A hedonistic inside look at Tinsel Town through a fictional movie star and his loyal trio of hangers-on, “Entourage” had two things going for it during eight seasons on HBO: Jeremy Piven’s fierce pit bull agent Ari Gold, for which he won three Emmys, and a plethora of fun cameos and guest stars.
This pointless movie version focuses on Vincent Chase, an inexplicable A-lister (the wooden and bland Adrian Grenier is never convincing as a charismatic “It” actor), and his childhood gang from Queens. It includes his best friend Eric “E” (Kevin Connelly), now his manager; his half-brother Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon), a C-list actor who is his personal chef, trainer and bodyguard; and lazy pothead Sal “Turtle” (Jerry Ferrara), the driver and recent wealthy tequila company owner.
The whole premise hinges on Vinnie’s star appeal, and I never bought it once from 2004 to 2011, and I don’t believe it today.
These shallow boors are living a sweet life without ever earning it. People who want to be rich and famous without any proclivity for hard work or apparent talent get ahead in this La-La Land. They view a sea of women as babes to pluck and conquer. But they can’t deal with complications from wives and girlfriends.
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Creator Doug Ellin, who wrote and directed this passion project, piles on more famous faces and bikini-clad hotties, but the vacuous characters are hard-pressed to sustain a full-length feature. What was somewhat watchable as a half-hour comedy series becomes tedious on the big screen.
Unless you enjoy Neanderthal bonding, gratuitous nudity, locker room sex talk by immature arrested-development males, excessive objectification of women, and glamorizing the vapid celebrity culture.
The fantasy luxe lifestyle and wish-fulfillment appeal is what drew fans to the show, which realistically peaked during its mid-seasons (3-5), and limped to a who-cares conclusion. So now we are given a hard-sell hype to be interested in what happened six months’ later to the obnoxious posse?
Because the guys look older, that makes their misogynistic antics even more pathetic.
The fact that they reunited these bros shows as much hubris as Vinnie wanting to direct a ridiculous techno version of “Jekyll & Hyde” in which he plays a DJ with super-powers. The studio, now headed by brash Ari, green lights the vanity project but “Hyde” is over budget, and rookie director Vinnie demands more funds to fulfill his vision.
The money man is Larsen McCredle, a Texas billionaire played with elan by Billy Bob Thornton, who not only nails his performance but is one of this excruciating tale’s saving graces. His buffoonish son Travis (a terrific Haley Joel Osment — yes, the Oscar nominee from “The Sixth Sense”!) becomes the lads’ watchdog in L.A.
Yelling at a volume turned to 11, Ari is tightly wound, histrionic and an off-putting bully as a studio head, and Piven was better as the tenacious unfiltered suit who usually outwits anyone in his way in small doses, as was Dillon’s over-the-top Drama. A little goes a long way.
The cutthroat wheeling and dealing by the modern Dream Factory’s movers and shakers can be fascinating, particularly when there is a sarcastic edge to it. Loosely based on executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s inner circle and showbiz brain trust, “Entourage” is best depicting clever power plays and the savvy way strings are pulled.
Although there are flashes of smart and sharp writing, the self-aggrandizing story lacks substance and connection.
Bright spots are the real talent who dives in to play fictional versions of themselves for laughs, such as “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammar and rapper T.I.
“Entourage” wants to curry favor through its friendship camaraderie, but its narcissistic central characters grow tiresome, and the movie winds up an empty exercise in privilege gone wild.
1 star out of 4
Director: Doug Ellin
Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Rex Lee, Billy Bob Thornton, Haley Joel Osment, Emily Ratajkowski, Ronda Rousey
Rated: R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use.