About 30 percent of “Entourage,” the film, takes place in cars — fancy, fancy cars, that its stars use to go to fancy, fancy places (or no place at all). But despite the fact that people are freely talking on cell phones, talking to other passengers, or shouting at other cars nearby, there is not one car crash. You keep bracing yourself for it — even just a little fender-bender, to remind both the characters and the audience about the potential danger of distracted driving. But it never comes.
This lack of consequences made for soothing viewing, back during the HBO days. (Tina Fey wrote in her book “Bossypants” about how she’d watch the show on VOD while pumping breast milk for her first daughter.) In a world of dangerous television, where no character feels safe, there was a comfort in tuning in every week, knowing that at the end of every episode of “Entourage,” Vince, E, Drama and Turtle would still be bros, Ari would still be the most powerful man in Hollywood, and everything would be fine. Maybe an episode or two would threaten to change the status quo, temporarily split up this family — but those threats would quickly dissipate.
Because that is not the “Entourage” way. The “Entourage” way is dope parties and famous friends and girls girls girls, always so many girls, usually in bikinis. Booze and drugs and maybe the occasional career or romantic set-back, but as long as you’ve got your boys, you’re fine. Great, even. You’re a rich straight man living in the promised land. The promised land could be Spain, or Los Angeles, or the moon. Doesn’t matter. You are “Entourage.” The show. The film. The life.
The very logic of space and time has no domain when you’re living on planet “Entourage.” Basic facts, like how long it takes to fly back and forth from central Texas and return before sundown, simply do not apply. Ronda Rousey will want to see you, and whenever the plot has a weird gap will be the appropriate time to visit her. The bulk of your plot might take place over the space of three days, or two months. You won’t really be sure. But as Vinny says, “it’s all good.” He says that a lot. Because it’s always true.
If you didn’t watch the original HBO series, don’t worry. The film begins with a TV special (hosted by Piers Morgan, just one of the million celebrity cameos to come) who introduces our merry band — movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), his best friend/brother Johnny (Kevin Dillon), his best friend/manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), his best friend/driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and his high-octane former agent Ari (Jeremy Piven). The special is one of the film’s clunkier moments, but it does mean we get to see visual evidence of the boys’ early days, including (a highlight) the Mentos commercial that lead to a very young Vince getting discovered.
If you didn’t watch the original HBO series, you should know that it was just like this movie, but in episodic form. Also, why are you seeing this movie?
The first thing the film does is torpedo what at the end of the series was seen as a sign of growth for Vince — his decision to settle down with an intelligent reporter — and finds him and the boys once again living it up, Hollywood-style.
As the series often did, “Entourage” revolves around the drama surrounding the making of a film — though the stakes are slightly higher this time, as Vinny is making his directorial debut, and Ari (now a studio head) is desperate to make sure that “Hyde” goes smoothly.
It’s disappointing that there’s no real effort to make a stylistic change between the film and Vince’s magnum opus, which we see about five minutes of (and frankly makes no sense). I think the logline is “‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ but with mutants in a futuristic Los Angeles, and Vincent Chase is a DJ with magic powers.” But typing that sentence makes me feel like a crazy person.
In case it’s not clear, “Entourage” is not a great movie. Its male characters strut around, wrapped in their privilege, while the female characters are wrapped in very little clothing and no personality. All of their problems are solved with no or very little personal sacrifice required, and the film’s primary delights are found in either fleeting moments of comedy or Jeremy Piven continuing to crush the role he was born to play — pure raging id coupled with enough human decency to make him… perhaps not likable, but watchable, for sure.
However, here’s the thing — it could have been much, much worse. And the proof of that lies in the last big HBO series to transition from small to big screen: “Sex and the City.” As a series, “Sex and the City” had its broad moments, to be sure, but it was also capable of true subtlety, invoking real emotion. But as a film, somehow the idea of “bigger” translated, tragically, into a high-heeled chalkboard screech with none of the show’s wit or honesty. (And “Sex and the City 2” doubled down on that.)
“Entourage,” meanwhile, doesn’t make any effort to try something new. Beyond a very few cinematic touches, it’s a season of the show condensed into 104 minutes — even the opening credits sequence is conceptually identical to the show’s original opening. The film, even down to its extra layer of celebrity cameos (including multiple appearances by Mark Wahlberg), shows no sign of pressure to be epic or extravagant beyond its pre-established extravagances. And in the end, more of the same comes out as superior to something which is a betrayal of the original. “Entourage” has your back on that. “Entourage,” ultimately, is your bro here.
Is “Entourage” the kind of bro you want to have? Probably not. But if “Entourage” is already your bro, then consider yourself blessed.