One of the great things about the television show Entourage was that it was only 30 minutes. Jeremy Piven could look like a young Pacino in a handful of scenes opposite a number of actors who’s biggest credits until that point had been as either second fiddle to a TV star (Drive Me Crazy) or as the villain in a Rocky sequel everyone actively forgets existed. And since then none of the five has really captured the sort of success that HBO’s half hour ode to the fantasy life of a movie star provided.
Piven has arguably had the biggest success since … but his biggest role since Entourage is on the best show that Americans aren’t watching in Mr. Selfridge. He’s stuck in a similar spot after Entourage as he was during the show. He’s the equivalent to a really good role player on a championship sports team. Jeremy Piven will never anchor the best film of a given year, or an Oscar winning one, but he can be a solid to major contributor on one. The same could be said of the rest of the cast; the show somehow managed to work with a number of parts that otherwise wouldn’t have worked on nearly any show.
It never hit heights of quality or greatness, though … it was just slick enough, and short enough, to leave you moderately entertained on a Sunday night. The show was never a star maker and one never imagined when the show went off the air that anyone from the cast would grow bigger than the show itself. It was the same with Sex and the City, which was the female equivalent to Entourage, as none of the women from that cast wound up becoming bigger stars than they were on the show.
Thus it’s not surprising that all five wound wind up reprising their roles in a film version of the show. Much like the three young women (and their mother) who took over New York City, and inspired a generation of women to go to a major city to have their own Carrie Bradshaw experience, the four lads from New York City who went out west (and their agent) to take over Hollywood now have their own film. And proving that film-making ineptness is universal Doug Ellin has crafted an equally terrible equivalent to the Sex and the City film with the film adaptation of Entourage.
We pick up several weeks after the end of the show. Vince’s marriage to a reporter (Alice Eve) died as quickly as it began, dissolving in two weeks, and now he and his friend (Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly) rejoin him in Spain on a boat full of impossibly attractive women partying. Ari Gold (Piven) has accepted a role as head of Warner Bros. after his retirement from the world of representation ended with him leaving to focus on his family. Combining their talents, Gold offers Vince an opportunity to headline a film. Chase wants to direct it, as well, and when we rejoin them nearly a year later we’re back into a comfortable groove.
When we find them not much has changed. Turtle (Ferrara) is apparently some sort of tequila magnate now … but still functions as Vinny’s driver. Apparently being a millionaire many times over leaves one wanting to still drive their friends around. Drama (Dillon) has had his animated show cancelled and is now auditioning for parts that are demeaning. Eric (Connolly) is managing life as a single guy while Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), now his ex-girlfriend, is very pregnant with their child. And now Hyde, Chase’s $100 million summer blockbuster, is in jeopardy of becoming a major money losing fiasco.
The film is over budget and if it fails everyone is going to be ruined if they can’t get the funds to finish it.
A Texas financier (Billy Bob Thornton) and his nitwit son (Haley Joel Osment) want to make drastic changes to the film in order to provide the finishing touches (and money) on the film. Throw in a nearly unmanageable amount of celebrity cameos, a fantasy version of Hollywood and the nature of celebrity and Entourage comes down to the same plot nearly every season of the show did. If they can’t find a way to (x) then Vince, Ari and everyone else is going to be ruined and wind up back in NYC, living at home with their parents.
The film is a near two hour version of the show and is trying to do two things: maintain the spirit of the show’s fairly innocuous run and move the story forward in a logical progression. Unfortunately the minor sins of the show become major ones on the big screen because of the necessary running time.
It’s easy to overlook the cardboard nature of the characters and the overall story arc of the season when it’s digestible in 30 minute doses. It’s disposable entertainment, nothing more, as Entourage wasn’t that far off from being able to be on network television. It had the allure of being on HBO but it wasn’t markedly racier than something you’d see on cable these days. The key to the show was that it never overstayed his welcome while on the screen. It may have lasted longer than it should’ve, season wise, but it never made you look at your watch and wonder “How much more of this is there?”
The movie does precisely that, making you wonder how much longer it can go.
There were so many different paths the film could’ve taken after the show ended. The show left us in a very interesting place; there were so many directions it could’ve taken that the film just nips in the bud to bring us back to the familiar. We could’ve had Vincent Chase balancing the demands on fame with the demands of his marriage. We could’ve seen Drama go from being the older untalented brother to someone with a niche career. Turtle balancing out being a success and a burgeoning entrepreneur, instead of relying on the charity of others, was a potentially interesting point. Even Eric balancing out the demands of being a father and husband against wanting to be a good friend (and manager) was an interesting way to go.
Instead we just got another season of the show, condensed into a two hour run time, where everything that could’ve been interesting to explore was jettisoned to bring us more of the familiar. We had seen eight seasons of this and all the things that could’ve happened with what was a proper send off are eliminated to bring us more of the same.
Writer / Director: Doug Ellin
Notable Cast: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Billy Bob Thornton, Haley Joel Osment, Ronda Rousey