I’m going to lay my hand on the table straight away here: 1. I have never seen Entourage TV show and 2. This is not going to be a rant. Believe me, I was fully expecting to come back from the cinema and rip Entourage to shreds, but I won’t be doing that. Instead, this is going to be a defence of the film from all the vitriolic (and I feel undeserved) criticism it has received.
Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He and his entourage (his manager, Eric ‘E’ Murphy (Kevin Connolly), his friend/driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and his older brother Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase (Kevin Dillon)) live in the highest echelon of the Hollywood elite, a world filled with private yachts, supermodels, fast cars and movie premieres. However, Vincent feels his recent output as an actor has been less than stellar, and tells his agent, the anger-filled and foul mouthed Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), that the next project he stars in he wants to also direct. With Ari’s new film studio producing, Vincent manages to go over budget, and now Ari and the crew butt heads with their Texan co-financiers (Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment) over the direction the film should take.
After reading up on the original HBO series, I discovered an interesting fact: the show was originally conceived as a documentary following a real entourage. This idea of showing what Hollywood is really like for the successful is carried over into the film,and there is a supreme sense of honesty ringing through the whole affair, and that’s just one of the reason that Entourage is a much smarter film than people have given it credit for.
The film has been accused of glorifying a shallow, vacuous, materialistic life of cars, boats, treating women as if they’re cars and boats. While it’s true that the characters live in that world, the act of not condemning something, it should be remembered, is not the same thing as actively glorifying it. Are we suggesting that this is somehow not true to real life? That this isn’t how many, many famous celebrities live their lives? Should that life not be portrayed without active condemnation coming alongside it?
The film reminded me a lot of Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, another film that wallowed in the lifestyle of excess and materialism that is so desired by many of today’s youth. But while that film made the ultimate consequences look bleak and ultimately fruitless, the consequences of the characters in Entourage is that of resounding success at almost every turn. Does this signify bad storytelling? I don’t think so. In fact, I think there’s an undercurrent running through Entourage that’s making its characters grow into adults.
All of them have been famous since their early 20s, and so were never forced to grow up into the real world. Their arrested development is challenged in separate ways by all of the characters. Vincent is learning how to really create something artistic and worthwhile for his career, E is learning how to ultimately commit to his relationship with on again off again girlfriend Sloan and their imminent child together, Turtle is learning how to have an adult relationship at all, personified by his crush on MMA star Ronda Rousey (played by herself), and Drama is learning to confront the fact that he will always be second best to his movie star younger sibling. While these storylines and developments are well handled, Turtle’s story with Ronda Rousey is probably the most disappointing,as it had been set up to be something fairly serious and ended up being used mainly as a cheap gag to put in the trailer which ends up sticking out among the rest of the stories.
The fact is, Entourage is not a comedy. It’s been advertised and labelled as one, but it isn’t one. I laughed once, maybe twice. What it is is a fairly straight faced portrait of the people who are royalty in our society. They are the ones we look up to in the modern age. They are the kings and the queen, the real superstars. What is most interesting about that is how mundane it’s actually portrayed as. Despite the boat parties, the mass screenings, and frequent sex scenes, all of feels quite routine,and that’s what it is to these people. Its their day to day. There’s a part where Vincent says to Drama, “hey, you could always move back to Queens and live with Mom!” and Drama replies, “I could never move back to Queens! I like the weather here too much!”
These are people who live in constant, obscene wealth and his biggest problem with leaving is the weather. All the things that these characters have that we aspire to are simply mundane and routine to them now.
Finally, there’s been much talk of the film’s treatment of women, with it being accused of being misogynistic and objectifying. Yes, it is. It is objectifying, it does treat women like commodities. However,this comes back to the point of honesty. Anyone from Hollywood will tell you that is how women are seen. It may not be good, but it’s true. This doesnt , again, condemn it, but it doesn’t glorify it. And as much as the men may talk about women like they’re toys, the women talk about the men the same way, and clearly have the most agency in the situation. None of the sexual activities are forced or pressured, if anything in the area of the casual sex that is so rampant in the film, the women are without a doubt the party that hold the most power.
So while the characters talk about women like they are property (despite two of the major character’s arcs, as previously mentioned,are about them learning not to see women in that way), the film remains detached enough to be able to portray misogynistic characters in a misogynistic world without glorifying nor demonizing it. Again, it’s simply about being honest.