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Hell, Hell the Gang's All Here 

Warner Brothers
 104 Minutes
Rated: R
Directed by: Doug Ellin
Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven 

Entourage, the series about four ordinary guys from Queens who came to Hollywood and tried to stay ordinary among the glitz and glamor of Tinseltown, lasted eight seasons on HBO. By most critics’ account, it outlasted its welcome by about four seasons. The movie version of Entourage arrived in theaters this week. It too seems to have outlasted its welcome by about an hour.


What made Entourage successful, at least initially, was the sense that Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier), his older brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), and their pals Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) were struggling outsiders who were often befuddled by the Hollywood lifestyle. But as the series progressed and they became more successful, the dividing line between “us” and “them” vanished, and soon they were partying and living the high life just like everyone else in Hollywood. And, gradually, the number of fans of the show (which, as an HBO series, weren’t that many to begin with) dwindled to the precious few who get excited about not all that talented or interesting people living the very, very good life.


Those few will undoubtedly be ecstatic about the movie; I’m not sure about the rest of the moviegoing public, at least a fair number of whom were not fans of the show, but whose ticket buying power will be needed to make Entourage a success. At least, writer/director Doug Ellin tries not to leave non-viewers in the dark but including a faux documentary by Piers Morgan early in the film describing the main characters (and filling fans in on what’s happened to them since the TV series went off the air).


To make things simple, they’re all doing pretty much what they were doing at the end of the series. Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) has been handed the keys to the kingdom by new studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Vinnie is starring and directing in Hyde a bizarre modern-day update of the Stevenson tale that has a plum four-scene co-starring role for his brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon). Their producer Eric (Kevin Connolly) is about to become a daddy with estranged girlfriend Sloane (Emmanuelle Chiriqui) while at the same time bedding two women in one day. The fourth member of the group, now slim, now rich businessman Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is on a quest for a date with MMA star Ronda Rousey.


As far as the moviemaking is concerned, the moneyman behind production, wealthy Texas oilman Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) is concerned about the cost, so when Vinnie asks for more money to finish the movie, Larsen sends son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) to see if the movie is any good. Travis reports back that he’s got a number of problems with the production, not the least of which is the fact that he hates Johnny Drama’s work and wants him edited out of the movie. Now, Ari, who has offended just about everyone at the studio is caught between star Vinnie, who refuses to cut Johnny out, and the money.


There are two types of humor in Entourage: movie business humor and everything else. Entourage at times wickedly skewers the dog-eat-dog nature of the film industry, especially the dollars and cents aspects that often overshadow creativity. The movie makes a number of good points in that regard, usually centered around Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold, who walks a thin line between having to kiss up to both financial and artistic types and trying to run a business that actually makes a profit.


Piven gets a lot of help from Haley Joel Osment, in his first significant adult role. The bearded, somewhat pudgy Osment will be virtually unrecognizable for those who haven’t seen him since his Sixth Sense days, but he can easily be a very good supporting actor in the right types of roles as an adult. Here, he’s the proverbial spoiled brat in the adult candy store, getting to party and overindulge while at the same time being able to engage in childish fits. He’s also a great representation of the type of personality that winds up involved in the film industry thanks to his family’s money as opposed to any real artistic sense.


While Entourage is effective when it stays on target, the movie spends too little time inside the studio and too much time inside the various mansions. Instead of The Player, Part 2, it’s Lifestyles of the Newly Rich and Idiotic. In its effort to show what’s happened to the characters, the movie borrows every stale network sitcom plot out there. In addition to the plotlines mentioned earlier, we get Johnny making an embarrassing selfie sextape that winds up going viral. Of course, Ari has found his one right woman, so now he has to go to couples therapy and deal with planning the wedding of his gay assistant. You’ve seen all these storylines play out on television many, many times. The only difference is that Entourage has far more nudity and profanity and somewhat fewer laughs (I use that last comparison hesitantly because of how bad some TV sitcoms are).


Entourage’s biggest mistake is falling in love with itself and overestimating its importance. Doug Ellin realizes the show is his baby, so he wants to show off how well connected he is by shoehorning in every pointless celebrity cameo he can. Naturally, producer Mark Wahlberg shows up. So to do about fifty others, often in blink-and-you’ll-miss them shots. A few are funny (Ari meets Kelsey Grammer while going into his therapy session); most are not (Liam Neeson giving Ari the finger); some are head scratchingly awful (Gary Busey waxing philosophic twice).


The biggest head scratcher of them all is the picture Vince is working on, Hyde. The movie is terrible in the worst type of Hollywood self-indulgent vanity project sort of terrible way. The scene that’s shown has a character resembling the Emperor from the Star Wars as a disc jockey at the city’s hottest nightclub and somehow turning people into zombies. I think. In other words, it’s exactly the type of bilge you’d expect someone like Vinnie Chase to make without any responsible adult supervision. When I first saw the scene, I thought Hyde the movie would be the stone around Vinnie and the gang’s necks that drags them down in a Heaven’s Gate-type debacle. But no, it’s a “deserved” success, leading to the guys taking their bows at the Golden Globe Awards. The worst part is that Ellin apparently thinks this ending is a crowd pleaser.


Entourage will definitely please that “crowd” that stuck around for eight seasons. It’s not, however, likely to please most others. And, instead of the Golden Globes, both Hyde and Entourage are more likely to wind up at the Razzies. At least, audiences will be spared the prospects of further sequels. This gang is like the worst bunch of relatives who come for a visit, the type for whom you pretend not to be at home. Audiences will be far better off in this case staying at their homes rather than paying a visit to the guys in the theater.

Read other reviews of Entourage:


Entourage (2015) on IMDb