DIR: Doug Ellin • WRI: Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss • PRO: Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, Rob Weiss • DOP: Steven Fierberg • DES: Chase Harlan • Cast: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Haley Joel Osment, Billy Bob Thornton, Ronda Rousey, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rex Lee, Emily Ratajkowski
When the idea of an Entourage movie was first mooted, it seemed like only a matter of time before it eventually came to pass. Four years have passed since the curtain came down on the popular HBO series, but despite covering plenty of ground during its eight season run, creator Doug Ellin clearly feels that the journey of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his childhood friends has not yet been completed.
Rather than looking at the principle players a few years on, the action instead picks up just nine days after the end of the final TV episode. We learn that Vincent’s marriage to a Vanity Fair journalist (an absent Alice Eve) has proven to be unsuccessful, and we also discover that his former agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), has emerged from his short-lived retirement to become the head of a major Hollywood studio.
Following the re-introduction of each major character – including Vincent’s manager Eric ‘E’ Murphy (Kevin Connolly), his half-brother Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase (Kevin Dillon) and personal driver/assistant ‘Turtle’ (Jerry Ferrara) – we then jump forward several months, as Chase attempts to apply the finishing touches to his directorial debut, ‘Hyde’.
Although an exclusive segment with Piers Morgan gives the impression that everything is going according to plan, Chase makes his third request for extra funding, which causes considerable stress for an under pressure Gold. This latest turn of events requires him to visit the studio’s main financier (a Texan billionaire played by Billy Bob Thornton), but when he returns to California along with his son – who is portrayed by former child prodigy Haley Joel Osment – it quickly becomes apparent that increasing the film’s budget won’t be easy.
When you consider how successful the Sex and the City movies were at the box office, it certainly makes sense from a monetary point of view to transfer Entourage onto the big screen. A modest budget of $27.5 million means that it will more than likely be a money-spinner for HBO and Warner Bros, but in moving away from its cable television roots, does it justify its presence in a cinema?
The fact that Entourage has opted against toning down its content for a softer rating makes it unlikely that it will reach the same income level of Sex and the City, but this will certainly placate those who are hoping to see a similarly explicit approach from Ellin for his first feature film in 17 years.
Unfortunately, the film’s big problem lies in the fact that it just feels like a succession of television episodes rolled into one. At 104 minutes, it is roughly the length of four episodes, and when you consider that the shortest seasons of Entourage still contained eight episodes (the third season stretched out to 20), the ending of the film does feel incredibly abrupt.
The sheer volume of celebrity cameos is often a distraction as well, and with several key supporting characters being pushed to the fringes, it is questionable how much they really add to the plot.
Not including Ronda Rousey and Emily Ratajkowski (who feature substantially as versions of themselves), there are a grand total of 47 guest appearances. Ranging from movie stars (Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba) to television stars (Kelsey Grammar, Richard Schiff), as well as sports personalities (Thierry Henry, Tom Brady) and musicians (Calvin Harris, T.I.), securing the participation of the rich and famous has become an all too simple task.
Producer Mark Wahlberg is also in one the act, and while the adventures of Chase and his entourage were loosely based on the Boston man’s early days in Hollywood, the characters have evolved way beyond that point since the pilot aired in 2004.
Entourage is at its best when it has the four boys from Queens, New York on screen together, but it doesn’t really work when the sub-plots are explored.
The use of Rousey and Ratajkowski as love interests, for Turtle and Vincent respectively, never materialises, and whereas similar storylines were explored in full detail on the small screen, they hit a number of speed bumps in this expanded format.
Osment has a lot of fun with his role, and there is definitely a pleasure in seeing Ari trying to establish himself in the studio business.
However, the aforementioned film-within-film does come across as strangely subdued, and you can’t help but feel that a different approach may have led to more satisfactory results. Chase’s previous movie sets have come complete with explosions and extravagant car crashes, and the absence of behind the scenes turmoil is notable.
Overall, there is probably enough material to keep the loyal followers of Entourage onside, but there will undoubtedly be an air of disappointment about the final outcome. Those who are unacquainted with the TV series will more than likely find their patience wearing thin very early on, and if sequels are to receive a greenlight (Ellin has plans to make a trilogy), they would probably be best advised to take their money elsewhere.
15A(See IFCO for details)
Entourage is released 19th June 2015