Entourage hasn’t changed much in the four years since the season finale, but I have. I was actually changing through the series. During the eight seasons, I got married and divorced, plus a normal seven years of growing up, but Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his entourage still objectified women and spent money extravagantly. A sitcom can repeat the formula indefinitely, but when it’s formatted as a serialized continuing story and the characters learn nothing from their experiences, that becomes frustrating.
So the Entourage movie may be perfect for people seeing it for the first time. Or maybe the formula that became endearing year after year will seem off-putting as a major motion picture. Vince still has no arc. He doesn’t have to do anything. The whole movie happens around him, just like the show always did. E (Kevin Connolly) and Ari (Jeremy Piven) just have to convince everyone how great Vince is. Again.
Some things don’t translate as well to the movie format. 100 straight minutes of talking about p***y and f***ing just seems indecent. Especially when it’s Drama (Kevin Dillon) saying it. Not a dig on Dillon himself, but it makes an otherwise endearing character seem like a dirty old man. At one point it almost seems like there will actually be consequences from some of the women in their life, but then they undercut that too. Likewise, when Ari explodes into rage it’s played as triumphant, or at least the audience cheers it, but that’s really cheering for the regression of serious issues. I wouldn’t normally overreact but since Piven even talks about how stressful it is to perform Ari, there must be a more sensitive way to play this joke after 11 years.
Writer/director Doug Ellin doesn’t seem to take advantage of the time afforded him to develop a plot since he scripts the film just like an episode of the series. Characters tell Ari and Vince how nervous they seem. This isn’t a 22 minute episode. You have time to show them being nervous. The whole plot around the movie-within-the-movie Vince directed is also based on speculating what a disaster it might be. Why not show us some funny complications that happen on the set? The one scene from the fake movie they actually shot looks really good, but then it’s more Ari and studio execs talking about it. Drama’s latest humiliation is really just a repeat of something that was much funnier on the show. You also notice other little shortcuts, like we don’t actually see Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Drama (Kevin Dillon) make a U-turn, because that would require closing a major street and doing a stunt. So it’s implied with editing.
There is an odd mix of real and fake movie references. This is a world in which Chase’s Aquaman movie and The Avengers both exist, yet one in which The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 comes out May 4. No Hunger Games movie was ever scheduled in May, and the date for Mockingjay Part 2 was set well before this movie was in production. It may seem nitpicky, but this is a film and series that trades on celebrity cameos and an entire episode devoted to topping the very real opening weekend gross of the original Spider-Man. Attention to detail pays off, and lack of attention shows. It’s funny when Mark Wahlberg is a few sequels ahead of his real life franchises, but that is the joke. A release date is not a punchline, it’s just inaccurate.
Mostly the references just seem old, because they shot this over a year ago. The show would shoot months before airing too but it didn’t seem glaring back then. There’s also a lot more explaining the references. When they see Ronda Rousey, they say, “That’s Ronda Rousey, the fighter” in case general audiences don’t follow UFC. On HBO they didn’t care who got the cameo. They were just there. Hell, that show was how I learned who Mark Cuban is! I Googled him.
The new title sequence is fun, including a lot of Hollywood locations that have only been built since the show’s opening title sequence was created in 2004. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) has a nice subplot about confusion between business and romantic relationships. That’s a real, relevant story that is only less than 1/4 of the movie with all the characters to service.
It’s not even like 4 episodes of the TV series. The Entourage movie is one episode stretched out longer. They would’ve only done one episode about the financiers meddling with Vince’s movie and then everything would work out (it’s still Entourage) and something else would happen next week. Right now there is no next week. There’s not even necessarily a hiatus until the sequel. That leaves the Entourage movie feeling very unsatisfying.
Rating: Wait for Cable