Four years on from the TV series ending, Entourage is back on the big screen. The show lasted for an impressive eight seasons and, considering its large and dedicated fanbase, it is no wonder that the programme has made its way to cinema. But can a show about Hollywood really fare well when its satirical nature has evaporated due it now actually being a part of that world?
Playfully (and as may have been expected), the spin-off of the long-running series centres on a bunch of people in Los Angeles making a film. It is the movie equivalent of a Russian doll, in which all the dolls inside it look exactly the same and you cannot help but stare at it disappointedly.
Much like 2008's Sex And The City film, Entourage seems to have its focus so set on making things bigger and flashier that the need for a good story behind all that glitz and glamour is completely neglected.
Through the promotion of Entourage, writer and director Doug Ellin has suggested that when the movie was in its planning stages, it was his intention to make the film more reminiscent of the lighter-hearted earlier seasons of the TV show rather than the darker territory it covered towards the series' end. Whilst he seemingly managed to achieve his goal, what he subsequently also accomplished was to completely disregard any of the personal journeys or characters arcs that happened across the later part show's run, instead reverting back to the one-dimensional juvenile characters we were subjected to when Entourage began.
Knowing the reactions from avid viewers when the later seasons aired and how much they disagreed with the more serious themes the show was exploring, it is pretty evident that Ellin did this to satisfy existing fans and to emphasise the idea of simply having a good time. So if you were already a lover of the superficial world of Entourage the TV show, you are certainly not going to walk away from the movie disappointed. Just like Vince has got his boys back, you've got the old show back.
Looking at it from fresh eyes, it is hard to describe any of the main characters as likeable. Adrian Grenier's Vince is so unexciting and pales into insignificance so often that it is difficult to believe he could even be an A-list celebrity, while his three friends fall into the cliches of the slightly sweeter worrier of the group (Eric), the easy-to-manipulate one (Turtle) and the primitive one that delivers the adult equivalent of burp and fart jokes (you be the judge on that one). The show's episodes were no longer than 30 minutes – so perhaps it is a case of these characters are amusing, but only for a short period of time when the dose is taken all in one go.
Considering he was the fan favourite throughout the years the show was on air, it is baffling to see Ari as a side character in the movie. Jeremy Piven is undoubtedly the stand out amongst the whole cast and as his work-induced tantrums and diva-like put-downs consistently save the film from being a downright disaster, the question is begged; would a more Ari-centred plot have worked better? In the scenes that we see him in, it is fair to conclude that it would have.
In his biggest role for many years, Haley Joel Osment gives Piven a run for his money as the redneck son of the wealthy financier sent to overlook the movie's production but in the end, cannot quite surpass Piven's charisma on screen and even he ends up seeming to lose sense of what his character's interesting traits could be.
As well as the characters, something else that grows a little tedious are the excessive amount of cameos featured in the movie. After you've seen the likes of Thierry Henry, Kelsey Grammar, Jessica Alba, Mark Wahlberg and Liam Neeson (and those are just the recognisable ones) for absolutely no justifiable reason, they soon wear thin. It is not enough to have celebrities just pop up in your film in this day and age, you need to get them to actually do something funny while they are onscreen. Back in the show, the guest stars always had some kind of tie-in but that luxury appears to have been abandoned here as all of the cameos seem to be 'bumped into' for the sake of it, rather than add anything to the story.
The treatment of the women in the film is probably the icing on the cake when it comes to its flaws. Audience members who, prior to watching the film have never seen the series, would never guess based on this depiction that secondary female characters such as Sloan, Dana and Ari's wife, Melissa were actually pretty dynamic and strong additions throughout the show. Here, their respective roles seem to be reduced to not much more than 'doe-eyed pregnant ex', 'colleague' and 'nagging wife'.
However, those are the women in the film that actually get some kind of characterisation, even if they are painfully stereotypical. The rest of them come across more like props used for gratuitous breast-filled sex scenes, skimpy bikini shots and absolutely nothing else.
A large majority of the film is made up of scenes in which the core four men spend their time talking about their latest bedroom conquests or ogling at young women at the numerous parties they attend; something that seems even less appropriate now that the actors are a hell of a lot older than they were when the show started 11 years ago.
One thing about Entourage is that you certainly will not get bored and the pace moves so quickly that you probably will not even notice the downsides until you sit and have a reflection on all things Hollywood a few hours later. The backdrop of a sun-soaked LA and lavish apartments is easy on the eyes and there are a few laugh-worthy moments throughout the whole thing.
But, the notable moment of all, has to be the idea that the film in they are making in the movie has them actually winning awards. Of all the exaggerations of Hollywood that this movie possesses this one, brilliantly ironic, has got to be the best.