Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use.
Running time: 105 minutes.
One and a half stars out of four.
The title sequence for the “Entourage” movie is undoubtedly its high point. Glossily shot and smoothly edited with Jane’s Addiction’s “Superhero” blasting in the background, it’s an expanded version of what we saw at the start of the HBO series for eight seasons, with cast and crew members’ names emblazoned across various Los Angeles landmarks. But more care has been taken this time: Costume designer Olivia Miles’ name appears in the signature, red-and-blue lettering on the ivy wall at Fred Segal, for example, while music supervisor Scott Vener’s pops up in neon lights above the front door at Amoeba Records.
It gets you pumped, and it suggests you’re in for an exhilarating, stylish ride. But then it’s all downhill from there.
“Entourage” the movie is essentially an extended version of “Entourage” the TV show. Now, if you loved “Entourage” the TV show, this is probably thrilling news. But if you never watched the show, or only watched it in pieces, or stopped watching it once Vincent Chase and his buddies became obnoxious examples of everything that’s wrong with this town, then you will surely find this exercise pointless.
Four years after the show he created went off the air, writer-director Doug Ellin returns with nothing new or worthwhile. He only offers us an amped-up version of the series which plays for a longer period of time on a much larger screen. Movie star Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his childhood pals — manager E (Kevin Connolly), driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and half-brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) — are no longer the lovable underdogs they were when they arrived in L.A. from Queens in 2004. They remain the same vapid, douchey assholes they’ve been since they became deeply entrenched in the most glamorous and superficial elements of the industry.
The larger format doesn’t necessarily mean a richer experience is in store. Far from it. These guys learn nothing, they don’t change, they have no arc and they are never truly challenged. I’m sorry, I take that back — it’s possible that Vince may not get the extra $7 million he needs to complete his $100 million directorial debut, a high-tech take on the legend of Jekyll and Hyde in which he also stars as a hot, hoodie-wearing DJ with glowing eyes.
“Hyde,” as it’s called, looks terrible, by the way, from the brief moments we get to see. But the fact that the few characters who’ve seen the whole thing declare it a masterpiece makes me wonder whether Ellin intended all of this as satire in the first place, and not just a gratuitous wallow in rich-white-dude luxury. Could Ellin possibly have more in mind besides hot chicks in bikinis, bashes on yachts in Ibiza, glittering hilltop mansions and leisurely drives around Beverly Hills in expensive convertibles? Could he be making a statement about the capriciousness of Hollywood and the perils of wretched excess? Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit.
The plot — strung together as it is between cameos from celebrities as random as Andrew Dice Clay, Jessica Alba, Warren Buffett, T.I. and Armie Hammer — begins with Vince partying it up with his pals because he’s gotten has marriage annulled after just nine days. When the phone rings, it’s Ari (Jeremy Piven), his former agent who’s now a studio head. (They never name the studio but much of “Entourage” was clearly shot on the Warner Bros. lot.) His newfound power hasn’t quelled his famous temper — Ari’s blowups actually provide the few moments of genuine humor and energy here — but it does give him the clout to give Vince his dream starring role.
Vince also insists on directing, however — something he has no idea how to do, and something we don’t even see him do here, even though there is a finished product for interested parties to salivate over. But in order for Vince to put the final touches on “Hyde,” Ari must go to a Texas billionaire investor (Billy Bob Thornton as a twangy, quirky stereotype) and beg for more money. His response is to send his no-good son, Travis (a skeevy Haley Joel Osment), to L.A. to sniff around and see if it’s worthwhile. This leads to a preposterous would-be love triangle between Vince, Travis and Emily Ratajkowski, a model-actress best known for the “Blurred Lines” video, playing a version of herself.
Her entire raison d’etre is to look gorgeous in tight dresses and make Vince feel better about himself when he’s feeling low — although Grenier’s range is so limited and the character remains so handsomely bland, it’s hard to tell when he’s feeling anything besides pleased to be here. Then again, nearly all the women in this movie are shrews, nags or half-naked ornamentation.
The supporting characters who are afforded slightly more personality get subplots which are no more compelling. E tries to juggle various hot women who want to sleep with him while tending to his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Turtle flirts awkwardly with MMA superstar Ronda Rousey and enjoys the spoils of the high-end tequila brand he developed with Mark Cuban. And Drama hopes that his four scenes in “Hyde” will finally make him a superstar himself.
There are no real stakes, though. Long before Mark Wahlberg — the original inspiration for “Entourage” — shows up with his real-life entourage to pimp out not one but two side projects, it’s clear that these Teflon bros will just continue coasting through life, enjoying being mindlessly awesome.