Wednesday 24 June 2015

Review: Entourage: The Movie

Year: 2015
Director: Doug Ellin
Screenplay: Doug Ellin
Starring: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven

Synopsis is here

“Do you actually think that way about movies?” The voice queried at the end of the line. I was left stumped. A brief exchange from a friend in Wales had my mind in a particular conflict.

“If I had to think like that about movies” He continued; “My head would just hurt.”

My friend was talking about an article I shared about the strange, extravagant death which featured in Jurassic World. He was quite astonished that someone would place such thought into something which in the grander scheme of things, is so trivial. He claimed that he meant the writer of the article, but the tone clearly included me, the sharer, the cohort.

I smiled, but for a brief second, I was mildly stumped. While I often challenge my own thoughts on the films I watch, the sheer simplicity of how the question was put across to me, along with a long conversation with friends over Jurassic World and Entourage, had my eyebrow well and truly raised To quote Heath’s Joker: “Why so serious?”

Am I Dothery, believing in the hologram, while Toto is there to show me there’s not much behind the curtain? Am I over thinking these blockbusters, which are only out to entertain? Should one just sit there and mindlessly soak in whatever images that you’ve just happened to pay for? Such questions, don’t keep me up at night, but they do catch me every so often while I do my day job. Movies are just movies, see? And despite nearly everything we watch, read and listen to holding a certain amount influence over us, we should just quieten down and just take it in. The real important stuff is in what you do.

This brings me, in a roundabout way to Entourage, a movie in which the four lead characters do very little and are heavily rewarded. So while the nameless audience should work hard and pay good money to sit down, shut up and take in whatever the entertainment says it is, Entourage is more happy to state that these guys, do nothing get rewarded more and fuck you, because dudebros.
That’s actually quite harsh of me. I was actually pretty fond of the antics of Vince and his crew. The TV show, despite some of its baser elements, was an entertaining romp about Hollywood. The boys were juvenile, but they were mostly harmless. What these guys lacked in airs and graces, they made up for in knock around charm and comrade. The Hollywood namechecking and film scheming were slick and glossy enough to make fans feel like they were “in” with the boys. The always sunny, totally money, world view held by these Hollywood homeboys was never one I could fully subscribe to. But I would quite happily spend 22 minutes engaging a cringe worthy Johnny Drama meltdown or a ball busting Ari Gold tirade. Guilty pleasure? No, just an effectively fluffy time waster.  

In the four years that Entourage came off the air, a lot has changed. TV has now entered a new so-called golden age and the audiences’ demands have been raised to match the quality. The (pop culture) world has now become even more aware of and engaged in gender politics. Argument and debate have spread across sword and sandals sex in Game of Thrones through to Gamergate. Whether you were a feminist before the Twitter landscape shifted or a newly pledged member of the mens rights club. It’s safe to say that the conversation has become louder since 2011.

This makes the Entourage movie feel only a tad less prehistoric than the Jurassic World Dino’s in the screen next to it. A barrage of think-pieces and caustic reviews have had the cast fighting back with exclamations of: “It’s not Citizen Kane!” This is true, but in my eyes, lines like that only really suggest that the film in question is pretty rubbish.

Despite some of the shrillness of the think-pieces and twitter attacks from the internet abyss aimed at Entourage. They’re not completely incorrect. While not the sleaziest film I’ve seen, Entourage has some moments that do make you question the thought process and reasoning on why such elements had to be in the film. It’s more gratuitous moments are the most noticeable and senseless. A pivotal moment involving two prostitutes happily pleasuring themselves orally while two characters converse would perhaps fare better in an exploitation film than a mainstream summer movie. Same goes for Johnna Drama (Dillon), whose constant juvenile chatter about “banging” was far less distracting, when A: he had actual story arcs to navigate in the series. B: He gained more comeuppance.

The fact is Entourage is pretty much what one would have expected from the TV show. Which isn’t great considering that this is a movie. We’re now in a world in which the likes of Game of Thrones can be happily screened on cinema screens. With good reason. Entourage, much like the How I Met Your Mother finale, tries too hard to shove a season’s worth of plot into an extended episode of the series. Unfortunately, rather than the scale, the only thing that feels bigger is the obnoxiousness of the characters. Once you realise that the stakes have never been lower with nothing truly at risk the film’s outcome is uninteresting. With no decent story to speak of, the only thing to observe is the indulgent (and fun) cameos and just how the crass these guys actually are.

To make matters worse, the film’s main cast (Piven aside), lack any command on the big screen in comparison to the home monitors they co-opted in the past. The flaccid four’s weak performances (along with the televisual set ups) help demonstrate the differences between films and TV that some of the stronger television shows have been fighting to blur.

As the film’s box office return slowly claws back its budget (marketing budget unknown), it’s pretty clear that Entourage, much like recent TV-movie adaptations, only really attracted its core fans and that the many articles attacking it, will probably get one or two more tickets through the door. To me, the volume of the Kermode rants and articles hint at a slow release week more than anything. Not that many people gave a damn when Entourage finished. The amount of time past and the change of scope have given a forgettable film slightly more prominence. Yet while the film works in short bursts – the odd funny line, an amusing situation or two – Entourage does very little to show that it’s more than it’s worse faculties. Much like The Sex in the City Movies, the film’s focus on the most facile elements, in a far more socially aware environment, has provided a disappointed outcome. That said, the films musical choices, which have always been well picked for the lifestyle that it’s showcasing, still made my head nod.

The friend I mentioned at the beginning of this piece once asked me to pick a film for him as he was taking someone out on a date. I forget what I suggested, but he took my advice. He married the same girl soon after. He’s thanked me for the choice I made and jokingly stated that I helped solidify the relationship. Yes, at times the way I watch films hurts my head. However, the outcome can be stories like how he met his wife. Something I found more enjoyable than Entourage the movie.