Much of what’s been written surrounding this big screen adaptation of the popular television show has, quite understandably, centred on the heavily sexist leanings of its portrayal of Hollywood life. Anyone familiar with the series during its original run will be aware of these criticisms, though whether or not its more committed viewership have any real issue with this is up for debate, considering its enduring popularity.
Movie star ‘Vinnie Chase’ (Adrian Grenier) and his entourage live a boys-own fantasy in a Hollywood where women exist as objects and playthings, homosexuals are a target of derision and disgust (but it’s all in good fun because Jeremy Pivens ‘Ari Gold’ doesn’t really mean it), and racial stereotypes are fair game for exploitation. Perhaps it was too much to hope that in the years since the series went off the air, since Nuts Magazine left the shelves, and with the ideas of sexual exploitation and equality so prominent in the media, that the ‘boys’ may have become self aware; that the film may have questioned its ethics and seen the guys go through some sort of enlightenment by subverting the world it helps to maintain. Instead, we are left with the same old Entourage. Though if we can overlook these issues, as the movie does, what are we left with?
The answer is; not much. The film falls into the trap of many television adaptations in feeling like just a long, drawn-out episode, and not a particularly good one. We first meet up with Vinnie in Ibiza, where he has just separated from his wife during their honeymoon, thereby freeing him up to pursue any of the bikini-clad babes in attendance of his yacht party. A phone call from his agent, and now studio-head, Ari, results in Vinnie declaring that he also wants to direct his next film. An idea which could have resulted in a relatively interesting study of a moviestar taking on more than he can handle, struggling to be taken seriously as an artist. But this is not the film we get, as we quickly flash forward to several months later when the picture has essentially been completed without issue. The plot then follows attempts with Ari to secure some remaining funding from Texan backers (Billy-Bob Thornton and a surprisingly impressive all-grown-up Hayley-Joel Osment), while the remaining members of the gang all get their own mini-arcs; E is having a baby, Turtle wants to sleep with MMA fighter Ronda Rowsy, Drama continues to suffer embarrassments in his quest for credibility. Along the way we’re treated to a parade of parties and cameos, from series favourite Gary Busey, to Liam Neeson and Pharrell, introduced with the lines; ‘Hey everybody it’s Pharrell, maybe he’ll play for us!’.
There was always an issue of believability in Vinnie as a moviestar, he just never seemed very good. And this feeling is perhaps more advanced here as Grenier himself has not become a household name in the intervening years, so it’s hard to really buy that any of this would happen to this relatively charmless guy when you see him up on the big screen. This sense is further compounded when we’re given a glimpse of the film he’s been working on, which genuinely seems like the worst thing ever made. At which point I thought maybe we would see Vince facing a struggle, finding that it’s not all that easy, but we’re then told by Ari that it’s a ‘work of genius’ and everyone else seems to agree. The lone voice suggesting otherwise is Osments young, cocky financier, who is unwilling to release the remaining funds, but it quickly becomes clear that his problems with it are more a result of his jealousy of Vince.
Ultimately, the film plays it safe and attempts to give existing fans what they want. Which is fine in some respects, the fan-base is there and so why mess with the formula? The problem in this approach is that it fails to justify the extended running time, or to give us anything we wouldn’t have been able to see were it to have remained on the small screen. As such it may fail to please even its existing audience. While the film-makers have essentially given themselves a free pass. They’re not interested in questioning the actions of themselves or their characters, and so we’re just left with a pretty questionable way to spend a Saturday night in the cinema, one which could have equally been achieved by staying at home.
Written by Christopher J. Smith
Entourage is on wide release in UK Cinemas from Friday 19th June.