Oh yeah! Oh yeah!
Bros and babes partying on a boat, athletes and celebrities popping up everywhere, the thumping strains of Jane’s Addiction’s Superhero … this must a time warp back to 2005, when Entourage was riding high and HBO was more than Game of Thrones.
But it’s not. Time has moved on — for everyone but Vinnie Chase and his pals — and Entourage, the movie, is at least five years late and a few million brain cells short. What worked on TV (for a few minutes at a time) — the immediacy, the sunny locations, the stars, the good-natured show biz satire, the idea that four dudes from Queens really could make it in Hollywood — mostly falls flat when stretched out to feature length. It’s like watching a high-school football star trying to squeeze into his old uniform after a decade: funny at times, but kind of embarrassing.
The action picks up right where the series left off. Mellow movie star and Chin Dimple Hall of Famer Vince (Adrian Grenier) has gotten divorced after a week in Europe and calls his posse over to Ibiza to celebrate. Earnest best pal and manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), half-wit half-brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon) and newly slimmed-down Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) hop abroad for some more leeching off Vince … make that, fun and adventure. They call up uber-uptight manager Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who’s left retirement behind and is running a studio. And hey, he offers Vince $100 million to star and direct in a Jekyll and Hyde update called Hyde. And there’s a plum part for Drama. Life is sweet, bro!
That’s pretty much it for the plot. Vince is not shown actually directing the movie because that would be too ridiculous even for Entourage. We can suspend some disbelief — nobody in Hollywood would give this amiable dim bulb $100 to direct anything except traffic at a crosswalk — but there has to be some grounding in reality. Most of it (and most of the acting, and most of the laughs) comes from Piven, whose short fuse and acid tongue earned him three Emmys on the series. He’s a real actor in all the ways Grenier, Connolly, and Ferrara are not: timing, closeups, facial and body expressions, voice inflections. Dillon can do two variations on one trick — he can summon pity or anger by blinking and mugging outrageously — and he does it well. The other guys walk and talk and keep everything on cruise control.
Their weaknesses are much more apparent when the necessary annoyances of a movie (narrative tension, character development, etc.) are factored in and they have to do scenes with Billy Bob Thornton, the studio’s Texas money man, and Haley Joel Osment, his meddlesome son. They’re better, and so is Entourage, when they’re hitting on model Emily Ratajkowski (Vince) or mixed-martial artist Ronda Rousey (Turtle). The stream of celebrities is diverting and sometimes hilarious (Warren Buffett is wasted, but Liam Neeson says it all without saying a word).
And what about the women? They’re everywhere, and they’re objectified by writer-director Doug Ellin, who lingers on each tanned curve and pouting, parted lip. The plot complication, such as it is, involves a misunderstanding over which swain is the worthier object of Ratajkowski’s affections. (“This is all over a girl?” someone scoffs.)
What’s interesting about that is the women of Entourage, Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves) and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) dominate the men and are better actors than their male counterparts, other than Piven. Dana Gordon (Constance Zimmer) usually gets the best of Ari when she gets a chance. If she was running the studio, Vince would never get the chance to direct, and neither would Doug Ellin.
But Entourage might be a hit, and Mark Wahlberg, whose life is the basis for the show, is already talking about a sequel. It couldn’t be any worse than Sex and the City 2 (the one where they go to Abu Dhabi). And speaking of sequels that objectify the opposite sex, an innuendo-drenched trailer for Magic Mike XXL preceded Entourage at the screening I attended. Entourage revels in the excesses of the subculture it’s supposed to be satirizing; so does Magic Mike XXL. What’s good for the golden goose is good enough for Hollywood.
Cast: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Piven, Jerry Ferrara, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Perrey Reeves, Rex Lee, Haley Joel Osment, Billy Bob Thornton.
Director: Doug Ellin.
Screenwriters: Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss.
A Warner Bros. release. Running time: 104 minutes. Vulgar language, strong sexual content, nudity, drug use. Playing at area theaters.