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Friday, June 5, 2015

Entourage 2015 * * * Stars

EntourageDirector: Doug Ellin
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara

I have never viewed the TV show Entourage. But after taking in the movie that it's based on (with the same title), I now want to purchase seasons 1-8 at the local Best Buy. This 104 minute vehicle with its boatload of cameos (most of them are pretty zany), is a lot of fun. What's on screen is cool and confident, frenzied and foul. It's one of the few times where the bait and switch of the trailer actually delivers. With popcorn and soda in hand, I laughed out loud in bunches seeing Hollywood expose itself, wink in spite of itself, and sort of make fun of its own celebritorium. The setting being the whole Southern Californian landscape, thumbed its nose in the fact that people like me (who live in cold, blustery Illinois), can't enjoy 365 days of gleaming sunshine and bikini-clad woman who grow on trees. And after seeing Entourage with its bromance interludes, crude humor, and insider, L.A. brandishing, I wanted to pack up my stuff and drive 2000 miles to join the party. Oh did I mention there's a scene where Haley Joel Osment is in a hotel room with 2 hookers and plenty of hard liquor. Cole Sear, we hardly knew ya!

Directed by the same guy who helmed the famed HBO successor (Doug Ellin), shot with the notion that no one walks around L.A. (almost no one), and featuring a scene where UFC fighter Rhonda Rousey breaks a character's arm to show some tough love affection, Entourage chronicles movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). He has his quote unquote "entourage" following him around while he directs his first feature film titled Hyde. His boys consists of Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and his brother, Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon). Eric is producing said film, Turtle is just along for the ride (naturally, he's their driver), and "Drama" is playing a pivotal role pertinent to Hyde's success. Then, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) comes into the picture. He's the studio head for Chase's baby and he's Chase's former agent. Based on problems with the budget, Gold has reservations about getting things primed for a future big box office hit. He's strapped for extra money that Vince needs to complete the final cut (visually). His mission: Fly to Texas and ask for this extra moola from two wealthy financiers (played respectably by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment). As expected, most of the ins and outs of Tinseltown are on display here. Everybody just wants to have fun and the vibe of Entourage constantly becomes more intoxicating. An ex-girlfriend of mine who used to live in La La land, told me that all anybody does out there is talk about movies and secure movie deals. Boy she wasn't kidding.

In retrospect, if you're an Entourage TV show junkie, I'm not sure whether you'll like the film or not because I can't speak for you (I've never caught one iota of it on the perennial boob tube). However, if you're not a fan of said show or have never even seen one episode, well you'll still have a heck of a good time following these four likable (and sometimes unlikable) city dwellers.

Now if it's cameos (they were mentioned earlier) that you want, Entourage has got em' in bulk. The ones in the Anchorman movies seem more like parodies and are mere child's play in comparison. You've got Liam Neeson  flipping the bird at Ari (from his car nearing a stoplight), you've got T.I. at a hospital complaining about all the children he's about to father (ha ha), you've got a balding Andrew Dice Clay getting his swerve on at a screening party, and you can't complete the guest appearance ring without George Takei (aka Lt. Commander Sulu) playing a priest that oversees a wedding ceremony. This is just the tip of the iceberg because there's many more bit parts to go around (during this flick, it seemed that celebrities just popped up everywhere. I get starstruck so I'm wondering if this is really what goes down in the uppity corners via the city of angels).

Anyway, the TV show Sex and the City tried to pull off the whole HBO network hit-transitioning-to-movie thing and it just came off as boring and overlong. Nothing against those four talented women. I would just rather follow these A to B-listers anywhere and at anytime (that's all). Bottom line: Go see Entourage. It's a refreshing summer expedition, it's harmless, and it's sort of a more commercial, more extravagant version of Swingers (which is referenced in yet another cameo). The result: 3 stars.

Of note: About ten years ago when I first moved to Chicago, an old buddy of mine hung out with Jeremy Piven at a Cubs game (Piven is an Evanston, Illinois native). He was really drunk, didn't know said buddy from Adam, and acted almost the same as he does in all of his movies (fast-talking with an enormous gift of gab). How do I know all this? Well my friend (whose name I won't mention) caught the whole thing on his Smartphone (before the whole YouTube craze began). As I viewed Jeremy's funny and restless antics, I figured that he was always in character and brought his work home with him. This was a pretty surreal moment if I do say so myself.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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