Back in 2004, Entourage seemed particularly fresh. Kim K’s sex tape was only a year old then, and the burgeoning spirit of being famous for being famous was just getting started. The show was a vicarious, at times thrilling and (yes) effective look at the fictional life of Vincent Chase, based partially on the real life escapades of the show’s producer Mark Wahlberg.
The show, at its core, is a bromance, encapsulating the ups and downs of a group of guys that have seen each other through thick and thin. Through eight seasons Vincent dated many pretty girls, had his share of success and failure, had drama with E and took E with Drama. Turtle, well, he lost a bunch of weight, and his nickname felt as archaic as the show became, one trying to stay relevant as excess after excess piled up.
The finale of the final season saw everything tied up in a way completely not in keeping with the best moments of the show – everything’s resolved, with Drama getting a hit show, E finally hooking up (again…) with his now pregger partner Sloan, Turtle hits it big thanks to Vince’s largesse, and V, well, he’s found the one in the form of a hot, smart, hard to get reporter who he manages to convince to fly to Paris to wed on next to no notice.
So, we were good. It was a fun ride in that open top car, and the boys did their thing.
So, why, then, are they at it again in movie form?
This is a question that you’ll ask yourself throughout the film. It’s kind of like a mantra that builds up, similar to the chanting Ari does halfway through. Why? Whyyyyyyy? Why do the eight season, only to have it all essentially erased by the first five minutes or so of this film (hanging with the ladies in Ibiza some 9 days after the wedding doesn’t really live up to a full season of trying to make Vince not look like a flake). Why have Sloan again fall out with E in yet another echo of a storyline that was repeated over and over (and over) throughout the run.
Drama’s again screwed with a cancellation, but he needs just one more bump and he’ll get there, right? And Vince, well, everyone’s got his back, so he’s got theirs. What’s not to love?
Well, for one, it doesn’t for a minute feel like a film. It’s a tough call, moving from small to big screen, and for all the talk about the golden age of television, some of these stories just aren’t fit for the large canvas and 90 minute running time. Piven’s probably the only one there with chops enough to pull it off, his character bigger than any television set, but even he is sidelined into an awkward tete-a-tete with (of all people) Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment. These two three-named investors become the ostensive bad guys, the central conflict being whether Ari is too close to his dear Mentos-boy Chase, providing a pull between investor and studio head that culminates in a showdown.
Now, the stakes of this are pretty damn silly, especially in a land where helicopters are flown for dramatic effect, and even the star and his driver offer to put up the missing booty to cover overages. We’re told Vince has made a masterpiece, yet the clips we’re shown make it look like a sordid music video, hardly the stuff for season execs to be weeping over.
Yet in the grand fantasy of Entourage, none of this matters. We’re worried about the guy, and the boobs, and the cameos. We see the 2014 Superbowl champ Russel Wilson being a righteous QB, yet a credited Tom Brady wasn’t so easily spotted. Music video stars, actors, celebrities, even Kelsey Grammer make the occasional awkward entrance, making it all feel yet again like the glitterati version of the Small World ride.
In the end we get a wedding that was promised from the series finale, just not the one that was alluded to. We get everyone pretty much back to where we left it at the end of the show’s run, making the film feel even more gratuitous and redundant.
Entourage simply cannot sustain its storyline or its characters within a cinematic framework, especially given the almost laughable way they tried to untidy things only to have them swept up in nearly the same piles. At best you can think of this as an epilogue to the show, a “very special episode” where we get to spend some time with characters you’ve grown to know over a decade. At worst this is an indulgent, obnoxious, at times ridiculous attempt to graft this storyline into a semblance of a feature film, all while reminding us that even as a show the thing had run out of steam.
The boys of Entourage are back, yes, but it strains credulity to even try and care. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s one that the show danced around for much of it’s run – sometimes, perhaps, it’s best to quit while you’re ahead.
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