There is one moment in Entourage that perfectly encapsulates the movie, and the television show that inspired it.

Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) is preparing for the very first screening of his cash-strapped directorial debut, Hyde (as in Jekyll and...). It’s supposed to be a small, private affair for friends and family, but because this is Entourage it instead becomes an extravagant party filled with celebrity cameos. Vince refuses to show the movie to his agent-turned-studio-mogul Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), but when Ari shows up to the party with Travis (Haley Joel Osment), the man who will decide whether Hyde gets the extra funding it needs to finish production, he has no choice; it’s time to man-up and show his work to the world. But just when everything looks bleak, the screening gets cancelled and Vince is off the hook. When Vince relays the information to the assembled crowd, he says he has good news and bad news. The bad news: the projector broke. The crowd groans. The good news: Pharrell just showed up. Hey, it’s Pharrell! And he’s got his crazy hat! The crowd cheers.

That’s Entourage in a nutshell. Whenever things threaten to get too serious, the show (and now the film) would just trot out a celebrity cameo or two, distract the audience for a couple minutes, and then carry on as if nothing ever happened. For better or worse, the Entourage movie is an extremely faithful adaptation of the Entourage television series. All the main characters and most of the key supporting players from its eight seasons are back, along with series creator Doug Ellin (who co-wrote and directed the movie). Even though the TV show ended with its lovable bad boys making their first tentative steps toward maturity and monogamy — Vince gets engaged, his manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) finally settles down with his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and Ari decides to retire to spend more time with his family — all of that gets instantly erased before the movie’s opening credits roll. Status quo restored, Vince, Eric, Ari, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) return to their luxurious, lascivious ways with R-rated abandon. Shouldn’t these characters have grown up by now? Isn’t their schtick wearing thin?

Hey look! It’s Mark Wahlberg!

The film is set just a few months after the show’s 2011 finale, in an alternate dimension where every woman in Los Angeles over the age of 30 has been excommunicated, Logan’s Run-style. With most of the pesky wives and girlfriends swept under the rug (or shipped off to Carrousel), Los Angeles remains a bros paradise of boozy lunches, Ferraris, yachts, parties, and yacht parties. Though the story contains fewer stakes than a vampire convention, what plot there is hinges on finding the money to finish Hyde, which has gone wildly over budget, possibly because Vince spends all day chilling with his pals. (Never, not once in this film, does he do anything that resembles actual work.)

Ari made Hyde his first green light in his new job as the head of an unnamed Hollywood studio, but he can’t get Vince any more money without the approval of the film’s co-financier, a Texas billionaire played by Billy Bob Thornton. He, in turn, won’t fork over any more dough until Ari takes his dopey son Travis back to Los Angeles to show him a rough cut of the film. When he does, Travis demands drastic cuts, including excising Vince’s half-brother (but 100 percent bro to the end) Johnny Drama entirely. Will Vince, Eric, and the boys sacrifice their friendships and their convictions just to further their careers? Or will they stay strong until their problems magically sort themselves out on their own because this is Entourage and nothing bad can ever happen to these characters?

Ooh! It’s Emily Ratajkowski, playing herself, as Vince’s new girlfriend!

Although very little has changed for the men of Entourage (because change is intense and tension is not allowed in the world of Entourage) a lot of the show’s initial appeal has vanished. As originally conceived, Entourage’s dudely fantasy worked specifically because it was happening to a bunch of average joes; before he managed the world’s biggest movie star, Eric managed a Sbarro’s Pizza. But as the show progressed, Entourage doggedly refused to let its characters suffer any kind of personal or professional defeat, and as a result these guys moved further and further from the realm of relatable human beings. Eric became a hugely successful talent manager and producer who sleeps with more women than his movie star client. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) started a tequila business with Mark Cuban, and now spends his days romancing MMA superstar Ronda Rousey and chilling at his ultra-swanky bachelor pad (he’s supposedly neighbors with Steven Spielberg). At this point, the Entourage boys seem more like glamorous rock stars than schnooks from Queens. That’s a decidedly less pleasurable kind of vicarious thrills.

Also not particularly pleasurable: The fact that, like the show’s later seasons, the Entourage movie is less of a sitcom than a tepid soap opera for guys (call it an Axe Body Spray opera). For an ostensible comedy, there aren’t many actual jokes, and the funniest one in the movie doesn’t appear to be intentional; namely that Hyde looks unbearably awful, but everyone onscreen keeps insisting it’s brilliant. The only guy who realizes it’s terrible is Travis, but he’s supposedly a bitter redneck moron who envies Vince’s success and good looks (poor Haley Joel Osment). In that regard, the film’s final scene is its ultimate unfunny punchline.

Will you like Entourage? That depends. Did you like Entourage on television but wish there were more graphic sex scenes that involved Kevin Connolly? Then, yes, you will like Entourage. Do you prefer movies that are even the slightest bit cinematic and feature characters that evolve and feel and do dramatic things and aren’t just conveyances for guest stars, frat boy put-downs, and Cadillac product placement? Then, no, you will not like Entourage.

As a mild fan of the show (at least in its early years), I wasn’t bored, but I did find myself wishing they’d put forth at least a little effort to make an actual movie. Basically, this is just Entourage: Season 9, but you have to pay $15 and bingewatch it in a movie theater instead of checking it out for for free on your iPad with your dad’s HBO Go password. Why make a movie instead of just another season of television? Is this just a shameless cash-grab?

Whoa, is that Liam Neeson? Wait, was I saying something? Eh, it’ll come back to me.


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