When it comes to television, no one does it better than HBO. From iconic series like Sex and the City and The Wire to current shows like Game of Thrones, the venerable network is the standard bearer. One of my favorite shows was Entourage, an HBO series produced by Mark Wahlberg, which aired from 2004-2011. The series was loosely based on Wahlberg, centering on fictional star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier, The Devil Wears Prada) and his band of brothers from Queens, NY. Although the series faltered in later seasons, I stuck with it for the duration and greatly anticipated the feature film. I enjoyed the movie and think longtime fans of the show will be pleased; however, it may not resonate as much with new viewers.
The movie begins with an effective synopsis of the main characters, with writer/director Doug Ellin picking up as if we’re tuning in for the latest episode. Vince is rebounding from a Hollywood marriage that lasted about as long as the common cold; Eric (Kevin Connolly, Secretariat) is expecting a baby with his ex Sloan, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon, Poseidon) is still carving out an existence as a B-list actor, and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara, Think Like a Man Too) has impressively amassed an empire through Avion tequila. Vince’s sharp-tongued agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) has proven to be the rainmaker we knew he’d be, and all is right with the world. Vince has always fancied himself an artist, and the trappings of fame have never made him compromise his creative integrity. To that end, he’d like to fulfill his dream of being a true auteur by directing and starring in his own film. Personally, I thought it was a stretch for the character – but in the land of Entourage Vince’s dreams are going to come true.
Problems arise when Vince’s movie needs additional financing, and Ari has difficulty securing it from the man holding the purse strings, a Texas billionaire played by Billy Bob Thornton. Ari makes it painfully clear to Vince that he’s overextended and that if the movie flops, both of them are finished in Tinseltown. When their financier’s piss-ant son (played by a pudgy Haley Joel Osment) threatens to scrap the movie, Vince and Ari must find a way to salvage it all. Meanwhile Eric awkwardly juggles a couple of women and Turtle courts MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.
Entourage has always relied heavily on the escapism factor, and that was on full tilt here. Keeping with the series, the movie was littered with cameos, from rappers to actors to athletes. The whole thing was over-the-top hedonism, but it felt good to see Vince continuing his customary lifestyle we’ve come to enjoy. It wouldn’t make sense to make a movie where Vince had fallen off, especially after his character experienced a brief professional and personal downturn in the latter seasons of the show. We’ve seen what it looks like when Vince is down and out, and I don’t think that would’ve made sense for a feature length film.
The movie put a nice neat little bow on the series, and it will be rewarding for fans. However, if you’re going into the movie “cold,” I’m not sure you’ll catch all the references, characters, and inside jokes. You won’t appreciate or fully understand the journey and you won’t be invested in the characters or the rather flimsy plot. Sure, the bawdy, gaudy lifestyle is entertaining, but I don’t think it’s worth the price of a movie ticket. In sum: it’s a must-see for Entourage fans, and a Redbox pick for everyone else. Grade: B+