Hours removed from a viewing of Entourage, it’s hard to remember any salient plot details. Doug Ellin’s film adaptation of his HBO comedy series (which ran for eight seasons from 2004 to 2011) has all the familiar elements of the original: manicured L.A. excess, celebrity cameos, some mild Hollywood mockery, and plenty of dime-store misogyny from an ensemble that feels, at this point, only dimly self-aware about it.
Specifics, however, are much harder to grasp. Much like the TV show, there are almost no dramatic stakes attached to the adventures of movie star Vincent Chase and his chucklehead band of brothers, so all a big-screen version does is help magnify how ironically un-cinematic the whole thing is.
No one would ever mistake Ellin, whose last feature film was the 1998 romantic comedy Kissing a Fool, for a bravura filmmaker, but even so, Entourage is depressingly tame from a visual perspective considering its moviemaking theme. It opens a few days after the show’s series finale—which saw Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) marry a Vanity Fair writer—with Vinnie celebrating that union’s annulment on a boat in Ibiza loaded with scantily clad models. Then, unexpectedly, he announces that for his return to cinema, he wants to star and direct. Eight months later, he’s deep in post-production on a modern update of Jekyll and Hyde called, well, Hyde, and trying to scrounge some extra funding together after blowing his budget.
Will he get the funding? Is the movie he makes good? Will various peons, including a Texan oil billionaire (Billy Bob Thornton), his pissant son (Haley Joel Osment), and a studio CEO (Alan Dale), try to stop them? It’s fair to assume that nothing can stand in Vincent Chase’s way, because Entourage is (and always has been) aspirational wish fulfillment about life in Los Angeles, laden with product placement, obnoxious party scenes, and easily accessible, consequence-free sex with nameless women for even the most putridly charmless characters.
Take Vince’s filmmaking “process,” which occurs entirely off-screen. Perhaps intentionally, the movie star has always been Entourage’s least engaging character, a blandly good-looking vegetable who glides through drama with a placid, it’ll all work out fine look on his face because things always, inevitably, work out fine for him. As a result, he’s barely in the (real) film he’s technically the star of, telling his manager-BFF, Eric (Kevin Connolly), that he needs some extra money to polish off the visual effects, and leaving E and his super-agent (turned Hollywood exec) Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) to wrangle that cash from the financiers. Vince spends most of Entourage embroiled in a casual romance with the actress/model Emily Ratajkowski, and even that takes place off-screen.
The antics are left to Eric; Ari; Vince’s brother, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon); and his former driver, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), who’s become a mansion-dwelling tequila magnate, and thus equally as boring as Vince. Dillon contributes occasional comic energy to the movie—hanger-on, has-been Johnny has some over-the-top pathos to his character—but everything else feels sapped of life. Eric inexplicably gets all of the onscreen lady action in the film, having dalliances with two women at separate parties even though his ex-fiancée, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), is heavily with child and contemplating getting back together with him. Ari, the breakout star of the show in its early seasons, is seeking to control his temper at his wife’s behest, but even if he wasn’t, Piven’s mastery of the profane freakout lost its luster years ago.
In its early seasons, Entourage the show had a gross but charming edge to it, finding the sweeter side in the connection between its legion of dolts, but the show long outstayed its welcome on HBO before becoming this undeserved cinematic event. The action consists mostly of phone calls and throwaway conversations on the freeway—not dissimilar from the show, but a lot easier to get away with in 30-minute chunks. Entourage the film runs 104 minutes and feels even longer, lacking even the star power you might have hoped a silver-screen version could afford. When Liam Neeson giving Ari the finger is your biggest cameo, you might want to go back to the drawing board.
But it’s not like there are further resources to tap. If nothing else, Entourage is true to form—an irritating boys-will-be-boys confection that lets its heroes have their silly, sexy fun before being reeled back in by one-dimensional female bastions of stability. Ari’s wife and Eric’s girlfriend may be boring scolds, but they represent the safe, dull security of middle-of-the-road life that Ellin clearly thinks his audience wants to leave behind for two hours. Yes, Vincent Chase will always get what he wants, and even though what little we see of Hyde looks like toxic waste, we’re told it’s a brilliant, acclaimed effort. These boys get to have all the fun, Ellin wants viewers to think. But if this is what fun looks like, you might be better off staying home.