To talk about the plot of the movie will mean delving into the final run of the show, and where it left us, which invariably means spoilers, and even for something four years old there’s a culture that worries a little too much, so, as a disclaimer – you have been warned.
We’re just days out from the final shot of the show (pre-credits, not the end of episode bonus scene which this is barely hours after, seemingly) and E (Kevin Connolly), Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) are speeding across the water to a yacht where movie-star Vince (Adrian Grenier) is having a big alcohol-fuelled party. At the same time former Hollywood agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) has accepted the role as head of a movie studio, and his out-of-retirement golden plan is to get Vince to lead his first green-lit picture.
Vince needs the distraction, but he wants to direct this film, a first for him. Ari’s inability to say no to his golden boy, and Vince’s inability to fail at anything unless the direction is upwards means that nothing can possibly go wrong, until everyone needs money to make the movie perfect, to finance the next tentpole releases, and the financiers are less-than-forgiving about the waste of capitol. Enter the financiers, Texan oil man Billy Bob Thornton and his son Haley Joel Osment, who is assigned to make sure their money is being used wisely, and to hang out in Hollywood, where dreams come true. Welcome to the Entourage.
Anyone familiar with the series knows that the show sells itself on insider Hollywood jokes and stories, but the heart comes from the relationships, the interplay between movie star Vinnie Chase, his older brother, struggling actor Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase, old school chum and business manager Eric ‘E’ Murphy and lazy stoner friend-turned-entrepreneur Turtle (His real name exists, but he’s Turtle and he’ll always be Turtle), the way they get along with one another, the way they help each-other out and goof on one another, how they can at once be listening posts for relationship problems and added anxiety a group of friends. The film remembers this well, as underneath the glamour and celebrity cameo-laced insanity of, say, a big screening of a 140-minute EDM adaptation of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, we spend time with E and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chiqui), and with Turtle as he woos Ronda Rousey, the fighter from UFC, both of which are weighty with the knowledge of years of stories from the show, for the actors and the audience.
The drama is mostly fruitful and offers depth to the proceedings, but sometimes it struggles, mostly with E’s character as he spends time with a new girlfriend who splits amicably with him, then half-heartedly begins a storyline that mostly peters out within the space of 5 minutes, so that the film can focus up on the main relationships of E. It’s a strange decision, one that feels born out of pacing more than anything else, but it might have been better to lose the second half of the storyline in the first place.
The glitz and glam, the showbiz punches that make Entourage something quite special are large and in charge in the movie, from the moment the boys step out into Hollywood once again we are infused with many notable faces, some for split-second moments, some for a good deal of time, all willing to play for the cameras and just embrace the characters as part of the world, and thus we accept the world of the film as legitimate. It’s always been a touch the show did well, from the moment Mark Wahlberg walked past the boys in season one, knowing Turtle, talking golf with Drama, we were watching people that the people we love love, and by proxy we love the Entourage boys. And to this day that has stood firm. So when we watch Pharrell clamouring for Vince’s directorial debut, or Liam Neeson with a few choices words to Ari, or Gary Busey waxing lyrical – it means the world of the film is a full world, one that is intrinsically linked to ours, one that seems only a hop on a private jet away, one that we want to be in, but are happy just to spend a few hours with the populace.
It’s hard to argue Entourage’s pro’s and con’s for a newcomer to the franchise, despite Piers Morgan giving a detailed examination of everything that has come before in the opening ten minutes, it may still be hard for those in the dark to come round to the world and the characters. Entourage is very much a great film for the fans, harkening back to the days when the show found itself at its height of power and quality, the drama is there but never overwhelming the fun times to be had, and the importance of the group being together, rather than finding their independent paths, is significantly more entertaining. As ever, Piven’s powerhouse Ari Gold snaps through scenes and proves that he deserved every award he received during the show’s run, and makes sure that within seconds it feels like he never left, or if you’re new, he tells you who he is in actions alone very quickly.
Similarly, Dillon’s Drama remains one of the great comedic characters of all time, a sweet-natured, sometimes simple man who is ambitious and determined and tries so hard that when failure hits it is crushing for us all. The film recognises how much Drama means to the audience, and the Entourage, and whilst it feels like he’s barely got anything to do in the first half of the movie, the second hour gives Drama some classic scenes and one of the best final ten minutes you could ever hope for. If the series finale gave a lot of happy endings out, the movie finds those it was less complete for and gives them the kind of extreme highs that even the show could never pull off.
Entourage is a very enjoyable, fun time at the cinema, one that feels like a really great half-season of the show, in shorter duration but bulked out with stories, cameos, jokes, moments, some honest-to-goodness emotional beats and a lot of moments worth high-fiving over. For those unfamiliar, maybe a test drive through some of the show’s best moments will be worth doing before seeing, but as TV to Movie spin-offs go, this is one made with passion, hope, dreams, good vibes and aiming to put smiles on your face. There’s something so uncynical about the film that any flawed moment is easy to shrug off as something great is always around the corner. A fan-must and a strong recommend for those out of the loop.