‘Entourage’ Graduates From TV Purgatory to Cinematic Hell

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As a series on HBO, Entourage ran for 8 seasons, taking home a few Emmys and Golden Globes along the way. Despite its long run and acclaim, the show morphed into easy fodder for detractors. After all, the show was nothing more than lifestyle porn, as a group of privileged white men live out a consequence free life – hey, it’ll all work out in the end. In many ways, Entourage was able to dodge a lot of its harshest criticisms about class and sexism by virtue of dubbing itself a comedy, a deflection that could work either way for the creators of the show depending on the criticism. Being honest, I wasn’t immune to the lifestyle porn tied to the world of movies. I watched the show through its first 7 seasons. A shameful confession, I know, but even I was forced to abandon the show following Vincent Chase’s decent in addiction and off camera rehabilitation. Even though I didn’t watch the finale it didn’t quell interest in an Entourage movie. Now the boys of Entourage are back in their own big screen movie, a tedious, dire affair of monotonous cameos and listless writing.

The events of the movie take place almost immediately after the series finale. In the finale, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) ran off and got married, while Eric (Kevin Connolly), aka E, Vince’s best friend and manager, reunited with his pregnant girlfriend Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Also in the finale, superstar agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) retired from his agency to spend more time with his family. Picking up just a week after the finale, Vincent’s marriage is annulled and Ari has taken a job as a studio head. Within moments, Vince drops a bombshell on the newly appointed studio head – whatever he stars in, he also wants to direct. Cut to months later: Vincent Chase is currently in production on Hyde, the star’s big-budget directorial debut. But the veteran movie star and rookie director has gone over budget and needs money to finish his film. In order secure funds to finish the film Ari must visit one of the studio’s co-financiers, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton). A Texan billionaire, Larsen won’t authorize further funds for the movie until his son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) sees the movie and approves. Meanwhile, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is now a multi-millionaire after teaming with Marc Cuban on a tequila company, and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), Vince’s older brother, is the omnipresent comic relief. From there things get complicated, but, hey, it’ll all work out in the end.

In a half-hour show one could be easily be seduced by a high-paced show with cameos, exotic locations, comedic side plots, romantic entanglements with the rich and famous, and an inside baseball approach to Hollywood. But in a movie with a significantly longer running time, it’s up to the creative crew to up their game or understand the transition between mediums. However, creator, producer, co-writer, and director of the film Doug Ellin has just made the longest, and quite possibly worst, episode of Entourage ever. Where many blockbusters confuse CGI spectacle for narrative substance, Entourage does the same exact thing only with its endless barrage of cameos. There’s a lot going on in Entourage, not much of it has a point.

For the uninitiated in the Entourage world, the film sets the stage through a Piers Morgan profile on Vincent Chase and the members of extended family, his entourage. Not only does this sequence establish the setting for newcomers, but it also establishes that Entourage takes place in a dated fantasy land where Piers Morgan is still on television and asks hard-hitting questions. The backstory of each character is narrated by the former CNN host while poorly photoshopped images of the characters grace the screen. This is just the first in many clumsy moments throughout.

Among the subplots that would be charming in an episode is Turtle’s attempts to charm MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. In the context of the film, though, it serves absolutely no narrative purpose. But the entire film is practically an assemblage of subplots glued together by cameos, many of which could be completely excised and change nothing. One exceptionally repellent subplot had a girl E had sex call with a fake pregnancy scare only for it to be a façade for a confrontation with her former roommate; you see, they both had sex with him on the same day. In many films this could’ve been just an innocuous little farce. However, in Entourage it takes on a bizarrely sinister connotation as these scorned women feel the need to concoct elaborate stories about STDs and pregnancies to teach this guy a lesson. It’s like the cinematic manifestation of MRA paranoia.

For the detractors there’s plenty of fodder. As a matter of fact, there’s a shitload of fodder. Once an integral character to the show, Lloyd (Rex Lee), Ari’s former assistant turned agent, is getting married and only appears to constantly ask Ari to give him away at his gay marriage. That’s all he does. Vince is scared to show Ari, his agent and friend for over 15 years, the rough cut of his movie because, well, just because. In one of the film’s early party scenes, Vince and the gang are getting ready to show the movie to packed house of NFL stars and washed celebrities reprising cameos from the series. Growing impatient, the crowd begins to chant “Film!” While the crowd drones on and on chanting, Vince grows cold feet and tells the crowd that the projector is broken. Of course, nobody notices that as Vince is saying this his production company’s logo is being projected directly behind him. Then again, this film does take place just a few months following the 2011 series finale yet is still intrinsically tied to 2015, not even a minor attempt to tie the film into some kind of coherent continuity.

The most baffling aspect of Entourage is the film’s central conflict as created by Haley Joel Osment’s Travis. He withholds the funds needed for the film and demands that both Chase brothers be removed for the film because he saw Vincent Chase casually hook up with actress and model Emily Ratajkowski, who plays a slightly fictionalized version of herself. It’s so weird how this relationship, which is basically handled in 2 lone scenes, is somehow the catalyst for what Doug Ellin and company consider conflict. And this supposedly necessary romantic subplot is dropped before the film’s conclusion, Vincent with a new model on his arm. The only way that this might make any sense is if you imagine Travis as a very young Immortan Joe, the villain from Mad Max: Fury Road, and this failed interaction was his motivation for keeping a harem of imprisoned wives.

Perhaps if you’re a die-hard fan of Entourage you’ll dig the movie. For those fans, though, I’d suggest entering with caution as it’s not even a particularly effective form of lifestyle porn. Entourage hits all the notes that one would expect from a sitcom that has run well past its expiration date – A baby! A wedding! A Kelsey Grammer! As a feature length film, it’s impossible to say nice things about Entourage because it’s a meandering work devoid of merit, a loathsome and regressive work. Like the series itself, Entourage lacks anything resembling drama or tension. At the conclusion, the film wraps up the events of the film in a bow that’s all too neat, as Vincent Chase’s directorial debut is a critical and commercial smash, the film ending with Chase and company nominated for Golden Globes as we’re informed the movie has made over $450 million at the box office. It all works out for the boys on the screen. For those in the audience, it doesn’t work at all.

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