Watching Entourage was one of the most enjoyable movie experiences I’ve had this year. The alternate-reality, based-on-real-life Hollywood world created by HBO series creator Doug Ellin– told through the trials and tribulations of A-list movie star Vince Chase, his Queens, New York crew of bros, and superstar agent Ari Gold– provides an entertaining combination of satire, celebrity cameos, and a surprisingly engaging story about the pros and cons of success in the movie business.
As a feminist, I realize that I am in the minority here. By now countless reviewers have criticized Entourage for its offensive sexism and unapologetic embrace of hetero masculinity.
Keep in mind, this is a movie about four men. The first line of Entourage is, “I might have to jerk it before we even get there,” uttered by Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) en route to Vincent Chase’s yacht party off Ibiza, as he scopes out, through binoculars, the supermodel-esque bikini clad women partying on deck.
If this outlandish line comes off as pervy and totally inappropriate, that’s because it’s meant to be. If the movie portrays its four male characters as immature, sex-obsessed, and vulgar, that’s because they are written that way. And if this offends you and makes you despise the Entourage universe, that’s fine. Entourage has always been a raunchy comedy series, spawned from the early 2000’s era when HBO and Showtime were churning out dirty and controversial comedies involving opulent Americans and their many sexcapades (think Sex and the City and Californication). Therefore it’s a shame Ellin’s long-anticipated film version comes out the year everyone (i.e the media) has been addressing legitimate issues of institutionalized sexism, sexual objectification, homophobia, and white male-dominated social structures.
If these social issues have preoccupied your consciousness recently, then yes, it may be hard to sit back and enjoy the blatant displays of male horniness and cluelessness in Entourage. But the film version makes it entirely apparent that its characters’ behavior is not to be revered and applauded, but ridiculed and mocked. Having sifted through the outraged reviews by writers who deem Entourage “misogynistic”, “homophobic”, and “chauvinistic”, it remains shocking to me that so many self-purported intelligent and socially conscious film reviewers and opinion writers honestly believe that Vinnie and the boys are meant to serve as legitimate role models for our current “bro” culture”.
If anything, Entourage shows us that bro culture is on the wane. Virtually every action committed by E (Eric), Turtle, and Drama towards women are played up for mockery and laughs. When Eric (Kevin Connolly) is caught having sex in Turtle’s bedroom, we laugh not because E is a powerful rich man “using” a sexy young woman, but because he is completely unable to control his juvenile impulses after having been dumped by his beautiful, pregnant girlfriend Sloan (Emanuelle Chriqui). When Drama advises Vince, “Fun is when you forget a girl’s name while you’re fucking her,” it’s funny because this tidbit of brotherly wisdom comes from Drama himself, a perpetual failure not only in relationships, but in his own career. When Drama said this, the theater in which I sat erupted in laughter, because it taps into the absurdity of male sexual impulses and experiences. Women are represented (almost to an overtly obvious extent on the writers’ part) as assertive, cool, confident, and independently successful persons, whether they are high-powered studio executives like Dana Gordon (Contance Zimmer), Sports Illustrated supermodels like Emily Ratajkowski, or opinionated wives and homemakers like Melissa Gold (Perrey Reeves).
Now that I’ve defended Entourage from the trove of politically-correct haters who disparaged it, I’d like to address the question: Is the movie any good? Going in, I expected the movie to be boring and completely devoid of plot and characterization. How wrong I was! Yes, there is a plot, and it’s centered upon every Hollywood agent’s worst nightmare: movie star Vince (Adrian Grenier) informing Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who has come out of retirement, that he will only star in his first big studio picture if he can direct it. Cut to expensive opening credits and terrible opening song. Eight months later, Vince is finishing up his film, a high-budget, futuristic movie no one has seen yet called Hyde. For fans of the show, this could go only two ways: complete failure or complete success. In the Hollywood circuit of Entourage, there is no middle road.
Ari reluctantly agrees to fly to Texas to convince one of the film financiers, billionaire Larsen McCredle (an always brilliant Billy Bob Thornton) and his buffoonish son Travis (a solid Hayley Joel Osment) to give them more money. In order to do that, Vince must show Travis the movie during a fancy Hollywood party held at Turtle’s house, who, as an ongoing joke, has inexplicably become the richest member of the crew through his own brand of tequila sales.
Similar to the series, this plot line is interspersed with each character’s varied storyline: Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) struggles to woe his dream girl, martial artist Ronda Rousey, whose character is one of the more genuine and complex female characters we have seen in the Entourage universe. Eric, having become somewhat of a loser in the romance department, suffers an identity crisis at the notion of becoming a father. And of course, Drama can’t seem to snag his break-out role and is repeatedly undermined and humiliated through a string of unfortunate events. Another surprisingly humanistic aspect of the film is Kevin Dillon’s emotional delivery as Drama slips into depression.
Vince Chase doesn’t have much of a story-line, but as my best guy-friend pointed out, he never was very interesting in the show either. His character is definitely the most underwritten, deliberately so, as he stands in the backdrop of the life of his “bros”. But by far the most fascinating and funny scenes revolve around Ari Gold; his impassioned manic outbursts with co-workers, employers, and wife, and his singular objective of winning as he vacillates between extremes of jubilation, rage, fear, and sadness (Piven won a Golden Globe and three consecutive Emmys for his role as Ari Gold through his use of the acting technique commedia dell’arte).
Without spoiling the movie, the film ends on a compassionate and good-natured note by presenting us with a romantic and beautiful gay wedding. If anything is offensive, it’s the portrayal of Texans as socially awkward, insane, gun-totting simpletons (at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin where I saw Entourage, the audience remained dead silent during the Texas jokes, particularly when Ari says, “Do you know what they do to Jews in Texas?”). But as Billy Bob Thornton’s character gets the last word in at Ari at the end, even the movie’s elitist, Coastal prejudice can be forgiven. Entourage is a humorous satirical take on the Industry, and proves to be a heartfelt coming-of-age saga on brotherhood, friendship, and family.