Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since we’ve seen Vinny Chase and the boys. When last we caught up with them, Vince was preparing to embark on a very impromptu marriage; the future was looking fairly bright for Drama with Johnny’s Bananas finally getting off the ground and a starring role in a TV movie on the horizon; Turtle was ready to live the good life after becoming a millionaire; and E seemed destined to play happy families with long time love interest Sloan.
Yet, there was something inexplicably dissatisfying about how Entourage ended. The finale felt rushed and unnatural, as if it were just an obligatory stop off on the way to a greater goal. This was only emphasized further by the post-credits scene that left everybody’s favourite agent, Ari Gold, agonising over whether or not to accept the offer of running his own studio.
So if you were one of the legions of fans worldwide who loved the show as much as I did, then the chances are you will agree that this movie has felt a long time coming. After various delays and rumours and production problems, it was a huge relief when a release date was eventually announced for this summer. But it still left one major concern: would this at last provide the ending that both we the viewers and the characters themselves deserved? And thankfully the answer is yes! It most certainly does.
If you didn’t like the series or have never seen it, then it’s highly likely that you won’t get much out of this movie. However, if you spent years invested in the ups and downs of the lives of these four companions from Queens and their temperamental but kind-hearted executive sidekick, then it’s going to feel like a very welcome reunion with some sorely missed old friends.
The story picks up almost immediately after the events of the finale. After wisely brushing an ill-advised plot point from the last season under the rug with a couple of throwaway sentences in the first few minutes, things take off with a delightfully nostalgic opening title sequence. From here, it’s full steam ahead as a plethora of narrative threads begin to unfold to cause plenty of – if you’ll pardon the pun – drama for our protagonists to deal with.
There’s actually quite a lot going on for a cinematic outing that only clocks in at about a hundred minutes. This is essentially less of a movie and more of a ninth season condensed into a relatively short run time. And that works just fine. While non-fans and film enthusiasts may take issue with the fact, this really wasn’t made for them. This is for the followers of a show who have been crying out for closure for close to half a decade. So in that respect, cramming in so many plot lines couldn’t have worked better.
In fact, it has the advantage of shedding the usual padding that can make TV arcs seem drawn out and monotonous on the way to their ultimate climax. Rather, Entourage gives everyone something with which to play and keeps the ball rolling at a quick and compelling pace. And much like during the series itself, we feel the trials and triumphs of the characters as things go from good to bad and back again countless times before the credits roll. It actually manages to create a lot of tension and suspense in this regard as you’re kept on the edge of your seat praying that it’s all going to work out well by the time the curtain closes.
That being said, it’s far from overly dramatic or downbeat. One of the biggest missteps of the latter seasons was the amount of conflict and turmoil between the protagonists. Their camaraderie was always what made Entourage worth watching and there is certainly no shortage of it in this movie. All of the fun and feel good moments that defined the show’s finest hours are prevalent throughout. While each of the main characters are given their own strife and struggles to tackle, there is no hint of any internal discord. There’s only loyalty and friendship, which is both gratifying and refreshing.
Each of the actors slip seamlessly back into their roles too, maintaining their wonderful chemistry and delivering performances that are true to who their characters are.
Adrien Grenier’s portrayal of group guide Vincent Chase is optimistic as ever. At this point it seems we may rest assured that no matter how bad things may look for him, Vince’s charm and charisma will always bring him back to the top.
Kevin Connolly manages to exhibit a more mature side to the often uptight Eric Murphy. E seems a lot more relaxed and content, at least in respect to his relationships with the other guys and his career, which is definitely nice to see.
Jerry Ferrara continues to win viewers over as lovable every-man turned entrepreneur Salvatore “Turtle” Assante. His lighthearted romantic subplot with UFC fighter Ronda Rousey ends up being one of the most entertaining aspects of the movie.
Unsurprisingly though, it’s Kevin Dillon’s Johnny “Drama” Chase and Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold who steal the show once again. Dillon is still brilliant as Vince’s fiery but devout half-brother. The actor is characteristically hilarious and over the top as he spouts ridiculous one-liners and perfectly conveys the wide range of emotions through which Drama goes on his way to the finish line.
Likewise, Piven’s portrayal of the eccentric agent turned studio head is typically turbulent. If you thought that Ari had finally escaped the stress of the movie business when he absconded to Italy, you may think again. He also gets an admirable hero moment in the final act that feels like an appropriate way to bring his character full circle, while emphasizing his position as the fifth member of the entourage.
There are plenty of other familiar faces who return as well, with old favourites such as Lloyd, Billy Walsh, Sloan, Shauna, Dana Gordon and Melissa Gold all popping in to say hello. They’re joined by some new additions too, the most notable of which is Haley Joel Osmont’s smarmy son of a benefactor, Travis McCredle. The fact that the character is absolutely abhorrent every time he appears on screen is a testament to how good of a job Osmont does in portraying just how petty and vindictive the young heir is. Then, of course, there’s the usual string of celebrity cameos, some of which work, some of which don’t. Although, it just wouldn’t feel like Entourage without them.
This movie truly is the perfect love letter to fans of the show. There’s no point pretending that it’s meant as anything else and that is in no way a problem. Which isn’t to say that you definitely won’t enjoy it if you’ve never seen the series, just that you probably won’t appreciate it as much. And while it’s by no means a flawless film nor even the best story in the history of Entourage, it succeeds in doing exactly what was needed; it provides an extremely satisfactory conclusion to the decade long saga of Vincent Chase and his club of close comrades.
Rating: Assigning marks out of ten for this one is difficult because there are really two ways in which to judge it. Looking upon it strictly as a movie and a tale unto itself, it deserves a healthy 7/10. However, in terms of wrapping up a long running TV show and serving as fitting send-off to a crowd of beloved characters, it’s a definite 10/10 finale.
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