“Entourage” is the uninvited dinner guest who then insists on sticking around long after the party’s over.
It’s based on the often amusing inside-Hollywood HBO series about a rising star who keeps his childhood posse as a bubble, protecting him from the sharks, clingers, wannabes and hangers-on who populate the movie business. The series wrapped in 2011 and no one, near as we can tell, felt that it required further wrapping up.
But that’s just what this movie, inspired by producer Mark Wahlberg’s experience of showbiz, does. It wraps up things we thought were tied up with a nice, dull bow.
So star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) recovers from his quickie divorce by deciding what he really wants to do is direct and star in a futuristic “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to be titled “Hyde.”
It’ll be a challenge for him, and a big break for loutish failure of an older half-brother, “Johnny Drama” (Kevin Dillon), whom he’ll give a juicy supporting role.
But his childhood pal turned personal manager “E” (Eric), played by Kevin Connolly, is too distracted to ensure this package comes off, as his ex-girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is pregnant. And being something of an L.A. power now, E is a magnet for the hot women he and his mates pursue with a still-sophomoric vigor.
It’s up to super agent-with-anger-issues Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) to come out of retirement, take over a studio and green light “Hyde.” If only he can keep the Texas financier (Billy Bob Thornton) who owns a chunk of the picture out of the picture.
To say nothing of that Texan’s drawling rube of a skirt-chasing-“I know the movie business” son, played with a sort redneck savant glee by Haley Joel Osment.
These two are what finally make the still-twitchy but supposedly mellowed Ari return to rageaholic form. There’ll be no “kowtowing to cow tippers” on his watch, he fumes, even if he knows “what they do to Jews in Texas.”
Everything you need to know about the movie is in the newcomers who steal it. Osment and Thornton are a hoot, Connolly, Dillon, Grenier and Jerry Ferrara aren’t. They’re playing older versions of the same shallow hounds they always were.
Turtle (Ferrara) was originally just the chubby driver for this crew, has made his own fortune and lost weight, but still drives them around, still endures “weren’t you fat?” jokes from those who deign to remember who he is. Turtle’s attempted courtship of mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey shows us what screen presence and charisma looks like. Rousey has it.
Writer-director Doug Ellin may have caught on that the jokes, structure and cast that kept this show on cable simply aren’t enough to fill up the big screen. He fills every outdoor, party and restaurant shot with eye candy – legions of L.A.’s most gorgeous female extras, fresh temptations for the entourage.
And as with the series, Ellin peppers the film with funny cameos – cranky Jessica Alba, a raging Kelsey Grammer, storming out of therapy as Ari arrives for his session, Liam Neeson flipping off Ari in traffic, a pleading David Spade, musicians, DJs, athletes and actual moguls (including Wahlberg and his own “entourage” – not that funny).
The observations about the business are on the money, but they pretty much exhausted those in the series. Who needs to see another humiliating Johnny Drama audition (with Judy Greer)?
Piven was the lone breakout star from the series, and the movie never gets going until he gets his dander up. But “Entourage” is a movie even Ari Gold can’t rescue from his clients.
Cast: Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Haley Joel Osment, Billy Bob Thornton, Ronda Rousey, Jerry Ferrara
Director: Doug Ellin
Rated R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use)