Entourage: The Big Screen Brodown

(USA, 104 min.)
Dir. Doug Ellin, Writ. Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss
Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven
Entourage throws the party of the week and everyone’s invited. This continuation of the popular HBO series carries on where the show left off after eight seasons. Entourage fans are bound to love it, since the film is basically a special double-episode that offers more of the same. It’s a belated series finale, or epilogue, rather, that looks at where Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his crew stand after the credits rolled over on HBO. Moviegoers who aren’t familiar with the show, however, aren’t going to have as good of a time: Entourage is akin to watching any two random consecutive episodes of a series without any prior knowledge of what happens beforehand. The experience is a lot like going to a roaring party where one doesn’t know anyone. It has its moments, but it tires quickly.

Entourage certainly has its laughs, though, as this movie of the show that’s essentially Sex and the City for guys offers a big screen brodown that satirizes Hollywood and the high life. This episode of Entourage sees Vince decide to reignite his career and sidestep that scandal of a recent divorce by demanding that he direct his next film. That film, of course, is a mega-budget tent-pole production beyond the means of any inexperienced upstart, and his debacle to finish the film reunites him with his agent-turned-studio-head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). It’s up to Ari to save Vince’s career as he’s presumable done in the past.

Piven is easily the top reason to see the film, much like he is with the series. Ari’s loud, obnoxious, self-serving mojo hits the mark every time thanks to the gusto of Piven’s performance. Characters like these are often why TV-to-film transitions work, since they give viewers exactly what they want and expect from either formula. He’s a hoot.

The other guys in the Entourage gang are a mixed posse. Eric (Kevin Connolly) faces the consequences of being a hounddog while Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) faces the consequences of jacking off at Vince’s pool. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) provides some amiable filler, and the guys drive around, scope out chicks, drink, eat salad, and party it up. There’s a movie somewhere in here.

Said movie can somewhat be found in the storyline in which Vince, Ari, and the motley crew negotiate with a hillbilly rich kid named Travis (Haley Joel Osment), the son of the film’s financier (Billy Bob Thornton). Travis thinks the film stinks, especially for Drama’s performance, but Ari and Vince know that Drama’s been seeing the Oscar ever since the project got the green light, so they fight to save both the film and the fraternal bond of the entourage.

Director Doug Ellin, creator of the show, directs Entourage slickly and competently, but it looks and plays like a high-end television show projected onto the big screen. It’s stylish, serviceable, and a strike against the film’s existence. Compared to the first Sex and the City movie, which opened up the show both in terms of scope and style, Entourage doesn’t bring enough to the table for the average moviegoer who hasn’t followed the gang for years. Travis, though, would probably love it.

Members of the audience who aren’t previous Entourage fans might also be uncomfortable with the shaky line that the film walks between smart satire and silly sexism. There are ample booties and boobies on display, bonuses for the film edition, that frequently counteract the lessons the guys learn about respecting the women in their lives. The film degrades and objectifies women (if consciously so) and the jokes on the arrogance and sense of entitlement that comes along with being a baller misfire more often than they hit the mark.

The jokes that do hit, however, are often hilarious jabs at the excess and lunacy of Hollywood. This excess comes best in the near-assaultive blast of celebrity cameos that sparkle through the film like pieces of bling. Gags with Liam Neeson (ever the sport) and Kelsey Grammar are the funniest, while others are impressive gets of a friend-of-a-friend who wants to join the party. The cameos are glitter, so all Entourage needs is a better story to serve some Christal. The cameos are also filler, a smokescreen for the fact that Entourage isn’t a film, but a party.

Rating: ★★½ (out of ★★★★★)

Entourage opens in theatres on June 3rd.