I could barely contain my excitement. They had made an Entourage movie. About time.
The cult show dedicated to the film industry, mateship and Hollywood had inevitably capitalised on eight successful HBO seasons and made the jump to Hollywood themselves. The movie picks up right where the series left off – movie star and original Aquaman Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) is making yet another movie, with the help of entourage and childhood friends E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and elder, less successful brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon, brother to Matt Dillon). Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), the vociferous agent whose swear jar could fund an orphanage, is now studio head and loving it.
The boys are back! For eight years dedicated fans (myself included) watched the show, based on Mark Wahlberg’s life, about a bunch of best friends living the dream in movie-land, meeting supermodels, taking weekday trips to Vegas and doing stuff you can only do if you’re a movie star. Millions loved it – it was unadulterated fantasy about a world only glimpsed through entertainment channels, tabloids and the occasional celebrity you might run into on the street, rooted in an unbreakable bond between four childhood best friends.
The movie is no different – we get but a glimpse into Vince’s life, with cameos from Liam Neeson, Gary Busey, Bob Saget, Jessica Alba and a whole heap of the show’s stalwarts. Johnny tries for his big break, Turtle meets UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, E gets into all sorts of trouble and Vince directs a movie for the first time, clashing with Texas father-and-son financiers (Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment).
There are a myriad of other storylines, some are followed through, some are left hanging, while some things just happen and never come up again. And that’s all we have come to expect – the episodes were never a straight narrative, there wasn’t always a beginning, middle and end. We are getting a glimpse into their lives, a small glimpse and we’re just along for the ride.
This particular insight takes place a few months after the show ends and plays like an extended episode (series intro included) with enough in-jokes and celebrity cameos to have fans drooling. A love letter to the faithful, the movie will never be as engaging for those unfamiliar with the characters, with so much of its story rooted in their universe.
For those who haven’t seen the show, you may not get all the gags but the story and premise are still instantly relatable and appealing – best friends trying to make it and having some fun along the way. I went with a friend who hadn’t watched the show, she and the others there didn’t need to have seen Johnny’s Bananas or Medellin to enjoy being a part of Vinnie’s entourage for two hours.
In one pivotal scene, Ari rants at a room full of studio executives about his boy Vinnie, screaming “That’s what civilians want” – they want the movie star to get the girl and live the life, and that’s what the show, and the movie are all about.
The film ends much as the series did – abruptly, with some story strands awkwardly tied up, others hinted at, others unresolved. We only get a glimpse into the dream, an altogether satisfying one which will leave many fans craving more.