Thursday, May 21, 2015

'Entourage' review

Entourage begins with a party scene set on a multimillionaire's yacht. As Vincent Chase's (Adrien Grenier) friends zoom over to the party on their speedboat to meet Vince, we see a bunch of rich movie stars walk around in fancy clothes, eating ridiculous foods and talking about their sex lives as they party around some of the hottest supermodels on the planet. All of this before the opening credits. If this scene doesn't perfectly describe this movie, I don't know what does. From the first couple of scenes, you should know whether or not you'll enjoy this film. Entourage is a flashy look at both the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle (fast cars, nice homes, gorgeous women) and the behind-the-scenes deals that must go down to get films made. And for a 104 minute film, Entourage packs in a ton of stuff. The party scenes are fun, the dialogue is sharp and biting and the filmmakers and actors have a deep respect for the characters. It's just unfortunate that the movie runs out of steam pretty quickly.


Entourage is based off of the popular HBO TV show and it once again takes a look at the lives of movie star Vincent Chase, his agent (now studio executive) Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) and his group of cronies (Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrera) who surround him. This time, the boys are making Ari's first blockbuster picture, but everything threatens to go off the rails when the movie goes over budget. To get more money for the production, Ari has to go and deal with his difficult Texan financier (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son (Haley Joel Osment). Meanwhile, E (Connolly) is dealing with multiple pregnancies, Turtle (Ferrera) is courting Ronda Rousey, Vince is dealing with his relationship with Emily Ratajkowski and directing his first major film for Ari, and Drama (Dillon) is coping with his stagnant career and a leaked sex tape. It's all light Hollywood fun, accompanied by fast cars, LA icons and an absurd amount of celebrity cameos.

Even though watching the TV show version of Entourage has been on my to-do list forever, I've never gotten around to it. And even though I didn't love this movie, I still would love to watch the show. The characters are appealing, the writing is good and of course, I love the backstage Hollywood setting. And as a continuation of the show, Entourage will probably work for most hardcore fans. It's just that, as a movie, Entourage struggles at times. For me, it played out like a bro version of Pitch Perfect 2- lots of funny moments, sharp dialogue and a deep respect for the characters, but a scattershot narrative that results in a ridiculous amount of extra subplots. It's an entertaining, but slightly tiresome film that had me checking my watch with around 30 minutes left in the movie. Not a good sign.

After the aforementioned opening scene on the yacht, Entourage goes through its electric opening credit scene that features just about every famous LA tourist site and then moves onto an interview with Piers Morgan. The interview is a good way to start the film and the yacht scene gives the movie an early sense of tone and style. But as for the characters and the dialogue, Entourage takes quite a while to get going. A lot of the early scenes feel a bit stilted and the banter isn't as razor-sharp as it should be. For a movie that thrives on its quick exchanges between characters, Entourage feels exceptionally dull and tame in its opening moments.

Around the time that I started to get a feel for where this movie was headed, I started to enjoy it more. The different plotlines start to develop, the party scene that occupies much of the middle section of the film is fantastic and the script starts to move at a faster, funnier pace. After all, who doesn't love seeing Rob Gronkowski shotgun beers and shout f-bombs while partying with Russell Wilson and Ari Gold. For a while, Entourage is quite good and I was having a really great time.

But then the movie keeps going. And going. And going. Entourage takes the strategy of throwing everything at the screen in the hopes that some stuff will stick, and some of it does. Unfortunately, it's just trying to balance too much. E's relationship drama is funny for one scene, but uneven throughout, while Turtle's fling with MMA fighter Ronda Rousey results in some laughs, yet it keeps going even as the movie is trying to wrap up and it gets annoying. Drama's sex tape is a late addition to the plot that felt like forced raunchiness and Vince's tabloid romance with Emily Ratajkowski does nothing but service a specific plot point. It's just way too much for one film to handle and it results in the movie running out of energy pretty quickly.

In truth, it's always Ari who brings the film back together. Ari is by far the most compelling character in the film, always ranting and raving, shouting an incessant amount of profanity at his co-workers and dealing with some crazy financiers. Piven is a true scene-stealer, spouting off as much as he can and having a lot of fun with the role. As for the other four principle stars, they're great together, but less so when they're on their own. Grenier, Connolly, Dillon and Ferrera have fantastic chemistry together, but when Connolly or Ferrera are doing scenes on their own- not so great.

In addition to the main crew of guys, Entourage also features more bit parts for major actors and celebrity cameos than you can count. Haley Joel Osment gets the funniest and meatiest role out of all the actors, getting the chance to portray an immature Texan kid overwhelmed by the celebrity lifestyle. Billy Bob Thornton works well too, while Ronda Rousey and Emily Ratajkowski are serviceable in their love interest roles. Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Ed O'Neil, Tom Brady, Armie Hammer, David Spade, George Takei, Pharrell and even more actors also appear in the film.

Although the screenplay by Doug Ellin is sprawling and messy, it's ultimately what brings this film together. Despite the fact that it drags on for at least 30 minutes longer than it should, the film is consistently funny and there's always something going on. Ellin does a good job of directing the film as well, but it's staged much like a sitcom and it feels like watching a prolonged episode of a network show, just with more sex and profanity.

It's far from a masterpiece and we'll see much better movies this summer, but for a nice summer diversion, Entourage is a solid choice. It's a big, fun, summer-y film and it features some very funny moments, great dialogue and an electric vibe. It's too bad that the film is so messy and scattered, but in the end, fans of the show won't really care. Entourage delivers everything you could possibly want from a movie like this, and despite its pretty major flaws, I had a good time. If there's more Entourage in our future like producer Mark Wahlberg has promised, I'll gladly be on board.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B-                                             (6.6/10)


Image Credits: YouTube, YouTube, High Snobiety, Movie Fone, Screen Rant

4 comments:

  1. I thought the movie was just okay. I did like a handful of the cameos. My two favorites were TI’s and Armie’s.

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  2. Ronald H. Witt this movie sucked. It took the worst elements of the series such as greed, sloth, and entitlement and amplified them.

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