Entourage: The boys are back ... and as sexist as ever
CAN the Entourage movie rise above being mere fan service? Or does it risk becoming another Sex and the City 2? Chris Schulz finds out.
FAN service has a lot to answer for. Like that woeful fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix. Or for letting shows like The X-Files, Prison Break and Nurse Jackie run way past their due date.
And how about that second Sex and the City film? You only need ask local comedians and The Worst Idea of All Time podcast hosts Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt how barrel-scrapingly awful that one is.
The Entourage movie is total fan service - but in the best possible way. Just like the show's eight-season run on HBO, it glides by in a glitzy, easily-digestible package of in-jokes, celebrity cameos, expensive cars and parties in Hollywood mansions.
Entourage offers the ultimate in male escapism: Vincent Chase and his boys Eric, Turtle and Johnny Drama, do exactly what most men would imagine themselves doing if they were in their situation.
Despite the dated concept, the movie doesn't mess with that formula.
Yes, it manages to cram in nearly ever character from the show's eight season HBO run - even bit players like Gary Busey and Bob Saget playing weird, exaggerated versions of themselves.
Yes, it remains outrageously sexist, relegating strong female characters that balanced Entourage's epic bro-downs out - Perrey Reeves as Ari Gold's wife Melissa, Debi Mazar as feisty agent Shauna - to woefully small sideline roles. Right from the opening scenes as Chase celebrates the end of his nine-day marriage with topless models in Ibiza, Entourage's women are there merely as decoration.
And yes, the plot feels little different to any one of the show's eight seasons: Chase wants to do a movie that he probably shouldn't, there are issues with producers and financiers, girls cause the boys problems, but they've all got each others' backs and it all works out in the end.
Yet, to borrow words from Chase early on in the film: "It doesn't suck." It's funny, with many of the cameos - like Kelsey Grammer's rant after a therapy session, Jessica Alba complaining about a director who keeps Instagramming her butt, and rapper TI riffing on vasectomies - delivering laugh-out-loud lines.
There are stand out performers, like Jeremy Piven's career-making turn as Gold, chewing up scenery with his bipolar outbursts and incendiary critiques. Seeing him punch a photo of a kitten midway through a therapy session is one of the film's highlights - even if Piven has competition from Billy Bob Thornton as a Texan movie money man this time around.
Best of all, the chemistry between the leads remains intact - despite the four year gap between the end of the show and this. Some of Entourage's best bits are its simplest ones: Vince, Eric, Turtle and Drama walking around Hollywood, driving through Beverly Hills, or eating together, talking a mile a minute, constantly one-upping each other and giving each other grief.
Boys, Entourage tells us, will always be boys. Women might not always be welcome, but there's still something comforting about that.
Director: Doug Ellin
Starring: Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, Haley Joel Osment, Billy Bob Thornton
Rating: R16 - Sex scenes, nudity, drug use & offensive language
Time: 104 minutes
Verdict: The boys are back ... and as sexist as ever