‘I’ ON CULTURE
HBO ran a series called Entourage for eight years chronicling the exploits of a few guys from Queens in Hollywood. It was a pleasant diversion with cameo appearances by denizens of show business. Five years after the series ended, HBO created a sequel as a movie. Although amusing, it basically is just a double episode of the series. It is also self-indulgent to the extreme.
In the series, Ari (Jeremy Piven), an agent, spotted Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) in a Mentos commercial and decided he could be a star. To make the experience “more real,” his buddies were invited along: E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and his half-brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon). The series meandered through the Hollywood scene as Vinnie went through all the stereotyped happenings of a young star: stardom, disaster, rehab, etc., while his buddies enjoyed the fancy lifestyle.
In the movie, Vinnie wants to direct. Ari, now head of a studio, lets him do it, and problems arise. His buddy E, not only his manager but the film’s producer, had let costs get out of hand and they need more money. Ari has to go to Texas financier McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son (Haley Joel Osment) for cash. The kid comes to Hollywood, falls for Emily Ratajkowski, sees Vinnie with her, and does everything possible to mess up the film.
In the meantime, E is going through a tough time. His ex (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is pregnant but is not living with him, unable to forgive him for sleeping with her stepmother, In the meantime, he continues to play the field. Turtle, who has lost an enormous amount of weight, is both rich and absolutely smitten with lady fighter Ronda Rousey. Johnny Drama, is, well, a well-meaning idiot who is famed for bad acting and a selfie that goes far beyond embarrassing.
In the long run, of course, Ari handles things and everyone is happy. After all, this is a comedy. The fact that none of it makes sense is irrelevant as it touches all the bases: our heroes are all nice guys, Hollywood women are all gorgeous and movie executives are all groveling idiots. If you were a fan of the show, you will probably have a great time. If not, this is actually a reasonably amusing, long regular episode. There is a lot of charm, a lot of feeling of being “inside Hollywood” because of the dozens of cameos done by a wide variety of known faces.
The performances are mostly perfunctory. Connolly seems appropriately confused as a producer, over his head and a man unable to understand women at all. Grenier is mostly just handsome and charming. Ratajkowski plays herself and seems believable. Rousey probably has the largest female part, playing herself as well, but also demonstrating a nice comic touch. Osment was good as the obnoxious Texan. Piven is very funny, as usual, as he tries to work through his anger management while exploding regularly. Dillon steals almost every scene he is in.
The series itself was based on a fictionalized account of the life and early times of Mark Wahlberg (back when he was known as Marky Mark) as he careered through Hollywood. Of course, this is almost certainly sanitized. Wahlberg does a cameo as well, and it is as brainless as all the other ones in the film.
Several warnings about taste should be included. The film is more than a bit misogynistic. Except perhaps for Chriqui, women are essentially around for sex. And being from HBO, there is nudity. There is a long-running series of gay jokes as Ari’s former assistant (Rex Lee) constantly calls for advice on his upcoming marriage.
While some of the wisecracks and the casual treatment of women are funny, the extent of it makes it seem somewhat out of our politically correct time. If you are easily offended, this movie is probably not for you. However, most of the non-PC elements got laughs from the audience; they were tasteless, but funny.
But if you are judging based on the movie’s demographic appeal and its niche when it was a regular series, it does succeed. The plot barely exists; the main story line is so thin that it almost disappears. Actually, it does disappear for long stretches as other sub-plots, also just about as meaningless, take up time.
If that is what you like, see it. If not, wait until it’s on HBO.