REVIEW WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media
Starting in 2004, “Entourage” was a successful show on HBO for eight seasons. It revolved around Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), a handsome young actor. He ventures from Queens to seek success in Hollywood. He was represented by brash super-agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven).
Vincent brought along his posse from his hometown. This includes his half-brother and fellow actor, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon); best friend, Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly); and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). The series was inspired by the experiences of Mark Wahlberg, who served as an executive producer of the show and also now for the movie.
After a four year hiatus, “Entourage” is back, this time as a big screen entity. For better or worse, the gang’s all back. Now, Vince has become an A-List movie star. After a mere nine days of marriage, he’s separated from his new wife.
Meanwhile, Ari has come out of retirement to become a studio head. In his first venture as a studio exec, Ari tries to lure Vince into starring in it. Basking in his newfound status as megastar, Vince insists that he will only act in the risk-laden project on one condition. He wants to make his directorial debut with the film. Recognizing Vince’s marquee value, Ari begrudgingly capitulates.
Eight months later, the shooting has concluded. However, Vince is already $15 million over budget. He implores Ari for an extra $10 million so that he can complete post-production.
With considerable reluctance, Ari flies to Texas to meet with the film’s co-financier, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton). Larsen makes a point that he doesn’t even bother seeing the films that he finances. He dispatches his nitwit son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment), to go to Hollywood as his surrogate. Larsen tasks Travis with watching a rough cut of the film, then deciding whether or not dad should invest any more money in the project. What will Travis do with his newfound power? Can he possibly resist abusing it?
Doug Ellin created the show and served as its lead writer and director. He returns here in the same capacity. As if to compensate for the weakness of the central narrative, Ellin throws in a bunch of inane subplots. Ari’s former assistant, Lloyd (Rex Lee), is marrying his boyfriend. He wants to use Ari’s home for the wedding. The ever manipulative Ari agrees but only if Lloyd, a non-Jew, agrees to have a Jewish wedding ceremony. Then, there’s Turtle’s obsession with MMA star, Ronda Rousey. To advance his amorous agenda, he agrees to endure a beating from her. Ari still suffers from ongoing marital woes. He and his wife (Perrey Reeves) visit a couples counselor (Nora Dunn). As is his wont, in the midst of a therapy session, Ari takes a call on his cell phone. Is that enough gratuitous subplots? Apparently, Ellin didn’t think so. He adds yet another one about Eric’s ex-fiancée, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), going into labor.
The television show was notable for its parade of celebrity cameos. Why would you expect the movie version be any different? In addition to Wahlberg, you’ll see the likes of Liam Neeson, Warren Buffet, Tom Brady, Jessica Alba, Mark Cuban, Matt Lauer, Armie Hammer, Kelsey Grammer, David Arquette, Bob Saget, Piers Morgan, Gary Busey, Pharell Williams, Mike Tyson , Common, T.I. , Andrew Dice Clay, George Takei, and Martin Landau popping up. However, these myriad appearances seem singularly lifeless. They do surprisingly little to enhance the film.
As a film, “Entourage” epitomizes everything bad about the show. There’s just more of it. This is epitomized by the unabashed abrasiveness of Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold, the vapidity of the other characters, the tawdry storylines, and the demeaning depiction of women. Even if you were a huge fan of the series, there is little in this putrid film to find appealing.
The tagline for this film is, “The ride ain’t over.” After seeing this cinematic rehash of the show’s hackneyed clichés, one can only conclude that it should be.
* R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity, and some drug use) 104 minutes. Warner Brothers
Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.