When I was in college, I very briefly dated this absolutely stunning young woman. I mean, seriously. She was truly one of the most beautiful young women I'd ever seen and, much to my surprise, she was very willing to go out with this average looking paraplegic with a scoliosis hunchback and zero fashion sense.
I was way out of my league.
Then, as one might expect, one day she decided that we weren't going to go out anymore because, as she put it, "You're not comfortable around me and you're too insecure about yourself."
Ouch. She was right.
I was so awestruck by her that having a mutual relationship was never going to happen.
Entourage, both the movie and its characters, are so busy trying to be something that they're not that there's not a chance of anything real actually happening. Entourage plays like Sex and the City for Dummies, a paint-by-numbers bro-fest with all style and no substance where women, with the exception of 1-2 characters, existing only to serve the self-absorbed needs and insecurities of men while we're expected to buy into the idea that Johnny "Drama" (Kevin Dillon) can act, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara could strike it rich, Eric (Kevin Connolly) could get laid by anyone not in his family, and that Vince (Adrian Grenier) would ever be so frivolously given the keys to direct a film with a $100 million budget.
Of course, I suppose we do know that this is Hollywood and worse filmmakers have been given $100 million budgets.
The truth is that Entourage is for the people who enjoyed the series Entourage. It is, almost without exception, exactly the movie that you expect it to be. Series creator and film director Doug Ellin seems more interested in cramming in as many celebrity cameos as possible than he does in anything resembling character development, so for fleeting moments we end up seeing everyone from Warren Buffett to Liam Neeson to Mark Cuban to David Spade and on and on and on. Some of the cameos work, Liam Neeson comes to mind, while the majority are as fleeting as that relationship I had with that beautiful girl back in college.
Entourage kicks off everything by undoing at least some what unfolded as the television series started winding down - Vince's marriage to Sophia is over even more quickly than Paul Blart's ended in Mall Cop 2, while Eric has ended his relationship with Sloan (Emanuelle Chriqui), despite the fact that she's pregnant with his child. Turtle is still as rich as ever from his tequila biz, while Drama becomes an even bigger laughing stock in the movie than he was in the television series.
In fact, as was true in the series, the only truly interesting and redeeming character continues to be Ari, played by three-time Emmy winner Jeremy Piven with as much bite and gusto as ever. This time around, Ari returns from his self-imposed Italian exile to become a studio head and immediately sets out to make a name for himself with a $100 million film that he thinks is perfect for Vince and even has a juicy part for Drama. Vince, determined to expands his horizons, demands to direct.
Of course, Ari says "Yes."
The while journey would be painful to watch if not for the presence of a couple major obstacles in Ari and Vince's way, financier Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), a good ole' billionaire farmer, and his inevitably spoiled son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment). It's a beautiful thing to watch two actors who actually can act make something out of mostly nothing. Neither Thornton or Osment are given much to do here, yet the entire film gets a jolt of energy whenever they're on the screen. On the flip side, all of our key players with the exception of Piven barely register a note.
While Piven is good here, he's certainly not looking at an Oscar or an Emmy or a Tony or most likely not even an MTV Award. He's simply the best thing, by far, about a decidedly average film where cameo watching and secretly wanting Ronda Rousey to kick Turtle's ass is about as good as it gets. The question by film's end isn't whether or not Ronda and Turtle will get together or whether or not Eric and Sloan will make amends, it's more like why would Ronda and Sloan even consider it?
An insider's film for only the most devoted Entourage fan, Entourage is an awful lot like watching that sniveling little kid at school who pulls out his prized autographed photo of his favorite sports hero only to have someone bigger and better and stronger beat him up on the playground and steal the photo. This weekend? Bigger and better and stronger may very well be named Melissa McCarthy as she opens up nationwide alongside the boys with her latest comedy Spy.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic