Movie Review - Entourage (2015)

I was a bit of a fan of the HBO series that spawned this feature. Comparisons have been made to the Sex and the City movie, but the difference for me is that I cared about all the characters in that film of predominantly female protagonists. I didn't care about all the characters in this film of predominantly male protagonists.

Mark Wahlberg's life was the inspiration for the premise of this film. It focuses on a movie star named Vincent "Vinny" Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, and the people who surround him as he grows his Hollywood career and lives it up in La-La land. Chief among those people are his agent, Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, his older brother and fellow actor, Johnny Drama, played by Kevin Dillon, his best friend and manager, Eric or "E", played by Kevin Connolly, and his good friend and driver, Turtle, played by Jerry Ferrara.

The main plot involves Vinny ending his marriage after nine days and going back to his playboy lifestyle. Yet, he gets the opportunity to direct his first feature film. Because Ari is no longer an agent but a studio executive at Warner Bros., Ari is able to greenlight the project and give Vinny, a 100-million-dollar budget. The problem comes when Vinny insists he needs even more money in order to finish, and Ari has to get the money from his Texas investor who will only provide the funds, if they can make drastic changes to the film against Vinny's wishes. One change is the elimination of Vinny's brother, Johnny who has an integral and possibly award-winning role.

All of this would be great plot to explore and dramatize, while also satirizing the inner workings of Hollywood from a perspective, an insider's perspective that one rarely sees, the perspective of a studio executive. Writer-director Doug Ellin, however, makes a crucial mistake in that he makes the exploration, the dramatization and the satirization all about where Vinny puts his penis and where others want to put their anatomy rather than about honest debates about film quality and who should or should not be judging it.

I understand that Ellin wants to portray Vinny as this amazing filmmaker who is only hampered by the son of the Texas investor and the son alone is leading the charge against Vinny and his brother. However, it's frustrating because we have to rely on the word of only one. I wish Ellin had allowed us to see Vinny's film more, so we could get more of a context, especially the scenes involving Johnny. This would have allowed the audience to connect more to the overall struggle at play.

There is a scene where Vinny is about to screen the film for a bunch of people on the beach. At the last minute, Vinny cancels it and I'm not sure I buy why. Gauging the reactions of all the people on that beach would have helped tremendously of how much I should be invested in Vinny's movie.

The same goes for Johnny. His character has an arc in this movie, which taps into this idea that has been the running joke throughout the 8 years the HBO series ran. Johnny is older and arguably the better actor between him and his brother, but, because Vinny is younger and sexier, Vinny has more success. Johnny, therefore, has to live in his younger brother's shadow. If we are to root or laugh at Johnny Drama, seeing him in Vinny's movie feels vital. Without it, how are we to invest in Johnny as an independent and separate force?

It also really would have given Kevin Dillon who is himself a great actor more of a platform to shine. Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) is great as a hairy pig who is an antagonist for Vinny and Ari. However, Piven is the true MVP. He gets the best lines, the best entrances and exits, as well as the best storyline. Still, I wasn't laughing all that much. I was more into the drama. Connolly and Ferrara are totally forgettable. Their presences felt like padding or supremely superfluous. They could have been eliminated entirely from this plot and it wouldn't have taken anything away.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 44 mins.

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