Entourage is a movie of questions: will Vince’s directorial debut be a flop? Will Ari’s faith in Vince be rewarded, on his first ever film as studio head? Will E and Sloane get back together? Will Drama finally move outside of his younger brother’s shadow? Will Turtle find meaning since losing his tequila company? The biggest question of all being, did we really need an Entourage movie?
Surely even the biggest fans of the television series were happy leaving our foursome of dude bros in their contrived resolutions – even with the post-credit scene showing that Ari might not be ready to retire just yet. Having marathoned the entire series in a haze of procrastination and boredom, I can quite confidently say that I felt no desire to return to the exploits of Vinnie, E, Drama and Turtle as they try to make it in Hollywood without losing their essential bro-ism that makes them who they are.
Nevertheless, here we are, with what is essentially a 104 minute episode of Entourage. We pick up Vinnie (Adrian Grenier), just divorced after nine days of marriage and partying in Ibiza with a host of the requisite scantily clad women (at times it feels like Ellin has put a limit on the amount of screentime that can pass without an ass or boob shot). Keen to throw himself back into work, Vinnie informs Ari (Jeremy Piven) that he wants to direct his next film. Not that he wants to direct a particular project or script, just whatever his next project is. Ari delivers, and we find ourselves on the eve of the completion of Hyde, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic that has rendered its hero/anti-hero a DJ. The team needs more money to finish the film, and after declaring it a masterpiece, Ari sets out to get more dosh from the film’s hillbilly Texan financiers (led by Billy Bob Thornton). Unfortunately, one of the financiers has taken a disliking to both Vinnie and Drama (Kevin Dillon), who features in a small role in the film, and threatens to recast and reshoot the whole thing. Meanwhile, Drama is dealing with a sextape leak and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is trying to convince MMA fighter Ronda Rousey that he’s not just another dudebro. In addition to producing the film, E (Kevin Connolly) is also facing impending fatherhood with Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui), from whom he has separated, and struggles with the amount of women who want to sleep with him. It’s thrilling stuff.
The film is packed to the gills with celebrity cameos, some of which whizz by so fast you have to wonder why they bothered. Fans of the series will find everything else exactly where they left it – the gratuitous objectification of women, the slight side plots to keep all four dudes entertained, the foul-mouthed diatribes, the casual homophobia that’s acceptable because Ari really does like Lloyd, and the excessive party scenes of their too-awesome lifestyle.
The strongest, if occasional, moments for the television series were those that satirised the industry it was immersed in, with a deft self-awareness that only rarely reared its head. In amongst the glorification of living large with your bros, there was at times a self-reflexivity around the superficiality ans vacuousness of Los Angeles – a superficiality and vacuousness that was usually reflect in the plot. Here, that self-awareness becomes just another wink and nod at the audience, as the boys joke about how their lives could be adapted into a half-decent television show (get it?). The movie culminates in a trip to the Golden Globes, and a low angle shot shows our heroes and Ari strutting the red carpet, lit from behind, their silhouettes moving in slow-motion through the world they have finally made their own. It’s hard not to feel that the entire film, if not the show that preceded it, was leading up to that moment, and it is deeply unsatisfying when it arrives.
Entourage has never been kind to its female characters, but here more than ever their arcs begin and end with their sexuality and function to the male protagonists. Emily Ratakjowski appears as an object of desire and point of contention between Vinnie and his financier, Travis McCreddle (Haley Joel Osment); Sloane’s presence in the film is dependent on her pregnancy with E; Ronda may beat the shit out of Turtle in the boxing ring but she becomes a prize for his conquest, an achievement in his narrative; and even Dana Gordon, one of the few refreshingly nuanced female character and a powerful film executive in her own right, is demeaned and brought low by a passing reference to the fact that she and Ari have slept together. The negative connotations of this encounter of course do not extend to Ari. It would have been misguided to expect any more of a franchise that continued HBO’s proud tradition of sexposition, and the transfer to the big screen leaves no opportunity for boobs behind.
Watching the opening credits (produced by Doug Ellin, written by Doug Ellin, story by Doug Ellin, directed by Doug Ellin), this feels more than ever like an exercise in vanity for a showrunner who can’t quite let it go. The film banks on our continuing curiosity about the fate of our four heroes, only to reveal that absolutely nothing has changed. Perhaps now we will be satisfied to leave well enough alone.
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