Doug Reviews: Entourage

entourage_ver2_xlgMovies based on TV shows are tricky things. Some are great self-contained stories that not only please fans of the series, but also create new fans of the property, like in the case of X-Files, while others are throwbacks to an earlier, more creative period of a long-running series, like in the case of The Simpsons Movie. Then there are movies like Entourage.

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT, I guess

Entourage, like the HBO show that preceded it, tells the story of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), an actor trying to make it in Hollywood, and the group of friends who are with him along for the ride: his manager, Eric (Kevin Connolly), older brother and fellow actor, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), and his driver, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). Also involved in this is Vince’s agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). As the film opens—about six months after the series finale—Vince has just ended a nine day marriage, Eric is expecting a baby with his ex, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Drama is still struggling in the acting world, Turtle has come into his own fortune by means that he won’t reveal, and Ari has gone from super-agent to the head of a film studio. For his first greenlight, he wants Vince involved, but Vince wants to direct whatever he does next. Cue the theme song.

As Vince works to complete his film, he runs into budgetary problems when Ari’s co-financier, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), holds back more money until he sees some results. Larsen sends his son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment) to Los Angeles to see Vince’s film and report back to him. Both Ari and Travis see the film. Ari loves it, while Travis hates it. Travis introduces himself to Vince as a fan of his work, but then proceeds to dump all over the movie, especially Drama’s parts, which everyone else thinks are very good. However, and I guess you can qualify this as a spoiler, even though the plot twist—if it can be called that—is so obvious at the start, only the most distracted moviegoer wouldn’t pick up on it, Travis is also infatuated with Emily Ratajkowski, who plays herself in the film, and Emily has a thing going on with Vince. Yes, the major hang-up and plot conflict is over a supermodel. Thank you, Entourage. While all this is going on, Turtle tries to woo UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, also playing herself, while Drama runs afoul of a woman’s husband and Eric has his own lady problems.

The ultimate problem with Entourage the movie, as well as last few seasons of Entourage the TV show, is that the audience never believes that everything won’t work out fine for all the characters. Obstacles are put in their paths, but they are so paper thin, they can’t even be called obstacles. The biggest example of this comes about halfway through the film where Eric is led to believe he has impregnated another girl he has been seeing. However, before he finds this out, she breaks up with him and he ends up sleeping with another girl at a party. He plans to meet the pregnant girl at a restaurant and bumps into the second girl. The two of them let him have it only to reveal that they know each other and were only trying to teach him a lesson. Yeah, he learned a lesson all right: “I can get away with anything!” Turtle keeps the source of his newfound wealth a secret and you begin to suspect it might be illegal—nope, he’s just selling tequila with Mark Cuban, (also playing himself). Ooh, the tension was killing me. In the early seasons of the show, Vince was really chasing after success, but once he found it, the show just became a masturbatory exercise and the movie just continues the self-gratification.

The other big problem with Entourage as a whole is its two leads. Vince and Eric are the blandest characters you could ever find. The movie only really gets good when Drama shows up to pull his antics or Ari is in a scene—all these years later and Ari is still Gold. A better show would have been Ari as Drama’s agent or even better, have Ari’s former assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee) be Drama’s agent and have Ari be the boss. This would have injected some character into the proceedings instead of having a boring, predictable film with several funny scenes.

The cast is loaded with celebrity cameos and some hit, while others miss. Rousey is good in her scenes, while Ratajkowski falls flat in hers, which was surprising considering I liked her in Gone Girl—sorry Emily, I love you, but even Cindy Crawford was a terrible actress. Mark Wahlberg—a producer on both the show and movie—has a good scene and Chad Lowe is hilarious in his cameo. The others have varying success. Some are spot on, while most feel just shoehorned into the proceedings. Here was another issue with the film: who are Shauna (Debi Mazar) and Billy (Rhys Coiro)? I mean, I know because I’ve watched the show, but to someone just looking to see a fun summer comedy, these characters are never introduced or explained and they show up in several scenes. This is where something like X-Files worked much better. All the characters in the show were explained as they showed up in the movie. It’s not a hard lesson to learn—it’s only been out there since 1998.

Overall, Entourage definitely has some funny scenes in it and it soars when Jeremy Piven is onscreen, but otherwise it’s a self-indulgent, predictable movie and just one long episode of the show. Your best bet is to wait for it when it premieres, suitably, on HBO and spend your money at the theater seeing Melissa McCarthy’s SPY.

Rating: C

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