Entourage has long been accused of being an all boys club, full of the crude, vulgar vitriol that most of its critics have come to associate with frat boys and the perennially immature. There is some truth to that, of course, but none of that explains the niche popularity that the series, cancelled in 2009, still enjoys. That particular explanation might lie in how eerily similar Entourage is to Sex And The City. Both shows are heavily divided along gender lines, feature a certain kind of wish fulfillment fantasy designed to pander to their respective demographics and ended their respective runs with a movie. They now share another similarity – both movies were widely panned by critics but accepted (arguably, just tolerated) by fans. In all fairness, Entourage, the film, feels just like Entourage, the series which means that fans of the series will feel the warm gush of familiarity that accompanies meeting characters you considered friends but newcomers will probably be wondering why this film wasn’t just sent straight to TV; it’s practically designed for it. As a standalone film, Entourage falls short in numerous categories – the plot doesn’t reach the heights a movie needs and time has robbed the cast of some of the chemistry that was the very backbone of the series. However, as a replacement for the series’ universally derided final season, the film shines, providing much needed closure and satisfying ends to each character’s story.
The primary problem lies in the way Entourage works. Anyone who thinks Entourage is about anything in particular is lying to themselves. Ostensibly, it is the story is about Vinny Chase and his entourage, but if you really think about it, the series thrived on showing its audience the life of excess and abandon that its stars lived. Surrounded by all the debauchery that money can buy, Entourage is perhaps best described as the Wolf of Wall Street set in Hollywood and like Wolf a big part of the pleasure of watching Entourage was judging the characters’ mind blowing excesses while desperately suppressing envy. This format worked fantastically on the small screen – each episode was a 40 minute reminder of what our lives are not – but on the big screen, director and series creator Doug Ellin has the unenviable task of creating the usual three stage story while retaining all of the bromance and eye candy that makes the series what it is. The result is a plot that doesn’t let Vinny drop to his lowest and, as a result, can’t let him bask in the well-earned glory of an absolute home run of a hit. Instead, the plot’s tension feels diluted and it’s conclusion unearned.
It isn’t just the overall plot that falls short of the mark either – the individual characters’ arcs lack bite too. There simply isn’t enough narrative space in the movie to make five different, compelling stories for the cast. Johnny Drama fans can rejoice though; Kevin Dillon’s character’s arc is the most satisfying of the bunch though perhaps more so to those familiar with Drama’s struggles. However, Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, continues to have a frustratingly easy ride of things, breezing through one obstacle after another while his best friend, Eric, is equally adept at avoiding the consequences of his actions. The biggest disappointment, perhaps unfairly, is Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold. Gold was easily one of the colourful characters in the series and the character people most commonly associate with the series. In the film, however, he seems oddly restrained and one might spend the entire movie waiting for that one explosively hilarious rant. Unfortunately, despite being dangerously close to his boiling point throughout the movie, he never actually explodes; the disappointment is akin to expecting a lion and finding a kitten.
If this film is your first exposure to the series and the characters, you might find yourself absolutely aghast and perhaps a little disgusted at just how crude these characters are. You will find yourself wondering just how any of them can be considered functioning adults or just what sick sort of society would idolise people like them and you wouldn’t be wrong. By sparing characters from having to experience any real lows, the film also deprives its audience of the show of loyalty and brotherhood that kept fans of the series returning again and again. For fans familiar with the series, the final verdict will depend on what aspect of the series was most compelling; if you loved watching Vinny and the boys tear the town up, there’s plenty of that but if you enjoyed watching them power through their various low points, then this film will feel flat and shallow.
Adrian Grenier – Vincent Chase
Kevin Connolly – Eric Murphy
Kevin Dillon – Johnny Drama
Jerry Ferrara – Turtle
Jeremy Piven – Ari Gold