[Screen It]


(2015) (Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon) (R)

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Comedy: The continuing misadventures of a major movie star, his half-brother, and two childhood friends as they navigate the sin and temptations of Hollywood.
Vince Chase (ADRIAN GRENIER) is a recently divorced major movie star looking to take his career to the next level. When his former agent, Ari Gold (JEREMY PIVEN), becomes a studio head, he convinces him to bankroll his next star vehicle and allow him to direct it. The supremely confident Ari, eager to hit a proverbial home run in his first at-bat, agrees and puts together the financing for the film by calling on a rich Texan named Larsen McCredle (BILLY BOB THORNTON) and his unstable son, Travis (HALEY JOEL OSMENT).

Vince quickly reassembles his old entourage, a support circle that includes: Eric (KEVIN CONNOLLY), a childhood friend from Queens who serves as his manager and producer of the new film; Turtle (JERRY FERRARA), another childhood friend who has served as his long-time driver and enabler; and Johnny "Drama" (KEVIN DILLON), his older half-brother who went to Hollywood before him, but has found only moderate success as a C-list actor.

Matters are complicated when Larsen sends Travis to Tinseltown to check up on their $100 million investment. He falls for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Emily Ratajkowski (HERSELF), who has eyes for Vince instead. Travis takes it out on the film, demanding edits and re-shoots which sends Ari -- who had promised his wife (PERREY REEVES) that he would not get stressed if he returned to the entertainment industry -- into a fit of frustration and high anxiety. At the same, Ari agrees to allow his former assistant, Lloyd (REX LEE), to use his estate as the site of his wedding to gay Olympic legend, Greg Louganis.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
Full disclosure, dear readers. I was never a fan of HBO's "Entourage." I didn't have anything against the show. I think I've watched maybe three or four episodes of the show over the years. And that was mostly due to me flipping channels and happening across a sex scene in progress. The show had plenty of them. "Entourage" just was never in my wheelhouse, especially in its early years while I was raising my little girl and our DVR was full of "The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," "Handy Manny," "SpongeBob Squarepants," and "Full House" reruns.

But I had at least a passing familiarity with the characters and situations heading into my recent preview screening of the big-screen continuation of the show. It's not like the series isn't up my alley, as it's about Hollywood, the movie biz, and a group of dudes looking to score with Sports Illustrated swimsuit models and porn stars. Had I had more time for adult-oriented TV programming in the 2000s, I like to think I had more in common with this show than "The Wire."

As a relative newbie, I can say that the movie version of "Entourage" is entertaining and fairly easy to follow with just a basic familiarity of the characters and personalities. It's total male wish-fulfillment fantasy. It's not deep. It won't give you new insight into the human condition. And you won't come away a better person. But it has laughs, it's confident it what it is and what it isn't, it's extremely well-paced, and it has a ton of entertainment industry cameos ... everyone from Mark Wahlberg, Liam Neeson, and Jessica Alba to T.I., Pharrell Williams, and Andrew "Dice" Clay. The film is also loose enough to have everyone from Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson populate its peripherals throughout as exaggerated or at least slightly off-kilter versions of themselves.

Featuring one of the best opening credits sequences of the year, the film picks up where the series left off (at least according to a couple of fans who sat near me whose brains I picked before and after). Movie star Vince Chase's marriage that capped the show lasted only 12 days. He's now eager to reclaim his box-office dominance, but now he wants to direct. His former agent Ari Gold (three-time Emmy winner Jeremy Piven) is now the head of a studio, and he green-lights Vince's passion project. The actor immediately reassembles his old entourage, including half-brother and C-list actor, Johnny "Drama" (Kevin Dillon); manager and childhood friend, Eric (Kevin Connolly); and personal driver and childhood friend, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara).

Matters are complicated when Vince goes over budget, and Ari has to go crawling to the film's principal backer, Texas billionaire Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his idiot son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment). Larsen sends Travis back to Tinseltown with Ari to keep better track of their investment, and he ends up demanding edits and re-shoots. Meanwhile, Turtle, Eric, and Drama all manage to have women problems that involve everything from spurning Ronda Rousey to having sex with one too many women in a 24-hour span to a sex tape gone viral on TMZ.

If you are looking for a real Hollywood insider film a la "The Player," you'll be looking at the wrong movie. It's laughable how little time Vince spends on a movie in which he has staked his entire Hollywood career on as well as the career of Ari. The fact that the film is reportedly a modern-day dystopian sci-fi classic in the making is almost too unbelievable.

But again, this is both fantasy and a bit of satire. Everyone who stars here is so comfortable in the skin of these shallow characters, that the film glides with a confidence many other Hollywood comedies wish they had. And you're never two or three scenes away from Ari Gold reentering the picture with his hopped-up energy and his glorious putdowns and politically incorrect epithets. Wherever he turns, some big or small star is giving him the finger or hitting him up for career help. Ari just stays focused on what he wants. Piven won three Emmys for this character, and he's great here. This ensemble film might be about an entourage. But this guy is pure Gold and the main reason to see this flick, whether you were a fan of the series or not. I give it a 6 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed June 1, 2015 / Posted June 3, 2015

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