Entourage (15) | Film Review
Dir. Doug Ellin, US, 2015, 104 mins
Cast: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connelly, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Piven, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Perry Reeves, Haley Joel Osment, Billy Bob Thornton, Emily Ratajkowski, Ronda Rousey, Rex Lee, Scott Mescudi, Debi Mazar, Rhys Coiro
Doug Ellin hasn’t missed a beat in the four or so years since the finale of his HBO hit, and neither have the boys (albeit Jerry Ferrara lost a sh*tload of weight and Kevin Dillon is definitely getting on a bit in years). They’re still the same misogynistic, jumped-up wankers that we can’t help but want to be friends with (that feeling is usually followed by a heavy dose of shame). It’s an adolescent male fantasy to be an attractive mover and shaker in Hollywood, able to callously get with women and hang out with celebrities. A show that perhaps started as a satire some ten years ago has now simply become the mindless, shallow entertainment it supposedly once skewered. If that’s what you’re in the market for, then that’s what you’re gonna get – and Ellin and his cohorts do it all extremely well.
The story is basically this: Ari (Piven), agent-cum-studio head, is greenlighting his first big movie. He wants pet project Hollywood superstar Vince (Grenier) to star. Vince decides he wants to direct. Ari obliges, and 8 months later Vince is $15 mil over-budget in the editing bay, and needs more money – leaving Ari to try and persuade his Texan financiers, as played by Billy Bob Thornton and his son Haley Joel Osment, to provide him with the dough. That’s pretty much it, other than a useless string of subplots regarding the others members of the titular entourage.
Piven is, of course, MVP. It’s truly a treat to see the brutal, rapier wit of Ari Gold return to our screens – on the big screen, no less – with such flawless execution. Piven’s clearly loving it, too, and the enthusiasm is infectious. His performance and his relentless shouty tirades are most assuredly worth the price of admission alone. He even gets one or two sweet, human moments that show his time with the boys over the last decade has actually softened him up about 0.01%, which is nice.
The others have always been window dressing for the one-man-show that is Ari Gold, and that continues here. Vince is an empty vessel; the man has rarely had a discerning character trait or motivation beyond wanting to do movies and bang hot women. In the world of Entourage, what more do you need? In the real world, we need much, much more – and that is reflected in our love of storytelling. It’s a basic tenet of filmmaking that we need more than a beige, reactionary character to be the lynchpin of our stories – it’s great that Vince succeeds all the time, truly. But why should we care? Greek-god-looking perennially-nice guys to whom nothing ever really goes wrong just aren’t that fascinating. Eric, or “E” (Connelly), Turtle (Ferrara) and Johnny Drama (Dillon) remain infinitely more interesting than Vince because they have actual character traits and suffer real defeats (in the TV show, at least… from time to time).
It’s saying something when those characters aren’t much more enjoyable to watch than Vince because of said personality flaws. E can’t see the good life right in front of him, and Drama has always been an annoying arsehole who deserves to rot in mediocrity, mainly due to his rampant misogyny and self-aggrandising. Turtle was always the halfway-decent one, constantly an underdog – although seeing that he wins all the time these days also, and trim like Vince now, he’s not really that interesting anymore either. The only turnaround from silver to big screen is that Drama is actually a lot less annoying. You find yourself positively cheering for him by the end; the look of shock on his face when something actually good happens to him is incredibly endearing and forgives all that stuff about rotting mentioned a couple of sentences ago.
In the end, you know why you come to see Entourage. You liked the show. Ari Gold is hilarious. The cameos are endlessly entertaining and diverting. The story is fun – as a peek behind the curtain in regards to how a film actually gets made, it’s actually rather interesting. However it’s all draped in ridiculous melodrama and male power fantasy baloney; this film could actually be extremely more dramatic and lifelike, engaging and relevant if it wasn’t so committed to being a dumb movie about dumb guys (and Ari) living a great lifestyle surrounded by fast cars and sexy women. Speaking of which, if there was terminology for the exact opposite of passing the Bechdel Test – the word Entourage would most likely be included somehow.
All of that doesn’t stop the movie being so much damn fun, though. It just depends on how much of your soul you’re willing to have scraped off in the process. For this writer, it was a fair amount. Roll on Entourage II: Back in the Habit.
Review by Daniel Woburn