Back To La-La Land With The Entourage
From 2004-11, HBO aired the series Entourage, which was one of the most successful original shows the network ever produced. The show about an actor who hits the big time and brings his best friends and brother with him to Hollywood goes from the small screen to the big screen in a movie that bears the same title the hit series did. The film takes place some eight months after the events at the conclusion of the series. Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) saw his marriage last just nine days. He has, however, returned to work as the director and star of a modern version of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. Vince also cast his brother, Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon) in a small role. The movie also marks the first big project as a studio executive for Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince's former agent who's now being groomed to one day succeed John Ellis (Alan Dale) as the studio chief.
Vince, though, has taken the project over budget, and wants additional funds to polish it. He meet with the film's chief financeer, Larsen McCreadle (Billy Bob Thornton), for these funds, but they come with a condition. Larsen has to leave the country on business, and insists that Ari take his son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) to the rough cut screening Vince has planned. Vince, citing projection problems, cancels the screening, but makes DVD copies for Ari and Travis. While Ari very much likes what he sees, Travis has ideas that include removing Drama's part, which Vince considers pivotal. Riding on his success in the tequila market, Sal "Turtle" Assante (Jerry Ferrara) offers to loan Vince the millions he needs to finish the project. He also tries to build a relationship with UFC fighter Ronda Rousey. Meanwhile, Vince's manager, Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), has once again split from Sloan McQuewick (Emmanuelle Chriqui), but not before he puts her in a maternal way. While Ari tries to get the money to finish Vince's movie, he keeps getting calls from his former assistant, Lloyd Lee (Rex Lee), wanting Ari to give him away as Lloyd marries his partner, former Olympian Greg Louganis.
Entourage brings back the old gang, but the film revisits the same story elements that clicked in the TV series. Some parts work better than others, since the script from Doug Ellin, who also worked on the series and directed here, didn't develop the characters in the way he had in the series. The stories with Ari, Vince, and Turtle (at times) continue to be of interest. Ari, for example, still works on not making work a complete obsession to keep his marriage to Melissa (Mrs. Ari) Gold (Perrey Reeves) on solid ground. Still, he fights the best fight he can to make Vince's vision a reality. Vince shows his growth as a performing artist, and Turtle offers a part of his wealth to Vince. The stories with Eric and Drama, though, continue to cover the same old ground the show did much better. Also, Ellin used a story line involving adapting a work of classic literature that had been used previously in the series (The work updated on the show was The Great Gatsby). The movie, at times, seems like the guy who insists on singing every verse of 99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall. I think the box office numbers will show that the last bottle has been passed with regards to this franchise.
While Grenier remains appealing as the big-time star Vince, Piven is the one who most makes Entourage watchable. Ari Gold may have changed careers, but he remains the abrasive and tough talking man who makes deals and makes sure obstacles stop being obstacles. Money is an oblstacle, but Ari's (and Vince's) biggest one is the rich know-it-all Travis, who wants to remake the remake at a greater cost that Ari needs. One of Ari's best lines comes when he calls Travis a little Forrest Gump (Osment, for those who didn't know, played Forrest Gump, Jr., in the Oscar-winning Best Picture). I also like the exchange between Ari and Kelsey Grammar outside their therapist's office. The others are fine, though I wish the movie had given them a better story. Other show regulars who return in small parts include Debi Mazar as Shauna Roberts, Constance Zimmer as Dana Gordon, Nora Dunn as Dr. Marcus, and Rhys Coiro as Billy Walsh. Many popular culture names appear, including Piers Morgan, Emily Ratajkowsji, Bob Saget, Saigon, Clay Matthews III, Russell Wilson, Andrew Dice Clay, Ed O'Neill, Warren Buffett, George Takei, Liam Neeson, and Mark Wahlberg, who's been an Entourage producer from the beginning.
The Entourage movie has good moments, but story treats some characters better than others. The movie also doesn't say much of anything new about people who learned and grew as they came to know the business of show business. It was good to see the Entourage gang again, but the end of the TV series was far more satisfying than this movie. From what I see, I am far nicer to this film than most fans of the series.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Entourage three stars. Ari made the film work for me.