I went into Entourage cold, having never seen an episode of the HBO TV show. I was aware that the program was respected at one point, but I had bigger fish to fry with my limited hours of TV viewing, and when somebody called it “Sex and the City for men,” that was enough to scare me off. Watching the movie marked the end of my ignorance, which is ordinarily something for me to celebrate. In this case, though, it just made me want to go home and wash the stink of rich-white-guy entitlement off me.
The film picks up with movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) marking the end of his nine-day marriage by deciding to do something meaningful. Propitiously, his former agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) has become a studio head and wants Vincent to star in a blockbuster franchise, only Vinnie wants to direct the film. Things come to a head when the movie’s Texas billionaire financier (Billy Bob Thornton) sends his idiot son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) to Hollywood to oversee his investment.
A clumsy news-segment prologue hosted by Piers Morgan introduces neophytes to Vinnie’s hangers-on: his older half-brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), his driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and his best friend and manager E (Kevin Connolly). The subplots involve Drama trying to be taken seriously as an actor, Turtle trying to date Ronda Rousey (who plays herself), and E trying to patch things up with his pregnant ex (Emmanuelle Chriqui). None of these plotlines work, the acting is generally indistinct (even Piven is uncharacteristically muted), the movie is overburdened with cameos (by everyone from Warren Buffett to Russell Wilson), Doug Ellin’s script drips contempt for Texans, and the only criticism Vinnie’s movie gets comes from the jealous, player-hating Travis. Also — small issue — the jokes aren’t funny.
Still, none of this goes to the heart of what’s wrong here. Vinnie is a bad actor and, from what little we see of his film, a bad director. He and his buddies live in mansions and party endlessly, and neither the movie nor anyone else ever calls them out for having done nothing to earn their awesome lives. They’re a waste of space, and they don’t even know it. At least the Sex and the City girls had jobs where they were doing some theoretical good in the world. No, wait, here’s a better comparison: At least This Is the End recognized that the Hollywood bros at its center needed some justification for their existence. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s comedy was much better at satirizing celebrity culture.
Entourage doesn’t satirize Tinseltown’s vapid materialism. It embodies it. Therein lies the one valuable thing that this movie achieves. Vinnie and his posse screw gorgeous women and then toss them aside, and the only time they ever think of anyone but themselves is when they exhibit blind loyalty to one another. The entertainment industry is run by too many guys just like these noxiously privileged douches. Without meaning to, this movie shows us in unflattering detail why we hate Hollywood. Or one reason, anyway.
Starring Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, and Adrian Grenier. Written and directed by Doug Ellin, based on his TV show.