By Tom Platt. “Everything we do is to also get laid.”
Yes, they’re back. After four years of lying dormant the male equivalent of Sex in the City has reared its ugly head once more. After eight successful seasons on HBO between 2004 and 2011 the first words this franchise decides to utter after its long absence are, “I might have to jerk it before we even get there.”
Consciously aware of its lapse in prominence, Entourage allows Piers Morgan to introduce our primary characters, where they are, who they are, and why they matter. Hailed (or is it mocked?) for playing out as “Sex in the City for men”, Entourage follows a group of friends as they navigate Hollywood’s exploitable film industry in search of wealth and women. We have Vince (Adrian Grenier), the successful actor, E (Kevin Connolly), the ‘nice guy’ manager, Drama (Kevin Dillon), the unsuccessful older brother to Vince, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), the driver and formerly fat friend, and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), the take-no-prisoners talent agent turned studio executive. In their newest adventure the gang must fight a play-it-safe Hollywood film industry as they try to make their 100 million dollar passion project that just might ruin everyone’s career.
Television shows rarely handle the long form of cinema with any grace, usually playing out more like an unnecessarily long episode. With a runtime of 104 minutes, Entourage follows suit, stumbling into this tried and true bear trap. After establishing the through line in the opening scene the movie soon finds itself with 90 minutes to fill and winds up meandering through unnecessary subplots that never really connect to the actual story. Serving more as a way to grant every character a happy ending, these subplots take up so much of the movie that you may start to ask yourself “Where’s Vince? I wonder how his movie’s going.”
Continuing the decline that many believe started around Season 5 (once Vince achieved a bottomless bank account), the Entourage movie doesn’t really have anything left to do, much less a point to convey. The vain attempt at a topical commentary comes from Ari Gold calling hollywood a bunch of “pussies” for allowing outside money to influence their creative decisions. Ari lambasts his fellow studio execs for never taking risks on new films or ideas. Now, while he’s not wrong, Ari is a character complaining about unoriginality in a movie adapted from an HBO TV show from 2004, which is, arguably, based on the formula of another HBO TV show that coincidentally ended in 2004.
This stab at the industry dribbles out as an embarrassing attempt at purpose from a movie that has spent the last 90 minutes bookending every scene with pointless celebrity cameos (my favorite of which involves Liam Neeson simply giving us the finger and driving off in his convertible). As some solace to the half-hearted attempt at purpose, the film performed poorly at the box office, finishing fourth behind both Melissa McCarthy’s Spy and Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson’s San Andreas, thus proving it’s own point that the cliché Hollywood rehash is dying, although it’s not quite dead yet.
As the plot meandered towards a resolution to the conflict that was introduced over an hour ago, the audience, which at 4:30pm on a Saturday consisted of what I assume were only the most diehard of fans, ceased to laugh or even react to the pictures flashing on the screen. After establishing over and over that everything always works out for our heroes (hell, E cheats on his wife with one of her relatives and he still gets her to apologize for it), there is no chance for any wonder as to what will happen.
Entourage is what it’s always been, a fantasy world where women are for ogling, and men are for everything else. The characters in the franchise are so aggressively disturbing as role models that the poor display at the box office is truly encouraging. In the last month alone we have seen successful Hollywood movies involving females written as if they were actually human, providing us all with a glimmer of hope that audiences will no longer accept pointlessly hollow lifestyle films like this one. While this show may have provided an American dream for men a decade ago, the painfully misogynistic pandering to the dude-bro mystique has clearly entered a steep decline. Entourage had a profitable run, now let’s hope we never have to speak of it again.