After four years off the air, Entourage has inexplicably made its way back to our screens – but not the ones in our homes. No, no, no; Vince, E, Drama, Turtle and Ari have levelled up, bringing their loveable-douchebag demeanour to cinemas in something approaching an inward-looking commentary on their show’s end and fiery cinematic rebirth. But has too much time passed for us to care? Are there enough fans who are still interested? The movie provides answers to these questions – it just depends on who you are.
We catch up with Vince (Adrian Grenier) on his luxury boat, where he’s surrounded by beautiful women. (So far, little empathy.) His ex-agent / new producer, Ari (Jeremy Piven) informs him of a new acting offer – but Vince wants to get out of his creative rut; he wants to direct. (Even further in, even less empathy.) Vince and his close-knit group of friends – his entourage – embark on a quest to finally reach superstardom (because regular stardom isn’t enough) and as guest appearances follow more guest appearances, the boys’ personal lives are threatened to be entirely upheaved by a movie that’s starting to cost too much, too fast. It’s easy to go into Entourage with an in-built distaste of the lifestyle, the ego, and the shallowness that the LA scene gestates whether you’ve seen the TV series or not, and the film’s trailers made no lie that it would only ever go skin-deep. Entourage plays like a feather balanced upon a helium balloon atop a fluffy cloud; all of them nice things, but ultimately empty.
Its lightness extends to its narrative, too: subplots fizzle to the surface before popping back into nothingness, which is always a pitfall for such celebrity-endorsed productions like this. The glitz, the glamour and the stars are all part of what drew viewers to the show in the first place, but on the big screen, it feels misplaced at the best of times, and at the worst, entirely unnecessary. The movie’s one hour and forty-four minutes long – bulky for a comedy – but when you strip it of its cameos and other warrantless noise, there’s worryingly little left to get your teeth into, especially when it comes to (those old chestnuts) character development and story.
However, because Entourage basically acts like a spaghetti-throwing machine firing on all cylinders, some stuff actually sticks. By far the best thing about it is Jeremy Piven as Ari, a nervous fuse ready to explode at any moment but with a beating heart beneath a yelping studio mouth. Even though he’s an exec who we should boo and hiss at like some kind of pantomime character, he’s a real, three-dimensional concoction of fears and desires which drives the movie along. He won the Golden Globe for his performance in the TV show, and that translates beautifully here; he simply wants Vince’s movie to be good, and we feel that too. Elsewhere, there’s a sugar high to be enjoyed from the movie’s overall rush of Hollywood snazziness, one that’s sure to fade quickly with time but is innocuously enjoyable in the short-term.
But, as with all depictions of this kind of lifestyle, there’s yet another disconnect between the filmmakers’ view of how women are treated in it, and how those filmmakers actually depict the women – and it rarely comes off in their favour, as is the case here. Sure, the argument could be made that this is ultimately a picture about bromance; and yet, the male gaze still woozily dominates each frame. But the women in the movie do frequently make fools of the guys – so there’s that – but it’s not enough to stop them from being little more than tools for the men to develop their own characters. It also doesn’t help that the film’s lead, Grenier, bears almost zero charisma as Vince, and the film suffers badly for it – which is quite interesting to note, as one of the main plots of Entourage is that Vince is threatened from being pulled from his own film for being no good.
Entourage was never going to be The Player – but you knew that already. What we do have is a rather rote in-joke that might be pleasant for fans of the show to rock up to, but somewhat of a lost cause for the rest of us. And yet it bounces merrily along, with little consequence – and that ride is, somewhat embarrassingly, a kinda enjoyable one.