The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Entourage is a perfect example of a show wearing out its welcome. Originally fresh and knowing about Hollywood, it ran for eight seasons, growing incredibly stale after a while. (I bailed halfway through season seven.) The series had trouble finding new things to skewer about the craziness of show business. Also, the need to have its characters grow pulled them in different directions, which in turn took away from the group chemistry that was initially so appealing. Something similar happened with Sex and the City, yet HBO was able to launch that program onto movie screens successfully anyway. Now Entourage is making the same leap. The film is exactly what you'd expect: it's a 104-minute episode of the show, albeit closer to the later seasons than the earlier ones.

After a souped-up version of the opening credits that features the familiar refrain of “Superhero” by Jane's Addiction, we find actor Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) in a pickle. He's just directed his first film, but has gone way over budget and needs more money to finish. Together with best friend/producer Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Vinnie asks former agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) for extra cash to complete the project. Typically displeased about the situation, Ari pays a visit to Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), the rich Texas businessman who put up a large chunk of change to finance the film. McCredle sends his son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) to L.A. to determine whether Vinnie's film is worthy of the added investment. The kid decides it needs major changes, which sets off a series of tense negotiations of both the business and the personal variety.

Entourage was always at its best when serving as a behind-the-scenes-of-Hollywood story, and that's true of the movie, too. When it focuses on Vinnie's project facing peril, it works fairly well. Writer/director Doug Ellin looks at the state of modern filmmaking, where big-budget productions require the participation of outside investors who, of course, want to have a say in how their money is being spent. The clash between artists and money-men is not a new one, although it has taken on higher stakes given that the globalization of cinema has everyone shooting for the Billion Dollar Club. (The biggest hits, such as The Avengers can earn that much worldwide.) Entourage wickedly satirizes the uncomfortable merger of art and commerce, in addition to the often bizarre motivations financiers have for wanting to exert their influence.

When it's focused on things not so show business-centered, the movie comes up short. Each of the other characters has his own plot thread, but most of them don't pay off very satisfyingly. E finds himself trying to reunite with pregnant former girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui); it feels like a weak attempt to rehash something the show already did. Vinnie's driver, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), meanwhile, attempts to strike up a romance with MMA fighter Ronda Rousey (stiffly portraying herself). This is supposed to be funny, yet there's not much point to it other than to have an excuse for him to get into the ring with her. Vinnie's washed-up actor brother, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), has half a good story thread, as his role in the big movie threatens to be cut. Sadly, this gets sidetracked by a dumb detour involving a sex tape. Entourage also tries to squeeze in material related to Ari's troubled marriage and the same-sex wedding of his former assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee). Only the latter comes to any sort of conclusion – not that it matters, given how little time is spent developing it.

There are lots of celebrity cameos in Entourage, several of them admittedly funny. (Kelsey Grammer proves to be the MVP in this regard.) The chemistry between the main actors also remains as palpable as it ever was. A movie screen is much different than a TV screen, though. To make the transition, there needs to be a bigger story with bigger stakes. Entourage would have been much better served to not only focus on Vinnie's arc, but also to expand it, to go even deeper down the rabbit hole of present-day motion picture financing. When there are so many examples of “big” movies being undone by the desire to maximize profits – Cameron Crowe's Aloha being the most recent – there was room for satiric brilliance here. Instead, the weaker elements keep intruding.

Entourage is certainly satisfactory viewing for anyone who enjoyed the show. But let's keep it real: the movie will play better and more naturally on HBO than it does in a cinema.

( 1/2 out of four)

Blu-Ray Features:

Own Entourage The Movie on Digital HD now or Own it on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on September 29!

Entourage arrives on DVD, Blu-Ray combo pack, and Digital HD on September 29. There are quite a few bonus features included on the Blu-Ray.

“The Gang – Still Rockin' It” (14 minutes) reunites the five main cast members, along with series creator Doug Ellin, to reflect back on Entourage's success, the show's roots in reality, and some of the most challenging scenes to shoot. They also discuss the public's reaction to the characters, as well as the program's underlying theme of brotherhood. “Hollywood, Baby!” (8 minutes) focuses on how the opulent Hollywood lifestyle was captured for the film, with emphasis on the yachts and cars used. Incorporation of real-life celebs in cameo roles is included, too. Adrian Grenier wisely points out that a big part of the show's success has always been that audience members can live this lifestyle vicariously. You can see how much care was put into making that possible.

“The Making of Hyde” (5 minutes) is a fake behind-the-scenes documentary detailing Vinnie Chase's directorial debut. It's a further bit of sly Entourage parody.

Next up are eighteen minutes of deleted scenes, most of which are longer versions of already existing scenes. Still, you get more of the celebrity cameos, a longer look at Hyde, and extra footage of Ari being interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Golden Globes red carpet. That's followed up by a three-minute gag reel (not as funny as you'd think), and two separate segments dedicated to the fact that Ellin put his own son in the show and movie as Ari's kid.

The Blu-Ray extras are generally quite good, and will certainly please Entourage fans. The film feels right at home on disc and is worth checking out if you were a viewer of the series.

Entourage is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.

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