'Entourage' Movie Review: Struggling Between Fandom, Objectivity, The Past And Present

Though it might seem frivolous and forgettable on the surface, an Entourage movie is actually quite complex. At least for me. The simplest way to talk about is this. Imagine watching a 4 day-long movie. Once you got to the final 90 minutes, odds are you'd have a much more personal and vested interest in the material than someone who watched the final 90 minutes alone. Such is the blessing, and curse, of Entourage.

It's also a show that comes with ton of baggage both from its long run on HBO as well as the current public perception of it. And now, there's a movie of this show that's been off the air for several years. Below, we'll look at the Entourage movie from multiple perspectives and see that it's a movie worth discussing in more ways than you probably think.

A Look Back

The TV show Entourage ran for 8 seasons, each of varying length. Fans who spent all that time with those characters (roughly 100 hours of storytelling) are almost universally going to love the film, which exactly replicates the fun, light tone of the best of series and serves as a much more fitting, satisfying conclusion than the actual finale. Those people will probably also know what they're in for.

When Entourage debuted in 2004, it was a different time. The economy hadn't collapsed. Society was less sensitive and a show about four white men flourishing in Hollywood was seen as mostly-harmless entertainment. A fantasy where the anything was possible, the party never ends, and four nobodies from Queens can make their way to the top. Yet, they didn't really work to get to the top. They just appeared there, and that gave them a chip on their shoulder and a desire to work hard to stay there. Nevertheless, show me a person who doesn't want to live the life of movie star Vincent Chase and I'll show you a liar. Maybe they'd do it differently, but they'd still do it.

To like the Entourage movie is to understand its roots. Written and directed by show creator Doug Ellin, it's a show about friendship, a show about family, and most importantly a show about movies. I don't think there's ever been a show that's been as big a fan as the movie making process than Entourage. There are other shows about the business, but for eight seasons, Entourage explored and poked fun at the Hollywood machine with detail that's second to none. Full episodes of the show were devoted to screenwriting, reading scripts, agent quarrels, managerial positioning, directorial changes, press junkets and battles in the editing room.

Yet the public perception of the show is now that it was Jersey Shore: Los Angeles, a bunch of "Bros" doing their hair, burning their money, and treating women like objects for the hell of it. Does the show have one or two of those aspects? Unquestionably. Episodes of the show are also dedicated to strip club visits, brothels and threesomes. But none of that was ever without consequences, without empowering the women, or set up as a distraction of the real point of the show. That is: friends will be friends, even in the most incredible of circumstances.

All this is preamble to reiterate the Entourage movie is biggest, best Entourage episode ever. If you didn't watch the show, or have a skewed perception of it, the movie does little to win you over. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though it'll be seen as such.

A Fan's Perspective

Looking at the film as a fan, I love Entourage. I've been watching since the first episode of the first season and it's always been one of my favorite shows. From the moment Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier) got out of the limo at his first movie premiere, I was hooked. The fast lifestyle, the Hollywood spin, the camaraderie, it had so many aspects I latched onto. Sure, the last two seasons missed the mark but fans have little to worry about here. The film is right back in line with the first four seasons of the show, which were smart, fun and exciting.

In the film, only a few weeks have passed since the end of Entourage season 8. Right off the bat, Ellin clears the plate of all lingering storylines to give the movie a fresh start. Super agent turned studio executive Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) has a new movie for Vince. Vince, however, will only make the movie if he can direct it. Fast forward eight months, the movie is done, and everyone is worried. Did Chase make the movie that will finally bring him the respect he deserves? Or will he sink not only himself, but his agent and his friends, too?

In the film, each member of the Entourage gets to pay off his stories from the television show. You get to see Vince spread his wings as an artist. You see E (Kevin Connelly) come out of his shell and discover who he really wants to be. You get to see Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) becoming the man he never was, and you see Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) prove that perseverance and dedication do pay off. All of this is done with Ellin's trademark wit and style.

There are several dozen cameos, references to the show and laughs that are smart, crass and even disturbing. Basically the movie is a ride that works best if you know these characters, and the tone, inside and out.

That's a very important distinction, too. The tone of the show, again, is of a different era. At that time, words we now deem offensive were not quite as biting. Watching a show about living in excess was less off-putting then than it is now in a world struggling to survive. With 2015 eyes, many people are sure to be taken back by moments in the movie, like Turtle saying all the guys ever want to do is get laid, or Drama talking about masturbation.

And yet that's who these characters are and always have been. Either you love to hate them, or you love to love them. They've never been particularly wise. They're just guys, raw, uncensored, yet dedicated and motivated to each other and success. The movie shows those qualities. Some may call them horrible. I call them recognizable, brutal and uncomfortably honest.

A Fan's Struggle

The fact these characters are more than what's on screen may not come across in a movie. If I wasn't familiar with Entourage, I'm not sure I could get over some of the character traits. I'm not sure from the film itself I'd understand who these guys are and have been, or that they learn anything by the end of the movie. And that's why, I think, Entourage is a great movie for fans, but maybe not for non-fans.

In the Entourage movie, Vincent Chase finally gets to direct a movie. We know he's a star because we see him partying and highlighted in a brief, albeit funny news piece at the beginning of the film. But in the movie itself, you never actually see him be a star. He's not followed by paparazzi, doing interviews or really anything besides hang out with lots of famous people. The movie tells us Vince is a star, but never really shows it.

The movie also tells us Eric is Vince's best friend and manager. But in the film, it's an afterthought. For most of the movie Eric is on his own, dealing with his ex-girlfriend (Sloane, played by Emmanuelle Chriqui, who has less of an arc than any of the already thin men) and once or twice, sitting next to Vince in a meeting. We never see him battle Ari, choose a script, turn down another, take other clients. The friendship, trust and loyalty that's so crucial to the show is buried by the narrative.

In the movie, Turtle is a millionaire going after a beautiful woman. That's pretty much it. How is the film audience supposed to know, for years, he's been struggling to be his own person? How he's tried to break out of Vince's shadow? That he's had numerous failed businesses like rap producer, limo manager and more? None of that struggle is in the film, only the subtext.

Drama's story, on the show, is probably the most emotional and interesting because we see him fail more often than not. In the film, he's got the biggest arc too but still, those failures are only mentioned. We don't see him blow audition after audition, go on strike, or tell his many horror stories. None of that pain is felt by the movie audience. So when he finally does taste success, it's not as sweet.

The End

In a normal movie review, if the four main characters do nothing but zoom through a story, it's a sure-fire sign a movie is bad. And if this was a normal movie review, maybe I'd say the Entourage movie is bad. But as has become abundantly clear, it's hard for me to give an objective take on Entourage because I have so much personally invested in the film. The most objective things I can say about the movie is it's simple, straight forward, and there's lots of cool stuff to look at on the screen. It has a true love of the movies, a solid story about making a movie, and some decent twists and turns. There's almost no character development, and it's from a different time. So if you want something meaningful and rewarding on its own, Entourage is not it. And for that reason, I'm pretty sure most are going to look at the movie on its own and say it's not a good movie. I understand and respect that.

The fact is, I do care about these characters. A lot. I've spent 11 years of my life with them and Entourage the movie is a wonderful addition to the story. Will it be the send off? I hope not. But considering the world we live in today and the world Entourage portrays, I tend to think it might be.