I don't watch a ton of television, but I reserve Sunday nights for unwinding and zoning out to just about anything. That's my only excuse for following Entourage—Mark Wahlberg's semiautobiographical sitcom about an A-list movie star and his three buddies—for its entire eight seasons, long after I'd stopped laughing at it and grown embarrassed by its puerile fantasy world of limitless wealth and models hastening to blow you. The series focused so much on sexual escapades, romantic relationships, and business maneuvers that you could never get a sense of the actual movies being made by toothsome lothario Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). That may have been just as well because, from the posters and mock clips included, they all looked terrible: the portentous mean-streets drama Queens Boulevard, the overbudget drug-smuggling epic Medellin, the firefighter bromance Smoke Jumpers. Why was this guy the hero again?
Nearly four years after the series concluded, Entourage hits the big screen and Vince makes his directing debut. But as often occurred on the series, writer-director Doug Ellin skips the film's production entirely, and no sooner has Vince embarked on his new creative adventure than the movie is in the can and the only question remaining is whether he and studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) can secure more financing from a Texas backer (Billy Bob Thornton) to complete the special effects. The project this time sounds especially stupid: a modern-day update of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Vince as the title character and his goofball older brother, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), in a supporting role. There's a brief, disorienting montage sequence from the movie, with Hyde as a club DJ, and everyone who sees the director's cut pronounces it "amazing." But the billionaire's spoiled son (Haley Joel Osment), dispatched to Tinseltown to rein in the moviemakers, announces that Johnny Drama must be excised from the movie or the bank closes.
That works well enough as a story line, since Entourage has always celebrated loyalty above all: the four guys, raised together in Queens, always stick together no matter what, and Ari Gold, in the series' most durable joke, refuses to cheat on his wife despite endless sexual temptation. But the characters are already played out, and the hedonism has lost its charm. After a while, you expect a tale of the movie business to tell you something about the movies as well as the business, but Ellin and company have never had anything to say about that. On Entourage, the cinema is just something people do in the dark when they're not on top of some starlet. v