Entourage, the movie continuation of the TV program, does as little as it must to justify its existence.
Ending a television show is hard; resurrecting a finished series for a film follow-on is easy. Where the former is saddled with wrapping up years of storylines, demonstrating character progression and staying true to all that has passed before while leaving fans happy with the reality that there's no more to come, the latter can take the template of a typical episode, massage it to feature-length running time, and bring back the usual cast of familiar faces to recycle tried-and-tested jokes.
So we have Entourage, the movie continuation of the TV program that ended its eight-season run in 2011, and a movie that does as little as it must to justify its existence. Those boys from Queens turned Tinseltown hang-abouts that small-screen viewers will know are back, and they're up to their usual lavish antics while living in the lap of luxury. That'd be famous actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier, Teenage Paparazzo), his wannabe star brother Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon, How To Be A Gentleman), childhood best friend turned manager Eric (Kevin Connolly, Friends With Better Lives), and fellow lifelong buddy Turtle (Jerry Ferrara, Lone Survivor) – plus Vincent's long-term agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, Mr Selfridge), who is now the head of a studio.
Entourage, the series, ostensibly followed the ups and downs of Vince's career, so it should come as little surprise that Entourage, the film, does the same thing. Both also chart the intrusion of his personal life on his professional dealings, including the influence of his ever-present posse of pals, and the ire the laid-back band of brothers causes forever-angry powerbroker Ari. This time, Vince's directorial debut dictates the action, specifically the need to convince a Texan financier (Billy Bob Thornton, The Judge) and his son (Haley Joel Osment, Tusk) to provide more money to bring the dystopian DJ project to completion. When the tussle over cash isn't monopolising attention, Eric struggles with his love life, Turtle stumbles in his romantic pursuit of UFC champion Ronda Rousey (Fast & Furious 7), and the hapless Drama continues to dream big while causing embarrassment.
Little time may have elapsed in the world of the narrative, with the feature first picking up mere days after the series left off; however times have changed around creator/producer/writer/director Doug Ellin. If his brand of hedonistic Hollywood comedy was funny once, simultaneously skewering and embracing the entertainment industry while fictionalising the real-life exploits of actor Mark Wahlberg, it proves lacking in laughs now. Not that the filmmaker, whose last movie was 1998's Kissing a Fool, appears to be putting in much in the way of effort. When Entourage isn't rehashing its TV heyday, it's taking mere seconds to parade around topless women and then maintaining that objectifying mindset, and filling every spare frame with a fancy car, an extravagant party and a celebrity cameo (featuring many well-known names who popped up on the small screen version, a spate of current actors, models, musicians and sportsmen, and even Wahlberg himself).
A formula for a good film, this isn't; instead, it's déjà vu combined with four-years-too-late fan service, then simplified and glorified even further for the unacquainted. The been-there, done-that machinations of the plot are absent tension, interest and the ability to evoke any sense of investment, the storyline dissipating with every passing scene – but Entourage wasn't ever really about drama anyway. It wasn't ever about slick production values, either, even if superficiality resounds through both its themes and its aesthetics; nor was it about standout performances, though Dillon and Piven again have the most to work with purely by virtue of playing the most outlandish characters. When it debuted eleven years ago, Entourage was about nothing more than celebrating and indulging the fantasy of the star lifestyle, as filtered through the trials and tribulations of male bonding. That's all this slapped-together big-screen reunion special is now, too.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Director: Doug Ellin
USA, 2015, 104 mins
Release date: June 4