If you read the title of this review and instantly heard Perry Ferrell’s voice singing those words, then Entourage is the movie for you. Jane’s Addiction’s theme song for the HBO show-turned theatrical film is as much a part of show’s draw as Ari (Jeremy Piven) yelling at Lloyd (Rex Lee), Drama (Kevin Dillon) screwing up his next big chance, E (Kevin Connolly) finding happiness, lowly Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) ascending to great heights, and Vince (Adrian Grenier) inexplicably getting laid by just about every attractive girl in Hollywood. And the film, written and directed by series creator Doug Ellin, continues that trend, song and all.
I really enjoyed the HBO show that ran from 2004 to 2011. Even after the series finale, which I still call the absolute worst series finale I have ever watched, I am still a fan of the show. Because of this, I’m not sure that the film will resonate with viewers who are not familiar with the dynamics of the characters. Sure, Ellin’s script has a stand alone story, but the actors playing the roles are so steeped in who they were from the series that their motivations may not crossover as much as Warner Bros. hopes.
Entourage opens by eradicating the events in the asinine series finale. It’s a very quick character re-introduction to all the major players, then we flash forward eight months. Vince’s marriage lasted a whopping nine days, and is getting back to work a new film called “Hyde,” and this time, he’s also the director. Eric and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) are pregnant, but aren’t together due to an event that happened on the show, Turtle is now stinking rich, but keeps his finances on the down-low, and Drama is banking his career hopes on his role in Vince’s new movie. When Vince needs more money to finish the film, he goes to the studio head — Ari Gold, his old agent — who then goes to the money man in Texas (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment), to get the additional funds.
The money man will only release more funds if Ari takes Travis back to Hollywood to watch a cut of the film that Vince is premiering that night in a screener for most of his friends. This is a golden opportunity for guest stars from the show — usually playing themselves — to pop in, including Bob Saget, Russell Wilson, and many, many more. And even Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro), one of the best characters in the show’s original run makes an appearance. Of course, Travis falls for super model Emily Ratajkowski (playing herself), who is also dating Vince, and his jealously could sink the entire film, or worse.
In classic Entourage fashion, the tension in the story comes from the machinations of real Hollywood. Deals are made, careers are jeopardized, and the guest stars just keep coming, including odd, yet funny turns from Chad Lowe, rapper T.I., Mark Wahlberg, (who also produces), and a single shot of Tom Brady watching a leaked sex video. UFC powerhouse Ronda Rousey even has a role as a possible love interest for Turtle.
Entourage was really one of the first times that normal people got to see behind the curtain of “Young Hollywood.” The rampant partying, drugs, sex, fast, expensive cars and beachside mansions, all in the hands of twenty-something “kids” who have no idea what to do with the fame and success that has suddenly been thrust on them. It was funny, a fresh and compelling back in 2004, and never wore out its welcome, even though the show lost a step around the same time that Jerry Ferrara lost his weight.
Entourage was always the “guys version of Sex in the City.” And it worked. It blazed a trail. Before TMZ and the other tabloid websites made a career out of it, Entourage was the best glimpse of this world many of us will never see, never take part in. And surprisingly, even with TMZ broadcast daily in syndication, seeing it play out here, with these characters, it just felt right. It felt like it used to. This is classic Entourage. And I guess that is the biggest compliment to the film. It successfully erases that awful finale and creates a true send off of these characters — love them or hate them — and fans of the show will be pleased at the results.
Entourage is rated R and is in theaters now.
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