Entourage (Review): The Return of the Dude-Bros
White male privilege is alive and well — not to mention partying indiscriminately with scantily clad extras, an unlimited supply of complimentary alcoholic beverages and/or legal/illegal substances of varying shape, color, and texture, and all the wish-fulfillment fantasies a white, privileged male could ever want — in Entourage: The Movie (not the official title), the highly unanticipated, big-screen sequel to the premium cable series that ran for eight seasons from 2004 through 2011. Why anyone associated with Entourage: The Series imagined anyone on the other side of a flat-screen TV would want a big-screen sequel is a question no one seemed to ask or if they did, they simply ignored the answer and moved ahead anyway (financial considerations were, as always, paramount), confident in the belief, however unfounded and removed from objective reality, that moviegoers would pay handsomely to see Entourage’s dude-bros, older, but definitely not wiser, do what dude-bros do in the company of other dude-bros: Hang with other dude-bros, party to excess, use and discard women (because women are rarely more than exploitable commodities in the Entourage universe) and otherwise enjoy lives of worry-free leisure.
Entourage’s rapidly diminishing fanbase may or may not remember where writer-director-creator Doug Ellin left his central character, Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier), an A-list movie star, Eric (Kevin Connelly), Vince’s childhood best and manager, Johnnie Drama (Kevin Dillon), Vince’s half-brother and D-list celebrity, and Turtle (Jeremy Ferrara), Vince’s friend and driver. Vince’s tirade-prone agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), also played a key role in Vince’s rise from relative unknown to A-lister, the Hollywood Dream made not-quite real. As the last, seemingly interminable season wrapped up, Vince was in settle-down-and-get-married mode, Turtle on his to becoming a restaurateur and business owner, Johnnie continued being Johnnie, and Ari gave up the stresses of Hollywood for early retirement in Italy.
Within the first few minutes of Entourage: The Cinematic Experience, however, Vince has thrown off the shackles of unholy matrimony to party in Ibiza with bikini-clad twenty-something women, Ari returns to the moviemaking business, this time as a studio head, Turtle has made a standalone fortune in branded alcohol, and Eric, separated from his pregnant wife, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), spends more time bedding beautiful women than managing Vince’s potentially floundering career. Eager to expand his brand as an “artist” and not just an actor, Vince agrees to star in Ari’s Next Big Movie, “Hyde,” a futuristic, dystopian take on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (insert multiple yawns here), but only if Ari hands over the keys to the director’s trailer.
Ellin introduces what passes for conflict in the Entourage universe when Vince’s film goes over budget, necessitating a humiliating plea for more cash from Hyde’s Texas-based, billionaire co-financier, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton). In turn, Larsen sends his spoiled, short-on-smarts son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment), to oversee post-production of Hyde. Travis essentially out-dude-bro’s the original dude-bros, behaving badly at every turn, threatening to lock Vince out of the editing room, and reconfiguring Hyde to suit his philistine tastes. There’s more, of course, to the conflict than the usual condescending, elitist attitude of Hollywood’s movers and shakers toward unsophisticated Red Staters (Texas standing in for the vast, undifferentiated part of the country not on the East Coast or the Left one).
In its simplest, basest form, Vince and Travis’ conflict is about women, specifically a woman, model-turned-actress Emily Ratajkowski (playing a slightly heightened version of herself). In the Entourage universe, woman are simply objects, props, or possessions to be fought over, won, and then discarded by the men who enjoy Most Favored Character status (i.e., one of the Big Five or really Big Four since Ari, a married man, doesn’t seem interested in straying from his unnamed wife). Only Turtle and his attempted romance of UFC champion Ronda Rousey, comes close to escaping the disappointing depiction of women. Even there, however, Turtle’s romance with Rousey functions primarily as fodder for his dude-bro friends — and by extension, the audience — to joke and laugh about (because anything outside gender norms can’t be taken seriously).
A decade ago, Entourage enticed premium cable subscribers with its depiction of white male entitlement fantasies, superfluous celebrity cameos, and dude-bro humor of the sexist, misogynistic kind. Four years after its last episode mercifully aired, ending a series that overstayed its welcome by three or four years, absolutely nothing has changed for Ellin or his characters. They’re stuck in a seemingly endless loop of reruns and syndication, doomed to play out the same shallow, self-indulgent behaviors. Moviegoers, however, can decide otherwise. They can simply walk or turn away and simply say, “This far and no further,” to Vince Chase, Johnnie Drama, Eric, Turtle, and Ari one more, last time.