When Entourage the TV show hit the small screen back in 2004, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t make a big impression here in the UK. It never had a regular slot on a mainstream channel, which was a shame as Entourage was easily one of the best things on TV during the 2000’s. It was set in the world of Hollywood and followed hot up-and-coming actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his loyal entourage of ‘bros’ – his manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), older brother and failed actor Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), and driver/general dogsbody Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). Also thrown into the mix was Chase’s agent - and the real star of Entourage - Ari Gold, played absolutely brilliantly by Jeremy Piven. The show was an expose of sorts, all based on co-creator Mark Wahlberg’s actual Hollywood experiences. The Hollywood curtain has been pulled back as we get to eavesdrop on big studio meetings, hang out with actors at swish parties, and witness the frantic energy expelled by Hollywood agents trying to get actors their dream roles.
The series worked wonderfully in its 25 minute format, and usually centred around Ari trying to get his ‘boy’ Vince into the latest big franchise movie. The episodes were smart, witty, featured hilarious cameos, and were just utterly entertaining. Inevitably though, the series started to take a bit of a nose-dive. Its peak was unquestionably season 3 (by which it may as well have been renamed ‘The Ari Gold Show’), but by season 5 the quality slowly started to diminish slightly, until it just sort of withered away upon reaching its final eighth season.
So onto the movie then. Big screen adaptations of popular TV shows are a hit-and-miss affair. For every Mission: Impossible you have an Avengers (no, not the superhero one!). And unfortunately Entourage: The Movie resides firmly in the miss category, and is way out of its depth as a feature film. The main themes of the TV series have been mashed into a single thin story, and the film feels extremely shallow, and devoid of the show’s charm. The comedy on the whole is weak and seems rather forced at times. The set up sees Vincent Chase making his directorial debut for new studio head Ari Gold. Along the way we follow separate –and rather bland - story threads: Eric is juggling women, Turtle is wooing UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, Johnny Drama is still trying to establish himself as a credible actor, and Ari Gold continues on with his marriage therapy sessions.
It all sounds very ‘Entouragey’ but the execution is lazy and the delivery is clunky. The script was clearly set to autopilot - there’s only so many times you can watch bikini-clad women and listen to colourful language being thrown around before you start to realise the lack of depth. The fact that the movie features way too many cameos – many of them extremely questionable (Warren Buffet, Piers Morgan, really?) - just shows how the filmmakers seem to have lost all passion for Entourage. Simply throwing famous faces in there because, hey it’s Hollywood!, just doesn’t cut it. Entourage has stopped even pretending to be about Hollywood. Whereas the show used to satirically revolve around big deals, egomaniacal actors, and cringeworthy auditions, the movie throws all this out of the window and instead delivers a plot centred around Vince making his supposedly directorial debut. The trouble is, we never actually get to see Vince on a single set, the ‘movie’ (which looks suspiciously like a music promo) only seems to star Vincent and his brother Drama, and yet is miraculously in contention for Golden Globe and Oscar acting awards. In this respect, Entourage: The Movie has ceased to be Hollywood satire and has become full-on nonsense.
The film understandably spends its opening running time re-introducing the characters and premise for any Entourage new-comers, but then quickly slips into a juvenile been-there-done-that story that puts even the final season of the show to shame. That being said there are a couple of gems that somehow manage to shine through. Haley Joel Osment (yes, that kid from The Sixth Sense) is fun to watch as a sleazy, entitled jackass who comes to Hollywood to oversee the final stages of Vince’s film and report his notes back to his father (Billy Bob Thornton), the Texan financier of Vince’s movie. And Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold is of course a joy to watch as ever. Even though Piven doesn’t quite reach the heights of Season 2’s Ari Gold, he does his best with a weak script.
Entourage: The Movie feels like it’s trying desperately to cover all the bases and make fans happy without having any real reason to exist – Was anyone really that desperate to see Eric and Sloan attending Lamaze classes together? A definite missed opportunity to make amends for the show’s dire final season, Entourage: The Movie will struggle to impress even the most hardcore of Entourage fans. Disappointing.
Very mediocre entertainment – no appeal for Entourage newbies and far too shallow for Entourage veterans. Instantly forgettable. - do yourself a favour and watch the far superior early seasons of the TV show instead.