I wish I’d reviewed Doug Ellin’s big-screen ENTOURAGE a week ago, if only because there needs to be at least somewhat of a counterbalance to the trendy pile-on of critics bashing the film for being exactly what it should be. It was last Monday that I (as a member of the Fandango Family Digital Network), along with three friends, headed into Chicago proper for an advance screening of the film at the Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON. As a quartet of fans that have been missing the EMMY-winning series (which ended its run on HBO in 2011), the cinematic tale played like a reunion of old friends, picking up a mere nine days from where we left off, unfolding like a feature-length episode of the show that we all held dear.
In order to set ENTOURAGE in motion, there needed to be a bit of an annulment of the series’ finale, and that’s exactly what we find within the opening moments of the film — Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) having ended his marriage in less than two weeks, noted as “not being the shortest Hollywood marriage,” a milestone attributed to Britney Spears. We quickly learn that someone else had been miserable in the weeks following the final chapter, as Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) wasn’t exactly digging life in Italy with “Mrs. Ari” – a fact technically revealed in a short film for General Motors’ Cadillac division, ARI GOLD IS BACK – a showcase for their abandoned CIEL concept car, which Ellin was so enamored by, he wrote it into the script (personally, I’m a fan of the ELMIRAJ, which I mentioned over a year ago).
Yes, ENTOURAGE features plenty of the eye candy and luxury that fans of the series might expect, from stylish rides and top-shelf booze to extravagant homes, celebrity cameos, one-night-stands and hangers-on… because this is ENTOURAGE.
Why it works so well is that the core of the story still revolves around the friendships and brotherhood of Vinnie and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) – guys that, like nearly everyone in Los Angeles, come from somewhere else (in this case, Queens, NYC) with big dreams and ambition. And here that ambition finds Vince at the helm of a $100M film as a first-time director, one that goes over budget and pits the entire crew against a Texas financier (Billy Bob Thornton) and his jealous son (Haley Joel Osment). It’s all wrapped in a comedic version of the bizarre hyper-reality of Hollywood life, which is something I’ve had some tiny tastes of in my real life (I will write a book at some point).
In skimming the reviews that keep flying on the socials, what I see is a suspicious amount of writers throwing out babble about “white privilege” and “entitlement” – sometimes more than once in the same review – both of those terms being quite fashionable right now, especially with the financial collapse still fresh on the minds of many. Truth is, they’re cop-outs. In the America that I know and love, there should be absolutely no shame in working hard to achieve lofty goals, and in no way should success (or even perceived success) be considered a bad thing. Part of the appeal of ENTOURAGE was seeing four guys from modest backgrounds trying to “make it,” with varying degrees of success (and a ton of failure) along the way.
What ENTOURAGE reminds us is that even those with what seems to be the greatest of success, are always just one misfire away from being back at the start.
Here’s hoping that the ENTOURAGE movie finds its true audience when it comes home later this year…