Ending a long-running series can be tricky, even when a show’s creative team has time to wrap things up. So why go through the process of reuniting the team a few years later for a film? In Entourage‘s case, I can only imagine that HBO saw the money raked in from Sex and the City years ago and decided to give the male equivalent series its own shot. Unfortunately, Entourage encounters some of the problems of another HBO theatrical release: Sex and the City 2. One of the advantages to the first film in that series was that the movie essentially ran like a slightly condensed season of the show, taking place over the course of a year. The second film, of course, took one story that spans a few weeks at best, and stretched it. While Entourage doesn’t have the same length issues, it does suffer from feeling like a bloated episode or two of the series. I assume, at least – this is my first taste of Entourage, so this could be more like a season after all.
The opening of the film may be confusing for those new to the series, but in short: it takes place roughly a week after the series finale and unwinds a few of the series’ storylines in order to set up some material for the film to tackle. The film then cuts to eight months later, with Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) in the process of making his directorial debut on Hyde, a modern take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He’s able to make the expensive film thanks to a deal with former manager/current studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who’s leveraging his job on the potential success or failure of his former client.
Meanwhile, Vince’s entourage have their own issues going on. In the ensuing eight months, Eric (Kevin Connolly) has been dating various women while also being attentive to on-again/off-again girlfriend Sloan, who’s carrying their child. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) has stumbled into an undisclosed amount of wealth, but finds it difficult to connect to his crush, Ronda Rousey (playing herself). As for Drama, he’s hoping a small but pivotal role in Hyde will boost his acting career.
There’s some drama, as Vince’s movie’s over budget, and the financier creates some road blocks when approached for more money. There are other, smaller bits of drama as well, but for the most part, Entourage is essentially just an excuse to bring the cast and crew back together, and to give the show’s fans more of what they apparently love. Guessing that everything will work out for the characters is a given.
Having never seen an episode of the series, I’ll admit I was at a disadvantage understanding the relationships. The film uses an “interview” with Piers Morgan to fill in some backstory and explain the relationships between the characters, but those first few minutes where the film unties some of the strings the show created in its finale were rather confusing, and I don’t see unfamiliar audiences reacting well to that part of the film.
The cast is somewhat hit and miss. Piven won three Emmys for his work on the series, and it’s easy to see why. He’s over the top, but hilarious. Of the main group, Ferrara worked best for me. He’s the most relatable of the four, and his work trying to get Ronda Rousey’s attention was oddly heartwarming. I’m not sure how popular Drama was in the series, but to be honest, I couldn’t imagine sitting through eight seasons of the character. The film also brings in Haley Joel Osment as the son of the billionaire financier, and it’s hard to buy his role as the nominal villain of the film.
The biggest problem with the film, though, is that it’s not designed to bring in new fans. It works for fans of the show who know the characters, without doing much of anything to open up to those who didn’t catch the show when it first ran (or subsequently on HBO Go). For anyone else, it’s bound to feel like little more than a diversion. It didn’t make me feel like going out and immediately streaming the show, which might be okay if this was premiering on HBO. But it’s not HBO – it’s the big screen.