A film review by Craig J. Koban June 11, 2015


2015, R, 114 mins.


Adrian Grenier as Vincent Chase  /  Jerry Ferrara as Turtle  /  Kevin Connolly as Eric Murphy  /  Kevin Dillon as Johnny Chase  /  Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold  /  Billy Bob Thornton as Financier  /  Haley Joel Osment as Travis  /  Perrey Reeves as Melissa Gold  /  Emmanuelle Chriqui as Sloane  /  Rhys Coiro as Billy Walsh  /  Constance Zimmer as Dana Gordon  /  Nora Dunn as Dr. Marcus

Written and directed by Doug Ellin

I have no real idea how to review the ENTOURAGE movie.  

For people like me – and many others – that followed the Doug Ellin created HBO TV series (which ran for 8 seasons between 2004 and 2011 and concerned a young man from Queens that relocated to Hollywood with his bros to make it big in the movies) the film will feel like welcome and inviting terrain.  Even though I felt that the series segued from a modestly involving tale of an actor’ struggles to adjust to cutthroat Tinsel town politics and life, the casual ENTOURAGE fan in me nonetheless has to concede that the series finale was a somewhat smug farewell for its characters.  Now comes the inevitable movie (hot off the heels of HBO’s SEX AND THE CITY film adaptations) that captures some of the ENTOURAGE series charm, but also makes some of the same unforgivable mistakes of its last season.

For those that haven’t seen the show that spawned this film, ENTOURAGE deals with Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier, high on looks and star appeal, but low on charisma and range), the aforementioned New Yorker that became – as the series progressed – a major box office attraction (he went from appearing in Mentos commercials to staring in the lead role of James Cameron’s AQUAMAN, just one of the many real life celeb references in the series).  Always in tow with Vince were his squadron of BFFs, including E (Kevin Connolly), his younger brother – and failed actor – Drama (Kevin Dillon), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and, most crucially, his hot heated, motor mouthed agent Ari Gold (played with sublime self-serving narcissism by the great Jeremy Piven).  The show – based loosely on the producer Mark Wahlberg’s own up-and-coming history as a Hollywood star – showed great delight in highlighting Vincent’s unlikely highs and lows as a bankable Hollywood entity while, at the same time, featuring an ample number of celebrities making guest staring turns playing hilariously fictionalized versions of themselves.  Matt Damon playing himself as a ludicrously aggressive charity organizer and fundraiser was a series highlight for me ("Give me the f--king check, Vince!  I can't believe I have an Academy Award and I'm calling you back...AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!").



Oh yeah, as for the film?  It takes place just a few weeks after the TV series finale (quite odd, especially considering that the actors all now appear several years older) and Vincent Chase has found himself a free single man again after his marriage failed…after nine days.  His main buddy E (always Vincent’s career voice of reason) has become a bit of a hedonistic clown, despite the fact that he’s about to be a father to his first child with his ex Sloan.  Turtle, on the other hand, has slimmed down considerably and made a ton of money off of a very lucrative business venture selling Tequila.  Drama…poor Drama…still lives in his brother’s shadow, but he still loves him to death regardless.  As for Ari?  He has retired from the insane pressures and stresses of agent life…to take on a new set of insane pressures and stresses as the head of a major studio.

Speaking of stresses, Ari decides to bankroll Vincent’s latest cinematic offering, an incredibly preposterous looking update of JEKYLL AND HYDE, which not only the pretty boy actor stars in, but also directs (his debut).  Considering that Vincent has little to no experience behind the camera whatsoever, Ari is left betting the farm on the promises of his friend and colleague that the film will be amazing.  There’s one problem, though: Vincent’s vision for the movie has gone staggeringly over budget, leaving him asking Ari to go back to the financiers to give him more loot to finish the film (now, it’s never really explained why the uber rich Vincent – or newly rich Turtle – can’t just fork over the extra cash that's needed).  Begrudgingly, Ari ventures to Texas to see the moneymen, played inexplicably by Billy Bob Thornton and a rather hairy and portly Haley Joel Osment as two obligatory gun and ranch loving Texas stereotypes.  It appears that they refuse Ari’s request for more money, that is unless they can see a cut of Vincent’s film first, which the highly guarded director/star seems unwilling to do.  

Ooooooh…the tension!

Okay, obvious sarcasm aside, ENTOURAGE has never really allowed itself to get truly down and dirty with its characters and their predicaments.  For the most part, there was very little tangible dramatic suspense in the series because the trials and tribulations of Vincent and his posse never really felt all that taxing.  Rarely was there a moment when you were left doubting if Vincent would end up on top and be okay, which is certainly a problem that plagues this movie.  Some have lambasted the series (and this film) for soft pedaling both Hollywood lifestyles of the rich and famous and for not seriously sinking its satiric teeth into the underlining material, which is a fair assessment.  ENTOURAGE was written and directed by Ellin will little regard to taking any chances with the characters.  It’s more of a joyous parade of their minor setbacks and then later joyous career successes.  He also misses real opportunities to comment on how movies get made and financed.  Vincent’s movie within the movie gets so little actual coverage that you are left wondering what the film is actually about and whether or not he has any semblance of talent as a director or actor.  Too much of ENTOURAGE feels watered down and sanitized.

Character dynamics also feel a bit too pedestrian here: Vincent remains naively optimistic about everything; Turtle is equally short sighted, but well meaning; Ari remains megalomaniacal and unhinged at the core (granted, delightfully and entertainingly so); and Drama still remains a likable idiot that still desperately searches for industry acceptance despite his many failed attempts.  E, on the other hand, flirts with self-destructive promiscuity much more than he did in the series, but it’s really hard to care about his on-again/off-again romance with Sloane (how many times have they broken up?).  Still, there are many amusing beats and subplots to be had in the film, like Turtle’s sweet and sincere attempts to court Rhonda Rousey (playing a version of her MMA self) and Osment’s turn his fairly loathsome and creepy skirt-chasing financier that will stop at nothing to derail Vincent’s film.  Drama's series spanning story arc of soul crushing failure ends with a deeply satisfying – although remarkably incredulous – bang.  I also greatly enjoyed the litany of celeb cameos in the film, perhaps my favorite being Kelsey Grammar, who goes to the same psychiatrist that Ari sees (get it?).

I don’t know what else to say about this film.  Yes, ENTOURAGE is an exhibition of douchbaggery and Hollywood elitism, but at least Vincent and his inner circle are well meaning and fairly endearing douchebags that have their hearts in the right place.  The core of the film – and the series – is about the relationships between all of these men, and on those levels ENTOURAGE works in sporadic dosages.  Ultimately, Ellin and company understand their viewers, but at the expense of failing to introduce new audience members into the fold.  Series regulars will most assuredly get a kick out of revisiting these characters again on the big screen, whereas anyone else…I’m just not sure that you have any valid reason for seeing this film.  I give ENTOURAGE two and half stars, which is a fair middle ground rating.  I recommend it to devotees of the HBO series, but simply can’t for others unfamiliar with it.  If Ellin was attempting to make a 100-plus minute episode of his TV show for big screen consumption, then I guess he’s succeeded.  Alas, I left the screening wishing that his creative ambitions were a bit loftier.  

At least Vincent Chase is making a techo-infused JEKYLL AND HYDE movie within the movie. That's kind of novel.  

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