It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
By the bitter end of its eight-season run, HBO’s “Entourage” had twisted its own narrative to a degree that it was barely recognizable from the beginning of the series. When it started, “Entourage” was the story of three average guys and their decidedly not average best friend with the movie-star good looks, trying to make it in the cutthroat world of Hollywood with only their loyalty to each other and NYC roots to keep them above the spoiled fray. We could relate to Vinny, Eric, Johnny and Turtle. By the end, the boys of “Entourage” were men, and they were the exact kind of narcissists that the show felt like it mocked at the beginning. Success was the most important thing in their lives, and the show became little more than a story of a dream fulfilled, despite the occasional laugh. It wasn’t about the guy who went to Hollywood and stayed himself, bro. It was about the guy who went to Hollywood and slept with models, had all the new toys, won awards, etc., bro.
Four years after “Entourage” went off the air (although it feels much longer), creator Doug Ellin is back with the inevitable film version of his show, continuing the same tonal problems of the last few seasons of the program only in a longer, bigger, more misogynist form. Much like the series, even in its lowest points, there are still a few laughs from the supporting cast, and Ellin paces the piece well (it doesn’t feel nearly as long as the neverending “Sex and the City” movies), but “Entourage” mistakenly keeps its characters floating in rarefied air, giving us no way to relate to them or care about them. Vinny and his buddies have become easier to correlate with the Kardashians than the dreamers they used to be. And that makes for a film that keeps its audience at a distance, never surprising them at all narratively and barely moving the needle for its characters. It is fan fiction in film form.
After ending a marriage that lasted only nine days with a hot person party in Ibiza (“Entourage” takes place in that dream movie world in which every extra in every scene from the people walking down the street to all the patrons of a restaurant could be a fashion model), Vinny Chase (Adrian Grenier) wants to get back in the movie game. He calls up Ari (Jeremy Piven) and convinces him to re-join his team as the producer on his next flick, a futuristic take on the Stevenson classic, “Hyde.” One catch: Vinny wants to direct.
Ellin’s script ignores most of the production process, immediately zipping us forward to days after filming has wrapped. Ari and his producing partners, including Texan walking-stereotype financiers played by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment, still haven’t seen a cut of the film, which Vinny is clearly apprehensive about showing to anyone. Part of the problem is that he needs more money on the already over-budget film to finish post-production. Ari agrees to go to Texas to talk to the money men about getting the cash, but Chase is going to have to get over his nerves and show the movie to everybody soon.