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Film Review: "Entourage" 

True bromance

Raymond Chandler once wrote, "The dilemma of the critic has always been that if he knows enough to speak with authority, he knows too much to speak with detachment." So please let that serve as my disclaimer for whatever happens next, because I've seen every episode of the HBO series "Entourage," which ran for eight seasons from 2004 to 2011, and I adore it. "Hang on a second," you might be thinking. "Dayna seems like an evolved female, culturally sophisticated, presumably non-lobotomized, past 40 but looks way younger; why would she be into that crass, Hollywood-insider nonsense about a pack of knuckle-dragging dude-bros?"

First of all, thank you! You're awfully kind. Second, not everything is meant to be good for you -- or even particularly good -- as further demonstrated by the predictable yet mostly satisfying "Entourage," an unnecessary big-screen adaptation which follows the continued adventures of Vince, Eric, Drama, Turtle, and Ari as they navigate the entertainment industry and screw hot girls. Oh, and maintain their friendships, because that's at the heart of it all.

"Entourage" picks up about two weeks after the series finale, with the boys from Queens -- manager Eric aka E (Kevin Connolly), big brother and C-list actor Johnny Drama (dependable buffoon Kevin Dillon), and driver-turned-tequila-mogul Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) -- converging on Ibiza to meet up with movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) following the dissolution of his nine-day marriage. ("I may have to jerk it before we even get there" is the film's opening line and definitive proof that we're back in "Entourage" territory.) Over in Italy, newly retired superagent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, reprising what will likely go down as his signature role) has agreed to return to Hollywood as the head of a major studio. And for his first project, Ari wants to work with Vince again. But what Vince really wants to do is direct.

Jump forward eight months; Vince's directorial debut, a terrible-looking futuristic action film based on "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," is way over budget, and the need to secure more funding from Billy Bob Thornton as a humorless Texas oil baron is what kicks the gossamer plot into gear. A slumming Haley Joel Osment adopts a Bill Clinton-meets-Foghorn Leghorn accent as the oilman's spoiled son who travels to Hollywood to protect the investment and maul some starlets. Each of the main characters gets a thread: Turtle tries to woo MMA fighter Ronda Rousey; Drama becomes embroiled in a sex-tape scandal; and E somewhat improbably has too many women on his hands, including ex-girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who is about to give birth to their child. Meanwhile, Ari continues to work on his seething rage issues, usually -- and thankfully, and hilariously -- without success.

Its depiction of the fairer sex has always been the single biggest problem in the "Entourage" universe, with the majority of the women portrayed as manipulative ballbusters, greedy shrews, or brainless ragdolls, mixing and matching as required for storyline purposes. They rarely have any fun or purpose of their own. Their sole raison d'ĂȘtre is to further and/or thwart the personal and/or professional lives of the men. The movie carries on the series' grand (read: stupid) tradition of misogyny, almost as though writer-director (and series creator) Doug Ellin has never met a real, live woman. But why switch things up now?

For the most part, however, the qualities that made "Entourage" a dig-able show remain intact. Yeah, Vince & Co. are no longer the bumbling outsiders they were back at the beginning, and their rich-people worries are nearly impossible to relate to at this point. But the entrenched camaraderie between the five of them is as raunchy and cutting as ever -- Piven, who won three Emmys for playing Ari, continues to be the draw here. And nonstop cameos from the likes of Liam Neeson, Mark Cuban, Bob Saget, and Mark Wahlberg (the show was loosely based on his own Hollywood experience, minus the criminal activity) provide many of them what must have been irresistible opportunities to act like complete jackasses.

So, in a nutshell, if you've never seen the series, you never need to see the movie explicitly about the series. (I also gotta wonder why you bothered reading this. Don't you have anything better to do?) And if you have seen the series, well, you still don't need to see the movie. But you can if you want to. It's a free country, and the places that show movies have air conditioning.

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