Let's be honest about the film-version of Entourage, the hit HBO comedy series about a rising movie star and his three friends who've followed him from Queens to Tinsel Town: It's the 100th episode of the premium cable's most popular show since Sex and the City, which both works in favor of the film and to it's detriment. While it's great to see Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his pals Eric "E" Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon), along with lovable douchebag super agent-now head honcho of a studio company Ari Gold (the reliable Jeremy Piven) back traversing Hollywood and the spoils of fame, those who disliked the show's eight-year run or those who got tied of the same shtick past season 5 will feel vindicated in their continued frustration as the film does feel like one huge circle jerk of A-list actors making fun of the hand that feeds them, along with having athletes making cameo appearances because they really want to be apart of the show, including Russell Wilson, Rob Gronkowski and Ronda Rousey, the latter of which has a slightly bigger part as Turtle tries to woo her in a cage match. In this regard, Entourage takes its cues from 2008's Sex and the City: it plays to their fans' devotion for sticking with the characters through thick and thin, thus allowing them to reacquaint themselves with old friends.
Unlike the former, the latter was still able to welcome in audiences who've never seen a minute of the adventures of Carrie Bradshaw and her gal-pals Cynthia, Miranda and Samantha, primarily because each character had their own personal arc and we got to see them evolve, which made for a rewarding experience to a SATM novice like myself. In contrast, the former opens with Vince having a party on a boat to celebrate his divorce and shagging one of the female guests onboard, and it ends with the boys walking the red carpet for the Golden Globes. There isn't much character development with any of the leads, save E who becomes a father. Vince is still a womanizing Lothario, Drama continues to have personal crises, usually of his making, Ari is still a huge prick, and Turtle is...well, Turtle, but even Ferrara's character isn't given much to do.
I probably should explain the jist of the plot of Entourage: The Movie: Vince decides he want to take the next step in his career, and he does so by going behind the camera to write and direct a retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a $100 million budget. Unfortunately, the project went overbudget during post-production and Ari is left with the task of asking for more money from their benefactor Larsen (Billy Bob Thorton) a wealthy Texas tycoon who's financing the movie, in addition to dealing with his horndog son (an unrecognizable Haley Joel Osmet - yes, the kid who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense) who has hijacked the project because he has "concerns" and "ideas" about which direction the film should take. The whole thing is a brisk 105 minutes, and the film, despite the lack of character development and falling back on old tricks from the show, never wears out its welcome; a fact that was sorely missed by the latter HBO series-turned movie, as Sex and the City ran for almost 2 1/2 hours.
As I said earlier, you'll either love being back with these characters, or hate how the whole thing feels like a self-glorified victory lap, there's not much middle ground. For me, though? Entourage, despite many shortcomings, is still a fun and occasionally funny satire on Hollywood and celebrity culture. There's a kick hearing Jane's Addiction's "Superhero" belting through the opening credits, much like the show's opener did for the past decade. The camaraderie between Grenier, Connolly, Dillon, Ferrara and Piven is still as strong as it was when the show began (well done Doug Ellin, the film's screenwriter and director). And it is funny seeing Liam Nesson telling Ari to go fuck himself, or watching Drama fall prey to his own over-inflated ego. Simply put, Entourage is a blast. Now let's hope Mark Walberg, one of the film's producers or Ellin himself don't do anything stupid, like make an unnecessary sequel (I'm looking at you, Sex and the City 2).
** 1/2 stars out of ****