The Entourage movie begins as no episode did: with a teaser. It's the only scene that feels big-screen-level grand, albeit appropriately so, before we cut to a revamped version of the opening credits. You've heard it described as such from everyone, like myself, who's seen an advance showing of the movie, but that's because it rings so true—Entourage: the Movie, is quite literally, three episodes strung together. And that's a good thing. Often the transition from small to big screen gets awkward because the cast and crew inevitably, over-rise to the challenge. Sticking to what works in the living room and making it feel appropriate in a theater is a delicate thing, and pulling it off is probably the film's crowning achievement.
Let's ignore the Entourage detractors altogether—if they wrote the show off as mind-numbing, sun-soaked, celebrity-adorned wish fulfillment (as many critics do), then the fact that they've pulled the bro-skewering pitchforks out isn't even deserving of a sarcastic "shocker!" The debate raging between fans is much more ripe for commentary. There's a schism, it would seem, between the nostalgic viewer for whom four years is long enough time to welcome Vince, Ari, Turtle, Drama and even E back with open, inscrutable arms; and then there's the sect who wished the film aspired to more, to achieve the perfect balance of satire, bro-y humor, celebrity-hey-that-guy fun, and everything-works-out deus ex machina of I don't know, say, the show's unanimously agreed upon peak, Season 2. So where do I stand, as both a day oner, at times defender of the show, and a guy who found the final season and series finale largely disappointing? Well, I'm somewhere in the middle.
A week after I watched the movie I spoke with Doug Ellin, who told me he rewatched the early season episodes in an attempt to recapture their vibe. To that end he succeeds. As it turns out, nearly 100 episodes supersedes a three year break—the gang hasn't lost a step, and their banter, particularly an in-the-pocket Johnny Drama, coasts on nostalgia and then blows right past it. Unfortunately, the stakes don't begin to match the likes of landing the lead in a James Cameron movie or wriggling free of studio constraints to make a passion project or fighting to regain relevance after a huge, public L. It's true: if you're watching Entourage for the stakes, you're in the wrong place.
And yet, the saga of Vincent Chase, burgeoning auteur as presented in the movie, still falls admittedly flat for several reasons. As an antagonist, Haley Joel Osment's rich Texan hick is especially cartoonish, and that's before his exceedingly simple motivations are revealed. Then there's the elephant in the room which is that, as played by Adrian Grenier, every glimpse of Vince's alleged talent has never seemed particularly strong. The show works just fine when it plays to that ambiguity, or even suggests he's successful in lieu of it. It works a lot less when the plot directly hinges on said suss talent. The big screen element appears to have gassed Ellin to double down on the wish fulfillment with a final scene that borders on ridiculous. (SPOILER: It's fine if Vince's DJ Dr. Jekyll or whatever movie racks up box office records, but pretending a film like that would make it to the Globes? As a real contender? More than a bit much.) That's quickly forgiven, though, by the very last [pre-credits] shot, a victory eight seasons in the making.
And it's that sentiment that makes the film a worthy watch for any of the show's fans. On the character element, there are flaws too. Did a four-year break make Doug think it was OK to put us through E and Sloan's bullshit once again? He was wrong. But at least it gives way to classic single-E hijinks for Drama and Turtle to play peanut gallery for. Super fans will catch slight but welcome nods like Drama studying another guy's calves. Ari is so extremely Ari that his antics threaten to fall into self-parody. And Turtle chasing famous women out of his league and letting Drama get in his head is the best kind of Turtle (a quick ascent into Vince's tax bracket marks the welcome end of struggle small-businessman Turtle). Drama is smug, until he is humiliated—all of this has happened before, all of it will happen again.
If you wanted more from this movie, you're not wrong for asking. And defending it and the show, as being nothing more than the surface treats—rich trappings, cameos, bad women, great music—it offers is wrongly dismissive of its best years, which offered much more. But it is possible to watch the Entourage movie with a twinge of disappointment and a big smile. If anything, I felt much more content during these 90 minutes than during the last 90 minutes of season 8. "Victory?!" Maybe not, but still a damn fun effort.