Entourage is Enjoyable but Empty

In 2004, HBO premiered a series that was loosely based on Mark Wahlberg and his experiences when he and his childhood friends moved to Hollywood. Show-runner, Doug Ellin, took this loose association and applied it to his New York background, and created the show, Entourage. It became a well-received show that showcased the loyalty of friends in the presence of all the glitz and glamour that Hollywood has to offer. In its eight seasons, Entourage racked up 26 Emmy nominations and 6 wins. What Sex and the City meant for women, Entourage meant for men. So, it is no surprise that 4 years after the show ended it is following in Sex and the City’s footsteps, and is releasing a feature-length film in the theaters.

Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillion, Jerry Ferrara, and Kevin Connolly in Entourage

Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillion, Jerry Ferrara, and Kevin Connolly in Entourage

Entourage follows movie star, Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), and his best friends, Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), as they try to live out the largest dreams in Hollywood. Wanting girls, money, and fame the boys will stop at nothing to achieve their goals-that even means taking on a risky movie project with their frequent business partner, Arie Gold (Jeremy Piven). This movie, which is also Vinnie’s directorial debut, can be the one project that could make or break all of them.

The transition from TV show to film for Entourage is mostly successful in what it sets out to do. Entourage set the stage for the continuation of the party Vinnie Chase and crew started in 2004 and ended in 2011. The movie version is not forced and is not overreaching its limits. The film mostly sticks to its comfort zone of execution and style of comedy, which makes the film feel like an extended version of one of the episodes in the series’ 8 seasons. This should be very enticing for many fans of the original series. Show creator and now writer and director, Doug Ellin, highlights all of the strengths that are found in the original series. The comedic story is still about the bromance, bravado, fame, fortune, temptation, and loyalty in fictionalized Hollywood. This plays out extravagantly on the big screen and the douchebaggery is still in full effect. This provides the movie the same enjoyment that many had when watching the series. However, along with the strengths also come the many weaknesses that are present in the story.  The most notable weakness is that Entourage has lost its comedic edginess. It has nothing important, funny, or new to say and feels like it is stuck in the mid 2000s. Another weakness is the empty plot that goes nowhere exciting or interesting. Ellin has used many of the same elements found within the plot’s movie much more effectively in the original series. Also like the series there are not enough of risks involved. The crew doesn’t face any high stakes and true challenges. Unfortunately, Ellin is not able to expand on his initial story, which makes the movie experience merely a passable reunion for casual fans. As for the newcomers, many will feel like they missed the boat on this party. Nevertheless, the most entertaining aspect of the film still comes from the original cast members.

Just like the original series, once again Jeremy Piven is the MVP of the cast. Piven is right at home when playing hotheaded, big shot Arie Gold. He creates the biggest laughs of the film and is the only character (aside from the great Ronda Rousey) that constantly gets over with the audience. Following Gold run around Los Angeles yelling at anyone in shouting distance rarely gets old, and the juggling act of his potential professional life and personal life does make for some fun, interesting storytelling. Gold is arguably the glue that holds the gang and the movie together. In addition to Piven’s Gold, Kevin Dillon’s Johnny Drama had the most rewarding storyline in the movie. The die-hard fans of the TV show will greatly appreciate the evolution- or lack thereof- in Drama. More importantly, Drama’s quest for fame definitely made the most fluid transition from show to film. As for the rest of the gang (Connolly, Grenier, and Ferrara) they had their respective moments, and still have terrific chemistry with Piven and Dillon. It is like visiting old friends again and picking up where you left off. However, Connolly, Grenier, and Ferrara are mostly just a part of lesser storylines that has been done better on the show. This leads to not the greatest first impression for newcomers and feelings of dissatisfaction for true fans.

Next to the familiar faces of Entourage, are an abundance of cameos that are a mixed bag. Without spoiling any of the surprises, a handful of the celebrities that appear do play up to the laughs perfectly; however, a lot of them-and there are a lot- are just a hindrance that diminishes the effectiveness of a good cameo. Furthermore, the newest pair of actors to join the crew are Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment. They play father and son Texans who finance Vince’s new picture. Billy Bob is in a limited role that just serves as an ineffective obstacle to the original cast. Surprisingly, Haley is the one that has a good amount of screen time. Haley is successful at being the creepy, annoying character, but is let down by an elementary story device that unsatisfying resolves his and his father’s storyline.

Entourage is simply made for die-hard fans of the TV show. Sure casual fans and non-fans can still find some enjoyment in the feature-length film, but Doug Ellin and company do not do enough to make this movie more appealing for the newcomers.  This creates a miss opportunity that leads to a somewhat unsatisfying experience that leaves you on the outside looking in and not part of the entourage. 

The cast includes: Kevin Connolly (He’s Just Not That Into You), Adrian Grenier (Drive Me Crazy), Kevin Dillon (The Doors), Jerry Ferrara (Last Vegas), Jeremy Piven (Old School), and Haley Joel Osment (Pay It Forward). It was written and directed by Doug Ellin (Entourage).

2 Stars

-By Louie Coruzzolo

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