ENTOURAGE (2015)

4

Director: Doug Ellin; Screenwriter: Doug Ellin; Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Haley Joel Osment, Constance Zimmer, Emmanuelle Chrique, Billy Bob Thorton; Running time: 104 minutes; Certification: 15 }

HBO’s Entourage, a show about the glitz, glamour and dark underbelly of Hollywood, half inspired by co-developer Mark Wahlberg’s real early life in tinsel town, is something of an acquired taste.  Therefore I should really preface this by saying how big of a fan I am.  It would be deceptive not to.  And by big, I mean massive. If fans were movie stars, I’d be Vincent Chase. Perhaps (okay, undoubtedly) that’s the reason I enjoyed this film so much; certainly, any film based off a TV show will be primarily aimed at an existing fan base.  While the film arguably has enough humour and lunacy to entertain every set of envious eyes, the truth of that can’t be denied.  This is aimed an existing fan base who already know and love the characters, who have been desperate to see more ever since season 8 came to an untimely end.  In that sense, bias is the foundation of this review.  Just as it likely is for the plethora of hate-filled scrawls occupying most critic corners.

Given the film takes place in the relatively immediate aftermath of the show, to provide a synopsis is to sort of spoil the ending. So in the vaguest possible nutshell, Entourage“The Movie” finds megastar Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) directing his first film, “Hyde” with the help of agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), the new head of a massive studio, via funding from a Texan millionaire and his eccentric son. In a diverting attempt to not leave newcomers entirely in the dark, we open with a brief exposé of who everyone is and what they’ve been up to. Unfathomably, it chooses to do this via the Piers Morgan show.  If there was one celebrity to whom they could give more than a walk-on cameo, why did it have to be him?

Yet once we’re past that, what a riot. An absolute cacophony of ludicrous, offensive, rambunctious fun, in keeping with the show episode by episode. And that’s where it works – it basically just plays out as an elongated episode rather than an overstuffed, overzealous attempt at bringing more to the table that needs be. Retaining the same tone and dramatic structure (whereby Vince, Ari and E concoct a new project with predictable career-defining highs and “lows” along the way) allows the film to play out seemingly effortlessly; the humour feels natural and the actors slip back into their roles with ease.  It’s as if they never left.

But they did leave, of course, and how brilliant it is to see Ari Gold back on the biggest screen of all. Without a hint of hyperbole, Vince’s perpetually impassioned agent is one of the very best characters ever to grace a screen…of any size. Clearly enjoying himself, Piven’s performance is as wonderful as ever, and while never afforded the chance to do something as wonderful as fire an office full of employees with a supersoaker, his scenes are largely the best in the film.  On another casting note, when was the last time you saw Haley Joel Osment!?  The kid who saw dead people with Bruce Willis and wanted to be a real boy for Spielberg has suddenly returned as a spiteful, spoilt (yet lovably plump) Texan sent to oversee just why Vince is asking for even more money to finish his movie. Osment is one of the best child actors we’ve ever seen; here he shows he’s still go the chops with the most wonderfully slimy performance.

While the critical/audience divide is as hilarious as it is wide, ultimately, this is everything a fan of the show wants. It’s funny and ludicrous in equal measure, with a barrage of the most brilliant cameos in keeping with the show’s big selling point (Kelsey Grammar and Liam Neeson stand out). Of course its crass, it’s outlandish, it’s OTT and rude, but it is all of that it a completely knowing way.  When you watchSouth Park, do you get offended because they make fun of everyone?  Or do you laugh?  Entourage makes fun of itself, it mocks itself.   To take offence at everything Johnny Drama says is to miss the point entirely.  It’s not expected to tick everyone’s box, but for those of whom it does, it ticks them in bold, permanent, expensive marker.

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