During its eight-season run on HBO, Entourage always seemed to be a show that people loved or hated.
Those who enjoyed the show reveled in the male fantasy it depicted. Four loyal friends stuck with each other, regardless of how much their lives changed when one cashed in the lottery ticket of movie stardom. And with that, of course, came a dream lifestyle of money, cars, mansions, parties, celebrity encounters and gorgeous women.
But Entourage also portrayed a life of extreme white privilege, in which just about everything seemed to go right for movie star Vinnie Chase, the three friends he brought with him to the top, and the hot-headed agent who was generally rewarded for his explosive tempter and treating people like shit. Women were also largely objectified, treated as conquests and play-things, rather than equals.
So if you loved Entourage the TV show, you will love Entourage the movie. As a feature-length extension of a popular series, this film does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It sticks with a familiar formula and gives the fans what they want. Vince, E, Turtle and Drama are still living the good life, better than it’s ever been. And Ari — whom I’d argue is one of TV’s greatest characters — is a force of nature, bending Hollywood to the will of his comical, barely controlled anger.
The only difference is that the movie amounts to a 100-minute episode, as opposed to a storyline that might play out in 30-minute segments over a 10- to 12-episode season. And with a feature film budget, there are scenes that simply play bigger, such as the opening sequence in which the guys are powerboating out to meet their alpha dog on a yacht populated with women in bikinis. Oh, and the credit sequence has been significantly upgraded with more location and better graphics.
Actually, those opening credits are a reflection of this entire endeavor. Rather than just following the guys on a cruise along the Sunset Strip, we’re taken on a tour around Hollywood with the names of those responsible for what we’re about to watch incorporated into the scenery. Actually, it’s mostly Doug Ellin’s name that dominates those opening credits, as well it should. He created Entourage and ran the TV show. He wrote, produced and directed this movie. As Perry Farrell sings at the end of “Superhero,” the Jane’s Addiction song that became best known as the Entourage theme, “Yeah… oh, yeah!”
I often considered myself a fan of the series, watching it regularly through its first four seasons before eventually losing interest. (The show must have lost me when Vince got fired from the sequel to Aquaman.) But I wouldn’t have called myself a diehard, seemingly disproving my theory that you either love or hate Entourage.
However, when the opening notes to “Superhero” kicked in during the movie, I got excited. I actually felt goosebumps, which I probably shouldn’t admit. I wasn’t just seeing a movie so I could write about it for The AP Party. I was happy to see some old, familiar friends again and watch them live a life I can only dream about. (Actually, I wouldn’t be interested in that lifestyle. I like to watch TV and goof around the internet in my spare time, and generally try to avoid situations in which a t-shirt and shorts aren’t appropriate. It’s not a TV show, folks.)
The argument could be made that the Entourage movie is kind of a lazy venture, since it just provides its fans with more of the same. But the story does pick up where the TV show left off and we see that the characters have developed, though haven’t really grown.
Vince’s marriage quickly fell apart and is about to be annulled (which he’s celebrating at the aforementioned yacht party off the coast of Ibiza). E and Sloan are apart, but she’s pregnant with his baby. Turtle has made a fortune with his tequila business and is constantly having to explain his surprising weight loss. Drama is still looking for his big break. And Ari is trying to be a calmer, quieter family man who now runs a studio, but can’t do his job properly unless he taps into the manic personality that made him a success.
At least the illusion of development is presented, along with an array of celebrity cameos packed into 100 minutes, rather than sprinkled throughout 12 episodes. Ronda Rousey has an amusing role as Turtle’s infatuation, but unfortunately, like every woman in the Entourage universe, that’s how she’s defined. But at least she gets to beat up one of these guys in the process, unlike Emily Ratajkowski, who turns out to be a somewhat pivotal player in the story.
Making lesser appearances throughout the film are Mark Wahlberg (of course, since Entourage was born from his story) Russell Wilson, Rob Gronkowski, Thierry Henry, T.I., Clay Matthews, Jon Favreau, Liam Neeson, Pharrell Williams, Gary Busey, Kelsey Grammar, Armie Hammer and Jessica Alba. And those are just the names and faces I remember, hours after having watched this movie.
There is sort of a story here, preventing Entourage from solely being a gratuitous on-screen reunion and box office cash-grab. Vince wants to get back in the movie game after his fling with marriage and contacts his old agent, who happens to have a project waiting for him. The catch is that Vince doesn’t just want to act in this big-budget venture; he wants to direct it. Cue the steam coming out of Ari’s ears. If there’s a villain to the piece, it’s the entitled son (Haley Joel Osment) of the Texas oil billionaire (Billy Bob Thornton) who’s bankrolling this operation, and thus needs his ass properly kissed.
But as you would expect, the story is almost incidental. It’s just a delivery device to move these characters along to the next comedic situation and whatever celebrity encounter comes with it. And that’s OK. That’s really what Entourage always was, right? Yes, it was presumably the story of four friends, led by the star who never forgot the guys who came along on the ride with him and the mentor who believed in his talent. These people don’t really deal with any adversity or consequences, so much as minor bumps on the road to fabulousness.
To me, there are far worse ways to spend your 10 dollars and two hours at the movies. No, Entourage isn’t memorable, but not every movie has to be. (Well, maybe it has to be for some people to justify the expense and trouble of going to the theater. I get that.)
Sometimes, it’s just about having a good time. And this was a lot of fun. Even if you weren’t a fan of the TV show, I believe you’ll find something to enjoy here. However, I don’t know why the hell you’d want to see this movie in the first place. Entourage doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is and celebrating that feels just fine.