The gang is back in this big screen spinoff of the hit HBO TV series

Also opening this week:

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Rating EntourageEntourageEntourageEntourage

Directed by Doug Ellin. Starring Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Mark Wahlberg, Alice Eve, Constance Zimmer, Haley Joel Osment, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Billy Bob Thornton, Debi Mazar, Perrey Reeves, Ronda Rousey, Emily Ratajkowski. Written by Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss.

In Entourage, the movie event that everyone’s been clamoring for, Hollywood star Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier) pals around with his cronies, brother Johnny (Kevin Dillon) and friends Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Joey Ferrera, who’s shed a few pounds since the TV show last aired).

They throw lavish parties, carelessly spend money, sleep around whenever they get the chance, and generally lust after women in every scene they’re in. These are vapid, vacuous, arrogant and selfish men, driven by the most basic needs and desires, and Entourage is the male equivalent of Sex and the City

And on that level, it ain’t terrible.

The HBO TV series ran for eight seasons from 2004-2012 and resulted in this movie three years later; somebody must like it. I caught a few episodes here and there over the years but was never compelled to seek out any more.

And that’s exactly how I feel about the film, which functions as an extended episode of the series, low on action, energy, and general cinematic vision. It’s a passable timewaster, and there’s something almost charming about a film that doesn’t feel the need to raise the stakes on the big screen; if you dig it, you dig it.

Fans of the show, of course, are bound to dig it a lot more than the rest of us. 

The action in the movie picks up where the show left off: Vince’s fiancée has left him, and now he’s adrift (literally) and contemplating his future. He wants to direct.

Flash-forward some months, and Vince already has the film in the can. All the drama involved in actually making a $100 million blockbuster? That’s not interesting – let’s focus on Vince’s anxiety over showing the final cut to his producers, and his struggle to scrap up another $10 million to finish the visual effects. 

His movie is called Hyde, and it’s been bankrolled by Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince’s former agent who now runs the studio. Ari, in turn, gets his money from Texas billionaire Larsen McCredle (played surprisingly straight by Billy Bob Thornton), and after the billionaire’s son (Haley Joel Osment, hamming it up) sees Vince’s film, he comes back with some notes on how to fix it.

Eric, meanwhile, carries on relationships with pregnant girlfriend Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and two other women throughout the film, concerning himself only with STDs or an unwanted pregnancy – not any emotional connections. Turtle chases after MMA star Ronda Rousey, playing herself, and Johnny, uh… makes some wisecracks. 

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As in the show, Piven’s Ari Gold steals the film – it’s the role the actor was born to play, a high strung exec who unleashes torrents of anger at everyone and everything. As the studio head here, the stakes are even higher, and we can almost hear the firecrackers going off in Piven’s head. 

Entourage is fitfully entertaining (if lightweight), occasionally pretty funny, and moves at a fast-enough pace so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Still, none of these characters are very likable; most movie based on TV shows succeed because viewers want to spend more time with their pals, but the Entourage gang is probably better off relegated to half-hour instalments. 

The film tanked in the US when it opened earlier this month, taking in only $10 million in its opening weekend; still, the relatively low budget ($30 million) will help take the sting out of the film’s underperformance. 

Mark Wahlberg, who produced both the TV series and the movie (and, purportedly, was the inspiration for the Vince character), shows up in an amusing cameo with his own personal entourage.

The cameos don’t stop there. Dozens of familiar faces show up at Vince’s party and around the Hollywood locations, including (but not limited to) Gary Busey, Jon Favreau, Andrew Dice Clay, Mike Tyson, Pharrell Williams, Ed O’Neil, and many others.

My favorites: Liam Neeson, who flips Piven’s Ario Gold the bird at a traffic light, and Kelsey Grammer, who’s marriage is apparently on the rocks.

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