With Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara. Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Piven. Written and directed by Doug Ellin. Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use. 104 minutes.
If you were a fan of the HBO series “Entourage” (2004-2011), about Hollywood star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), whose older brother Johnny (Kevin Dillon), and best friends Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), revolved around him, you’ll likely enjoy the big screen version. Like the “Sex and the City” movies, it’s a parting gift from a no-longer-running series.
For the rest of us, this mildly entertaining movie (also called ENTOURAGE) is decidedly minor fare. In the world of Hollywood satires, this falls far short of movies like “Sunset Boulevard,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “State and Main” or “The Player.” This is something that will help you pass a couple of hours, and will no doubt play better next year when it turns up on HBO.
You don’t have to know much going in, although undoubtedly some jokes are lost on those not invested in the series. Vincent’s agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is now the head of a studio and he wants Vincent for his first big film. Vincent agrees… provided he can direct. This leads to the conflicts in the film as Vincent goes over budget, Ari has to go to Texas to get more money from the studio’s big backer, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), and Larsen agrees only if his idiot son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) can supervise.
Other than the various hot babes who serve the same function here that the various men in “Sex and the City” did (to provide some eye candy for the viewer), the chief attractions here are the numerous cameos and Piven’s turn as Ari Gold. There are bits both by people who were on the show and a surprising number of celebrities, and it can be fun if you recognize them. (It can also be annoying if other people in the audience are reacting and you don’t know why.)
As for Piven, his performance is comedy gold. He’s found a way to take what could be a clichéd character and make him an original. One of the reasons Ari’s changed jobs is because he was getting too aggravated and tense. His attempts to stay calm–including by meditating while driving–provide some of the best laughs in the film.
Grenier doesn’t quite convince as someone with the potential to be a visionary director while the rest of the crew are cartoonish characters. For those who already know them in depth from the show, that context presumably helps. For those coming in cold, this movie isn’t likely to send you scurrying to power watch the original series.
As a satire of the movie industry, “Entourage” is Hollywood Lite.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is “Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide.” He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.