3.5 out of 4 stars
Deep down, what man wouldn’t want to be Vincent Chase? He’s handsome, a movie star and filthy rich.
In guy-speak, that’s the “Holy Trinity.”
For eight seasons on HBO’s Entourage, it was Vince’s world, where he spent his days making blockbuster movies and his nights hooking up with hotties like his key to the Playboy Mansion depended on it.
But he didn’t embark on his journey alone, nor did he want to. Vince (Adrian Grenier) took his three buddies from Queens — his lame wannabe actor brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), his Sbarro-managing best friend-turned-personal manager Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly) and his fat marijuana-smoking buddy Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) with him, turning Tinseltown into their town.
Tom Cruise. Matt Damon. Ben Affleck. Liam Neeson. Dwayne Johnson. All big stars — but how many members of their entourages can you name?
But Vince’s willingness to share his Double-D lifestyle with his friends is what drew audiences to Entourage — and what will draw the show’s fans to theaters when the movie with the same name opens nationwide.
It’s been four years since Entourage’s eighth season ended, when Vince was about to be married, Eric was about to be a dad, Turtle had just made millions in a business deal with Mark Cuban and Drama was well, just being dumbass Drama.
Vince’s marriage lasted nine days, so of course he’s partying on a yacht off the coast of Spain filled with half-naked women when his three pals arrive in the first scene of the movie. Vince calls Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), his foul-mouthed agent who is now running a major motion picture studio.
Ari has good news: Vince is going to star in Hyde, a $100 million film. Vince has some of his own: He’s also going to make his directorial debut, names Eric as producer and Drama as a supporting actor. What could possibly go wrong?
Though the movie is based on making sure Hyde doesn’t become the next Waterworld, it’s how the characters’ complementary conflicts are woven into the 104-minute film that make it enjoyable. While Eric is waiting for the birth of his first child with ex-girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), he’s sleeping with every model he can get his hands on. Meantime, Turtle — and his slimmed-down body — tries to date UFC champion Ronda Rousey and Vince has selected his new dating flavor of the month, model Emily Ratajkowski. Oh, and Drama’s still trying to convince everyone he’s not a complete loser.
Ari is still the same old Ari, using his brazen approach to navigate the studio’s politics, attend couple’s therapy with his wife (Perrey Reeves), and convince Texan Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) to continue financing Chase’s over-budgeted film.
McCredle sends his uncouth son Travis, who is played by Haley Joel Osment — yes, that guy who said “I see dead people” in 1999’s The Sixth Sense and we haven’t heard him utter a word since — back to Hollywood with Ari to see if Hyde is worth the investment.
Give Doug Ellin — the movie’s director who also created and directed the TV show — for deftly using a cast of seven strong characters without making it seem like they’re fighting for face time. Ellin’s story flows effectively because he blends the use of more than 40 celebrity cameos — from rapper T.I. to New England quarterback Tom Brady to billionaire Warren Buffet — to keep the audience captivated, just like he did when Entourage has a half-hour show.
Entourage isn’t so much a movie as it is the next season of Entourage, but it’s a welcome break from what Hollywood has been doing for decades: rebooting no longer running TV series and repackaging them with with new stars and directors. Last time I checked, Tom Cruise wasn’t on Mission: Impossible in the 1960s and 70s, and Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill weren’t on 21 Jump Street in the 1980s.
But Entourage on the big screen works as it did on TV because the whole cast, including Ellin and producer Mark Wahlberg, returned.
It took Vince and his crew eight seasons to leave an indelible mark on Hollywood as a TV show.
By week’s end, they’ll have leave an even bigger impression on the box office.
And in a few years from now, just when you thought you’ve seen the last of Turtle getting high or Drama being a buffoon, the boys from Queens will be back.
After all, this is Hollywood.
And every good movie gets a sequel.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 18 years experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He’s also an editor for CBSSports.com. He’s crossing his fingers the only baseball team in Baltimore that will contend for a title this summer won’t be his fantasy squad, the Catonsville Cartel. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.