'Entourage' Review: Jeremy Piven and the boys are back and just as obnoxious
Having never watched an episode of the HBO series, I was surprised to find that my favorite character in the "Entourage" movie was Travis, the rich Texan blowhard portrayed by Haley Joel Osment. Travis is the film's one unlikable character who's creepy, conniving, entitled, obnoxious and a total pig.
All the other creepy, conniving, entitled, obnoxious total pigs in the movie are apparently supposed to be the heroes.
"Entourage" comes to celebrate the privileges of being white, male, wealthy and famous, not to bury them. While there's nothing wrong with creating a little vicarious wish fulfillment for people who dream of living La Vida Hollywood, it would have been nice if writer-director (and show creator) Doug Ellin had given the movie as many funny lines as there are opening credits for himself. (I counted four.)
For all its Tinseltown gloss and hot cars and swimsuit-clad female extras and name-dropping and pointless celebrity cameos — apparently the ingredients that kept the TV show on the air for eight seasons — "Entourage" is never particularly amusing, nor does it take the characters anywhere new or interesting.
"Entourage," like "Paul Blart Mall Cop 2," opens by unraveling its own previous happy endings: Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) has annulled his marriage after nine days, and Vincent's former agent Ari (Jeremy Piven) is pulling the plug on his Italian retirement and eagerly returning to Los Angeles to become a studio chief. Ari has a project that he thinks would be perfect for Vinny, who counter-offers that in addition to starring, he wants to direct.
Cut to several months later, when Vinny and his producer and best friend, E (Kevin Connolly), have gone over budget and are going back to Ari for more postproduction money, which means Ari has to go begging to studio backer and Texas gajillionaire Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) for cash. Larsen agrees only if his son Travis (Osment) can accompany Ari back to Hollywood to learn more about the picture business.
Will Vinny get the money to finish his movie? Will E stop sleeping with random women and get back together with his pregnant ex, Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui)? Will Vinny's second-banana half-brother, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), get cut out of Vinny's movie? And will their buddy Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) manage to convince UFC fighter Ronda Rousey (charming and charismatic, playing herself) that his interest in her is personal and not merely professional?
"Entourage" makes it exceedingly difficult to care about any of these dilemmas, mainly because the four leads are thoughtless clods whom we're supposed to find endearing because they're living the dream. Piven's Ari is so over-the-top in his narcissism and megalomania that he's fun to watch, but the other lead characters are the kind of bros who should be having drinks thrown in their faces on a regular basis.
Ellin has to wedge in a bunch of celebrity cameos that never amount to anything: Armie Hammer threatens Vinny at Bouchon because Vinny is dating Hammer's ex (Emily Ratajkowski as herself), for instance, but then nothing comes of it, and series executive producer Mark Wahlberg shows up with his own real-life entourage who inspired the show in the first place for a completely useless scene.
After a while, the crossover between fiction and reality gets muddled, as when Johnny Drama goes to an audition and reads for Richard Schiff and Judy Greer; it took me a while to figure out that Schiff was playing Schiff while Greer was playing a casting director and not herself, despite the fact that she's as famous as many of the male celebs in the movie who are doing winking walk-ons.
In this movie's world, women exist almost exclusively to have babies and/or make problems. Two women lie to E about STDs and pregnancy, ostensibly to teach him a lesson, but the underlying premise is that women will make stuff up to ruin your life when they're not actively ruining your life for real.
Blissfully, "Entourage" isn't nearly as long as "Sex and the City 2," and fans of the show may well enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with these cads. For someone who never watched the TV version, the movie feels like a justification of that choice.
[Later this week, TheWrap's Tim Appelo will review the film from an "Entourage"-watcher's point of view.]
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