By: Addison Wylie
I don’t regret liking HBO’s Entourage even though Doug Ellin’s cinematic continuation of the hit TV series stinks.
The television show offered a sleek albeit heightened look into the politics and smooth-talkers behind Hollywood. Actor Vincent Chase was a lucrative asset to any major motion picture, and his friends witnessed this as they tagged along for the ride. Frequently vulgar and overtly macho, Entourage was amusing escapism that made filmdom look and sound cool. It was the first show in a pre-binge watching, pre-streaming world that hooked me, but I lost track of the show when the next set of DVDs were unavailable to rent at the local video store.
That was then, and this is now. Prior to the movie, I considered watching a few episodes to reacquaint myself with Vince (played by Adrian Grenier), Johnny Drama (played by Kevin Dillon), Turtle (played by Jerry Ferrara), and Vince’s childhood compadre Eric (aka. E played by Kevin Connolly). However, I assumed a movie picking up after its predecessor’s 2011 exit wouldn’t call back without some recaps. I was right – it wasn’t a problem. Whether you’re a die-hard viewer or a newbie, Ellin has, at least, made his movie accessible to anyone tuning in. The memories that are trudged back up are not too significant. This is very much a brand new adventure condensed into 100-minutes.
As a movie goer and a previous fan of this particular property, I was hoping that these characters would’ve grown since I last left them. After all, when the viewer feels like time has passed, we can better connect to the characters. That isn’t the case with Entourage, and this is what makes the movie into a disheartening, foolish experience.
Reuniting with these characters was like returning to your home town to find out that your old friends are still getting stoned and throwing rocks at trains when they’re not working part-time at the local country club. Fans who watch Entourage wanting the same ole’ thing may be shallowly pleased by how top-heavy it is, but for those who are in search of something more than watching the old gang party and trash talk may find themselves as disappointed as I was.
Another correlation between Vince’s gang and bottomed-out high school buddies: they both plead for money. Entourage sees Vince headlining and directing his own movie titled Hyde. The movie keeps running over budget, which cues E to proposition producer Ari Gold (played by Jeremy Piven) for more cash. This sends Ari up a creek when he has to explain to other investors (rich, vague Texans played by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment) why Hyde needs more financial support.
That backbone should work for Entourage, except we can’t see why Hyde would exceed its budget, or why no one has stepped in by now to take more control. No matter how slick and popular Chase is, the amount of leeway given to Hyde is hard to comprehend; especially since there are plenty of people doubting the costly production throughout. The film-within-the-film also proves to be the Midas Touch of cinema whenever someone watches it, which is even more of a stretch judging by the footage the audience actually sees. After a while, the premise stops making sense.
Ellin (who also wrote the inconceivable screenplay) formulates Thornton and Osment as swaggering hillbilly stereotypes with little intellect in their twang. This poor judgement later generates groaners when Osment travels with Gold to Los Angeles to finalize deals and ogle We Are Your Friends’ Emily Ratajkowski.
Surrounding the story is typical buffoonery one would expect from Entourage. However, these cheeky shenanigans have a meaner, chauvinistic tone than before. The returning actors may have lost their grooves, but I think this type of humour just hasn’t aged well and certainly doesn’t hold up over a longer duration. The constant fawning over “hot chicks” and celebrities is tiresome as the cast gloats, the intimate “bro moments” between the leads are so self-congratulatory to their egos that it becomes irritating, and the plethora of called-in cameos are all very annoying. The fleeting appearances have famous faces moaning obscenities, or making their pop culture presence articulately known – a condescending move towards an audience that doesn’t need any reminders.
As I watched Doug Ellin’s smug movie, I felt a sensation of growing up. I was over this type of crassness and immaturity. Much like my confusion with Hyde’s financial concerns, I was also wondering how Ellin’s fraternity-level expectations and perceptions of women (they’re either seen bathing suit clad, nude, pregnant, or talking about sex) had gotten past so many suits producing Entourage. I would like to think this decision was a meta move on the film’s part, but I don’t think the production is cunning enough to do that. I don’t think anyone working on this production would’ve even known what “meta” meant.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie