makes the scene pop.
Entourage, much like those two cameos, leaves you with wanting to enact physical violence on the boys or at least watch them being threatened with it.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Doug Ellin Written by: Doug Ellin (screenplay/story) & Rob Weiss (story) Starring: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Perrey Reeves, Rex Lee, Debi Mazar, Rhys Coiro, Constance Zimmer, Haley Joel Osment, Ronda Rousey, Scott Mescudi, Alan Dale, Emily Ratajkowski, Billy Bob Thornton