Ye shall know “Entourage” by its acronyms: A lot of carelessly amusing R&R, copious T&A, a fair amount of BS and a consistently low-to-medium IQ.
Writer Doug Ellin does a quick, efficient job of introducing novices to the concept of the TV show he created in 2004. Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) has risen to fame and taken three pals with him: manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and half-brother Johnny (Kevin Dillon), who has yet to establish his own acting career.
Hard-driving agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) has gotten rich, quit and come back as the head of a studio. He wants Vince to star in a modern-day Jekyll/Hyde story, and Vince agrees – if he can make his directorial debut. Ari says yes, triggering a conflict with a high-level Texas investor whose son decides he hates Vince.
I didn’t watch the show, but I can’t imagine the writing could have been so sloppy. Vince dates Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Emily Ratajkowski and seems to be deepening a relationship; then she disappears from the film. Eric sleeps around carelessly, yet we’re supposed to root for him to get back with his pregnant ex-flame (Emmanuelle Chiriqui). Mixed martial arts champ Ronda Rousey becomes Turtle’s dream woman; then they have one of those fake arguments lazy writers use to create “tension.”
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Yet if the film’s not a steak, it has cheeseburger virtues. Piven has never been better as exasperated Ari, who struggles to remain balanced among the demands of wife, boss, a former underling (who’s using Ari’s house for a gay wedding) and the father-son yeehaws, a shrewd meanie (Billy Bob Thornton) and a lecherous buffoon (Haley Joel Osment).
Ellin keeps the picture nipping along at a good clip. The actors on Vince’s team have natural appeal; they’ve worked together so long that they really seem like pals who moved west from the old New York neighborhood. Their insouciance differs from L.A. smugness, even when it’s expressed in the same profane language, and it’s more appealing.
The story plays into audience preconceptions that life in Los Angeles has no consequences. You can be the butt of a sex-tape scandal and collect a Golden Globe nomination a few months later. When you need dough to finish a movie that goes over budget, you bully or beg or blackmail somebody, and the money faucet opens.
The film features many people playing themselves in cameos: Liam Neeson, Kelsey Grammar, T.I., David Spade, even Warren Buffett. Almost all are angry, which plays to another myth poor people like to embrace: Money can’t buy happiness in Hollywood. Trust me: It usually does.
A lazily entertaining (if unmemorable) movie about a novice director trying to succeed with his pals in the movie industry.
B- STARS: Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara.
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Doug Ellin.
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes.
RATING: R (pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use).