It’s not exactly a movie — more like an extension of the HBO series that deliciously bit the Hollywood hand that fed it for eight seasons, from 2004 to 2011. Was there a crying need for a film version of Entourage? Hardly. But hold on. Writer-director Doug Ellin picks up right where he left off four years ago. The marriage of movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) evaporates as quickly as the announced retirement of superagent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). So, barely six days later, Ari is installed as a studio chief who hires Vince to star in and — get this! — direct a $100 million update on Jekyll and Hyde. There’s a part for Vince’s brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon, indelibly clueless), a shitload of conflict for manager Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly) and a refurbished role for Turtle (a most excellent Jerry Ferrara), who is newly svelte and also a newly minted tequila tycoon with the hots for the UFC’s Ronda Rousey.
The big-screen Entourage is loaded with cameos, among them Mark Wahlberg, the real-life inspiration for Vincent Chase, and Liam Neeson, who reps a whole host of celebs who show up to say, “Fuck you, Ari.” The hate is a tribute to Piven, whose iconic performance as a devil you can love has earned him a Golden Globe and three Emmys. An Oscar nod is unlikely but not unwarranted. Ari’s snark is contagious. Entourage still knows how to stick it to the sharks while preserving the camaraderie between Vince and his Queens homeys. Kudos to Billy Bob Thornton, as a Texas billionaire who finances Vince’s movie, and Haley Joel Osment — grown-up and unrecognizable as the Sixth Sense kid — who just kills it as the Texan’s horn-dog son.
Still, even good shit can go stale. But there’s no “tumble fall,” hinted at in the Jane’s Addiction song that opened the series. I’m OK with Entourage onscreen because it’s really a victory lap for a cast that once earned our DVR-ready affection. To echo Perry Farrell: “Yeah! Oh, yeah!” As for the haters? Hug it out, bitches.