Film and TV

Entourage Is a Mostly Harmless Romp Through a Hollywood Fantasyland

The first line in Entourage is a good indication of what the next 104 minutes will bring. Peering through a pair of binoculars while a speedboat carries him toward a yacht in the dazzling waters of Ibiza, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), the big brother of megastar Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), glimpses the bikini-clad babes who await him and informs us, “I may have to jerk it before I even get there!”

Hoo, boy. If you can walk out of Entourage without feeling like you've been glazed over with pre-cum, kudos to you. Still, the movie, like the HBO series that spawned it, is hardly a slog. It may be not much more than a heavily branded romp through a Hollywood fantasyland, but it’s got a pulse. It’s easy fun. No one ever died from reading People magazine.

Entourage the movie is essentially a pimped-out episode of Entourage the show, which centered on Vince and his crew from Queens: Drama, a struggling actor; Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Vince's manager; and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), his driver-turned-mogul, who launched a successful tequila company in the show's final seasons. Rounding out the gang is Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince's longtime agent and now the head of his own studio, who once again furnishes most of the laughs.

In the film version of Entourage, the palatial L.A. homes and offices are even bigger, and so are the stakes: Vince, fresh off a marriage that lasted exactly nine days, has decided he wants to do something different, something “meaningful.” (Not in this movie you won't, Vince!) He wants to direct his next film, a challenge that might have made for a fun premise had co-writer/director Doug Ellin — who created the series — not chosen to set the action of his film eight months later, after Vince's movie is effectively complete.

Vince needs more money for visual effects and his ever-growing collection of henley shirts, and he's already $10 million over budget. (Please don't ask me what Vince's movie is about; it's called Hyde, and it involves a dystopian rave and vials of goopy yellow liquid that causes things to explode. It’s excellent, Entourage insists.) Ari heads to Texas to beg cash from Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), the oil baron who's financing the film. Larsen sends his son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment), to L.A. to see a rough cut before dispensing the dough. Travis's role in this story is to make the Hollywood douche-bros look progressive. He's such a pig-headed, gun-toting Texas cliché that even the career asshole Ari sparkles with tolerance standing next to him.

Considering that the film's major turning points hinge on the boys’ romantic relationships, it’s a shame none of the women develops past sketches of angry girlfriends and no-name one-night stands. Sexist, sure, but also a failure of imagination. Has Doug Ellin met a woman?
Early on, Travis attends a party at Turtle's new mansion. (This movie is a wet dream for real-estate junkies and fans of extravagant outdoor furniture.) There he meets Emily Ratajkowski, in one of the film's many cameos. The 23-year-old Ratajkowski came to fame when she appeared in the music video for Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines” in that fateful summer of 2013, and was subsequently — and laughably — cast as the “girl next door” in David Fincher's Gone Girl. Her cameo here blurs the line between the Hollywood of the film and Hollywood itself: Again, she's both cast as and playing the role of the hottest new pair of tits in town, and she ends up causing problems for Vince's movie when Travis takes a liking to her — and so does Vince.

In the world of Entourage, women are a problem to be solved, always getting themselves knocked up or desired by the wrong man. Turtle — who's slimmed down so much that Ari tells him, “You look like Karen fucking Carpenter” — hits it off with the UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, and the two have more chemistry than any of the other possible romantic pairings. But like most of Entourage's women, she’s quick to irrational anger, threatening her and Turtle's budding romance over a simple misunderstanding.

Eric's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who is pregnant with his child, is just as capricious. The women in the Entourage universe have no shortage of physical gifts, but no motives. They're a mystery to their boyfriends and sex partners — bitches be crazy! — and they're a mystery to the viewer. When Sloan gives birth to a girl, Drama storms into the hospital and hollers, “Do we have ourselves a baby?” Welcome to L.A., baby girl. You're in for a rough ride.

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Lara Zarum is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.