Entourage Written and directed by Doug Ellin; with Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Haley Joel Osment, Billy Bob Thornton, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rex Lee, Debi Mazar, Perrey Reeves, Piers Morgan
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It’s been four years since the HBO series “Entourage” finished its television run after eight seasons, which were a couple too many. At first the show had a certain charm, offering a kind of teen fantasy tinged with gentle satire of Hollywood. But toward the end, it simply became bland and pointless.
For some reason a ninth season has now been made in the shape of a movie – perhaps thanks to the box office success of the two “Sex and the City” films. “Entourage,” however, never became a cultural phenomenon like its older HBO sibling, so the decision to continue it on the big screen seems a peculiar one to me. Do people really miss the show’s five protagonists and their hedonistic yet naive take on life? And didn’t those “Sex and the City” movies offer enough of a cautionary tale? Although they both made money, they also ruined whatever pleasant memories we may have had of the show on which they were based.
Of course, there wasn’t much left to ruin after the last seasons of “Entourage.” But trust HBO, Mark Wahlberg (the show’s creative force and one of the movie’s producers), and showrunner Doug Ellin, who also wrote and directed the film: they managed to do it anyway.
“Entourage” the movie is almost bizarrely bad, considering that the show itself was amiable enough for the first couple of seasons. Instead of returning to those early days, the movie continues the decline of the show’s final years and brings it to new depths of emptiness, blandness, vulgarity and even amateurism.
For those who didn’t follow the show on television, I’ll say only that it tells the tale of an actor named Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), his brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon), also an actor, and their two friends, Eric (Kevin Connolly), known as “E,” and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). They all came to Hollywood from Queens, hoping to make it big with the help of an agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) – a caricature Hollywood player driven by desperate ambition who was often the show’s main attraction.
The movie picks up where the show left off, and it does so badly. Vince, who became a star thanks to his role in “Aquaman” – a James Cameron movie that was the biggest box office hit of all time – is partying on a yacht in Ibiza, surrounded by women in skimpy bikinis. His fun is interrupted when Eric, who is his personal manager, Johnny (still dreaming of his own success) and Turtle – now making a killing in the beverage business – all arrive to inform him that Ari has become head of a Hollywood studio. He plans to make a big-budget, futuristic fantasy based on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” with Vince as the star and Eric as producer. He is even willing to let Vince direct.
Failing on all levels
The beginning seems lifted out of a particularly cheap teen comedy with hints of soft porn, and matters don’t improve when we leave Ibiza for Hollywood. There we get to follow Vince and Ari’s bumpy ride as they pursue their production dreams, as well as the protagonists’ new romantic entanglements. These include Eric’s attempts to rekindle a relationship with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who is pregnant with his child.
Ari’s main problem is that most of the budget for the movie comes from a wealthy Texan, the rather terrifying Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton). As the production’s budget mushrooms, he refuses to provide any more money until he’s convinced the investment is worth it. To this end, he dispatches his rather dense son, Travis, to Hollywood. The son is played by Haley Joel Osment, and while it’s a little shocking to see what happened to his delicate face since he was the boy who saw dead people in 1999’s “The Sixth Sense,” he’s also the only actor here who seems to be making any kind of effort.
Travis, who lacks all qualifications for the task but does have a secret agenda, announces that the movie is terrible – even though others who saw it believe it to be a masterpiece that is sure to win awards and become a big hit (incidentally, the few bits we do witness suggest that Travis is actually right).
Based on this plot premise – if you can call it that – Ellin constructs a movie that doesn’t work on any level. It fails as a story about Vince’s ongoing friendships with his brother, Eric and Turtle, and fails equally as a satire of modern Hollywood. There are numerous cameo appearances by B-list television and film celebrities playing themselves (the exceptions being Liam Neeson and billionaire Warren Buffett, whose appearance is particularly embarrassing).
The movie’s main victims are the four friends. Connolly and Ferrara were never particularly impressive in the show; they had a sympathetic but monotonous presence, which only becomes more obvious on the big screen. Dillon was occasionally amusing as an actor dreaming of stardom and escaping his brother’s shadow, but his movie role is a crude, charmless facsimile of what he did on the show for eight seasons.
One of the show’s problems, which the movie magnifies, is that Grenier’s Vince never really seemed to have what it takes to become a star – and a mega star at that. So where does he suddenly get the idea of directing that kind of film? Ellin’s movie never once treats Vince as any kind of artist; he’s always only a pawn on the Hollywood chessboard. He’s a star but not really a character, which makes him very dull to follow. Unlike the stories told in other movies