It’s very hard to make a big screen version of a hit TV series, especially if the film itself is actually a continuation of the TV series that it’s based on. While there have been many great spin-off films to TV shows in the past (SERENITY, BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA, SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER and, most importantly, the STAR TREK series) but honestly, they have been few and far between. Now the latest one to reach cinemas is ENTOURAGE, an acclaimed HBO comedy/satire about Hollywood that run for 8 seasons between 2004 to 2011. So how does this film version compare to the TV series? Read on and find out!
Set 8 months after the events of the 8th and final season, we follow actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as he continues his career in Hollywood with the help of his friends/entourage Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and older brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon). One day Vincent gets a call from his former agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who is now the head of a major studio. Ari wants him to star in the first film that he is producing, but Vincent tells him that he’ll do it if he also gets to direct it as well. However when Vincent’s $100 million directorial debut HYDE (a sci-fi retelling DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE) goes way over budget, Ari goes to Texas billionaire Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) to get some more financing for the film. However McCredle says that he’ll do it, if his son Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment) checks out the film first. Once Travis sees the film, things start to get really complicated for everyone.
Now I should state that before I go into my review, that your possible enjoyment of this film will come down to how you felt about the original TV show itself. If you liked the show, than you most likely enjoy this too. If you didn’t like the show at all, this film is definitely not going to change your mind about it. Also if you’re one of those people who has never seen it, I suggest that you do before hand ’cause it’ll give you some context about plot elements that happen in the film (although there is a scene involving Piers Morgan that gives us a bit of a refresher of what’s been happening so far). Plus I must admit that I’m actually fan of the show, so was I definitely interested in checking this film out. However while I be reviewing it from my POV as a fan, but I will be judging it on its own as a film as well. So what did I think of it? While it does have its flaws (which I’ll get to soon) but honestly for most part, I actually quite enjoyed it. It was actually quite nice to catch-up with these characters again since the show has been off the air. Sure the characters are complete Hollywood douchebags who do and say some very un-PC things (I would be lying if I didn’t admit that they were), but it’s the relationships between these guys that has always kept me invested in them. Plus I alway felt that the TV show gave us insider’s look at what life in Hollywood is really like (whether it is accurate or a complete fantasy, is entirely different story). Writer/director Doug Ellin (who also created the original TV show) did a pretty solid job of recapturing the tone and humour of the show to the big screen. Plus he was able to bring a cinematic approach to the look of the film so that it wouldn’t feel too much like an episode of the show.
The main cast (Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven) fit right back into these characters with ease and you can tell that they are relishing playing these roles again. While Connolly, Grenier and Ferrara was all solid in the film, but the stand-outs once again were definitely both Kevin Dillon as “Drama” and, particularly, Jeremy Piven as “Ari”. I always felt that both Dillon and Piven had the most engaging and interesting characters of the main cast, so I definitely enjoyed their performances whenever they were onscreen. Especially Piven who just steals every scene that he is in and gives it 110% with his hilarious turn (say what you will about the either the show or the film, but Piven is one of the main highlights of both). The supporting casts were also pretty solid and it was to nice to see regular cast members (Emmanuelle Chriqui, Perry Reeves, Rex Lee, Debi Mazar, Constance Zimmer, Rhys Coiro etc.) reprising their roles from the roles from the series as well. When it came to the newest cast members (which include Billy Bob Thornton and Rhonda Rousey, who plays herself), the one who definitely stood out to me was surprisingly in fact Haley Joel Osment as the film’s antagonist “Travis McCredle”. While he has been working in smaller films over last few years (most notably the Kevin Smith horror/comedy TUSK), it was good to see him get a big substantial role in a Hollywood film again and I thought he did a really good job with his performance here (I also had a laugh at an in-joke in the film about one of Osment’s early film roles, you’ll know which I eman you hear it). Plus of course I really enjoyed seeing all the celebrity cameos that sprinkled throughout the film (which I won’t spoil). Some of them are only onscreen for only a few seconds, but a lot of them make their appearances quite memorable.
However even though there were things about the film that I really liked, but there were some aspects about the film that I found to be rather flawed as well. One of the main things being the script. While the script was fine for most part, I did feel that it was rather overstuffed. Other than the main story (which I did like), there were too many subplots that I thought didn’t really add much to the film at all and they could have easily have been taken out since some of them just basically went nowhere (particularly the subplot about “E”‘s love life). It almost as seemed like writer/director Doug Ellin was cramming a TV season’s worth of story-lines into an under two-hour film. Also it does feel a bit repetitive at times, especially since the film does go over some things that we already see before on the TV show. While there are some pretty funny moments, there some other jokes that I thought either fell completely flat or were rather tasteless. It probably doesn’t that help a lot of very un-PC things that most people didn’t like about the original show, are still very much present in the film as well (while it didn’t bother me too much, but I can understand that others will). Plus even though it nice seeing some of my favourite supporting characters from the show again, but sadly I did feel that’s some of them were really underused and weren’t given much to do (particularly Rhys Coiro as “Billy Walsh”, a character I enjoyed watching on the show).
So overall while the film is pretty flawed and it does play pretty much like another season of the show at times, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. This is a film that was definitely made just for fans of the show. Like I said earlier if you’re one of the people who absolutely hated the show, I wouldn’t recommend watching it at all (as matter of fact I think if you did watch it, I think it’ll make you hate this entire series even more). However if one of those who did liked the show or are a fan of it, I would definitely say it’s worth a watch. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, I’ll leave up to you.
– Bede Jermyn