Entourage

Hollywood: Head west ’til you smell it, then take a left and keep going straight ’til you step in it. Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven star in Entourage.

EntourageCast of Characters:
Eric “E” Murphy – Kevin Connolly
Vincent Chase – Adrian Grenier
Johnny “Drama” Chase – Kevin Dillon
Salvatore “Turtle” Assante – Jerry Ferrara
Ari Gold – Jeremy Piven
Sloan McQuewick – Emmanuelle Chriqui
Melissa Gold – Perrey Reeves
Lloyd Lee – Rex Lee
Travis McCredle – Haley Joel Osment
Larsen McCredle – Billy Bob Thornton

Director – Doug Ellin
Screenplay – Doug Ellin
Based on characters created by Doug Ellin
Producer – Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson & Doug Ellin
Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use

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SPOILER ALERTS: When we last saw Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and the gang four years ago on the Entourage series finale, Vince got married, E (Kevin Connolly) and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) decided to work on their issues for the sake of their baby, Ari (Jeremy Piven) retired from the agency to be with his wife, but was offered the position of chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) were still Turtle and Drama.

Beginning a few days after the events of the finale, Vince’s divorced from his wife, E and Sloan are once again having relationship issues, Ari is now a studio head, Turtle’s hit the jackpot with his tequila company, and Drama’s still looking for his big break. Ari’s plans on his first movie being a sci-fi take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde called Hyde, and wants Vince to be his star; however, Vince drops a bombshell on Ari when he tells him he’ll only take the part if he can direct, despite having no prior directing experience.

Eight months later, and the film is over-budget and going through production issues. Vince wants the film to be perfect, but needs more money to do so, which means Ari having to involve Texan financier Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his dimwitted son Travis (Haley Joel Osment), both of whom aren’t so thrilled with the delay in production.

I was late to the Entourage TV series party, but upon finally getting a chance to play catch up a few seasons into its run, I found the show, loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s early experiences in Hollywood, to be a slick and funny take on the showbiz and celebrity world. But a good TV show doesn’t automatically guarantee a good feature film. Networks have tried it before; HBO gave Sex and the City the film treatment, and it sucked (to be honest, the show sucked too, so I guess it’s in good company), but it made a killing at the box office, which – hooray for us – meant pumping out a sequel that was ten times as horrible as its predecessor. Warner Bros. gave Veronica Mars a go last year thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, and judging from its box office results, I’m certain even the contributors failed in showing up to see it.

And unfortunately, Entourage can be added to the list of feature film version misfires.

Not to say that a film version couldn’t have worked, but here’s the big glaring problem with Entourage the movie: It pretty much does everything that’s already been done on the show. Sure, I like the show, but I’m not reviewing the show. The book’s closed there, and it ended fittingly. If you’re gonna translate your series from the TV world to the cinematic world, expand on the show’s premise; preach to the choir, of course, but make the film stand enough on its own to cater to a wider audience beyond just the crowd faithful (it’s safe to say if you weren’t a fan of the show, don’t expect to like the film). While the film generates its share of reminders of what made the show good, it’s pretty much just cameo overkill fan service that exists solely for the sake of the franchise having a movie.

Writer/director and series creator Doug Ellin actually had something potentially good in front of him with the Hyde film, Vince’s first stab at directing and Ari’s first film as studio head, but hardly goes anywhere with it. We’re told throughout the film that it’s either horrible or amazing, but it’s hard for us the viewers to know either way ’cause by the end of the film we don’t know any more about it than what we knew at the beginning. Billy Bob Thornton is fine for a couple scenes as the film’s financier, but a pleasant turn by him is countered by a wasted one by Haley Joel Osment as his doofus kid, whose antics against the film feel artificial.

Even the camaraderie between Vince, E, Turtle and Drama, a large part of what made the show fun, tends to get lost amidst Ellin giving as many recurring characters from the show their own moment or two, and every Hollywood star and their brother showing up in a cameo.

It might seem like an exaggeration, but I swear every extra seen here had to have been a well-known celebrity.

Cameos can be fun. Remember Bill Murray popping up in Zombieland as himself? Mark Hamill in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back? Gene Hackman in Young Frankenstein? Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World? They were fun; it’s overkill here. A number of recurring characters work in a series ’cause it’s not bound by a two hour time limit. Many, many cameos can work throughout the series ’cause it’s not bound by a two hour time limit. Entourage the movie is bound by a two hour time limit, however, and cramming as many recurring roles and cameos into it only serves as a distraction from what made the show so entertaining.

Plus, I have a hard time believing that Jessica Alba, of all celebrities, could push around Ari as easily as she does here. He would eat her alive.

Piven, who won three consecutive Emmys during the show’s run, is great as Ari Gold, and very few, if any, can rant and rave like he can. When not interrupted by one of Ellin’s star-studded cellphone contacts, the four main guys have a loose and easygoing chemistry. And Steven Fierberg’s cinematography gives the film a sleek and vibrant look.

But, even with the little that manages to work, if it all feels like you’ve seen it before, that’s ’cause you have when it was called Entourage the show from 2004-11.

Fans of the series may get some enjoyment out of seeing the familiar faces once again onscreen, and to be sure, Entourage is not without its moments. Grenier, Dillon, Connolly and Ferrara are all naturals with each other; Jeremy Piven steals every single scene he is in, and a couple of the innumerable, and oftentimes unnecessary, cameos actually work. However, the film is nothing more than an uninspired extended rerun of the show, and adds nothing new at all to the mix, which ultimately begs the question: What’s the point?

I give Entourage a C- (★★).

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