Making a feature film as an extension of a popular TV show—as opposed to an entirely separate entity—is an inherently bizarre endeavor, putting creators in the awkward spot of paying off ongoing plotlines for longtime fans without alienating new viewers. Because Doug Ellin’s Entourage is such a butt-stupid series, that second part isn’t much of a problem for the movie, though Ellin has helpfully commissioned Piers Morgan to host a “behind the scenes” segment to bring viewers up to date on relationships that never evolved over eight seasons on HBO. For diehard fans, however, Entourage builds up to what is surely one of the least consequential events in cinema history: the birth of E’s baby.
“E” is Eric (Kevin Connolly), the most responsible (and whiniest, and least funny) of the four buddies Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) brings with him from Queens to Hollywood when his acting career takes off. His on-again/off-again relationship with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is off again when the movie opens, but she’s pregnant, and that leaves the door open. Keep in mind: People with little to no exposure to Entourage have no knowledge or investment in E and Sloan’s relationship, and are being dropped into this melodrama in medias res, unaware of their tortured, boring romantic history. But even the biggest Entourage fan in the world—the guy who would violate multiple restraining orders if he attended the première—could not possibly care about the new addition to the bro family, or whether E and Sloan can really make it work this time. Blockbuster events don’t get much punier than that.
At least the opening minutes of Entourage—once it gets past Piers Morgan, that is—seem primed to deliver good times on a larger scale, like the bacchanals of Spring Breakers and The Wolf Of Wall Street without the bad vibes, or The Lonely Island’s “I’m On A Boat” without the irony and self-deprecation. Entourage the show has always been lifestyle porn, with Vinnie’s brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) and his friends E and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) feasting at the trough of his fame and fortune. The movie offers more of the same, only more: more T&A, more conspicuous consumption, more cameos, more Jeremy Piven yelling, and significantly more Mark Cuban than anyone outside the city of Dallas needs to see. Entourage mimics the Sex And The City formula on the big screen just as it did on the small one, doing more or less the same thing, but on an amplified scale that makes everyone seem like cartoon versions of their former selves.
The big hook here is that Vinnie wants to take the next big step in his career and direct his next movie, and his belligerent agent Ari Gold (Piven), now a newly minted studio head, has made it his first project. When the budget inevitably spirals out of control and Vinnie refuses to screen a cut, Ari has to convince his primary financier, a Texas investor named Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), to give them more money. Larsen sends his half-wit son Travis (Haley Joel Osment, looking like an Allman brother) to Hollywood in his stead, and the fate of the movie—and of Johnny Drama’s long-hoped-for big break as an actor—rests in Travis’ hands.
The affable Turtle gets a dumb subplot, too, pursuing MMA sensation Ronda Rousey, playing herself. And Vinnie draws some tabloid attention for his relationship with model/actress Emily Ratajkowski (as herself), upsetting her boyfriend Armie Hammer (as himself, which here is basically an angry Winklevoss). It’s ridiculous to reflect for a nanosecond about what Vinnie Chase could want to express as an artist—the glimpses of his masterwork-in-progress, Hyde, are exceedingly silly—and Piven’s baroque tirades as Ari Gold, once the show’s main comic attraction, have grown as tired and predictable as Drama’s humiliating auditions and E’s henpecking management style. None of Entourage amounts to much of anything, other than an insincere family-first message and the umpteenth pressing of the reset button. And there’s the sense that Ellin and company wouldn’t have it any other way: Though the birth of E’s kid was plainly too hot for HBO to handle, it’s still a bro’s world, and the film and the show do their part to hold the line.