It’s probably not the best feeling when viewing a movie when you find yourself sympathizing with the villain.
Probably even worse when that villain is played by former cherubic child actor Haley Joel Osment as perhaps the least likeable Texan ever, (at least his father is played by a southerner, Billy Bob Thornton, though he’s from Arkansas, not Texas).
The sympathizing in question comes with Osment’s Travis McCredle, a generally unpleasant character, (you can tell because he has to pay for women to be with him, which in this enterprise seems to be the worst sin of all). His reaction to Vinny Chase’s (Adrian Grenier) movie-within-a-movie Hyde, which he insisted on directing to former agent and current studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), is a curious one. He asks him to bring in some non-insider friends into the project. Have some people from outside the inner circle contribute to the enterprise.
It is unknown if this was a dig at the Doug Ellin-directed, Mark Wahlberg-produced movie as a whole, but certainly a deviation from the expected formula might have been a welcome change in the Entour-verse.
In the final episode of the TV show, Vince has a life change and marries Alice Eve, who is playing a character and is not herself.
In the film, she is quickly discarded by stating that Vince had a nine-day marriage, and the oft-single Chase is flung back into bachelorhood. This is okay, because we all know that his winning personality is what matters as Emily Ratajkowski, (here playing “Emily Ratajkowski”) takes an instant liking to our boy Vinny.
This does not augur well for our heroes, as McCredle is the money man, (well, son of the money man) for Vince’s film, and spurned by Ratajkowski, (he does come on way too strong), he takes out his frustrations on the movie, saying that Vince and his jokey brother Johnny Drama are both unwatchable and they should be immediately recast, to the chagrin of Ari, (and this from a guy who liked Vince’s passion project Medellin).
But here’s the problem: what we can see from the movie Hyde is only that which is watched by Ari. And what is watched by Ari is, quite frankly, unspeakably bad, (a film in which Chase is a bizarre DJ that implants some sort of substances in his patrons, while real-life DJ Calvin Harris stands by and watches). It is hard to know if Drama is any good in the film within a film, (in which he only has four scenes), because we see not a lick of Johnny Bananas in the movie Hyde.
Therefore, the film is predicated on Ari believing that this fictional film is so incredible and so worth going to bat for, (or faking it really well), to the point that he is ready and willing to risk it all to protect Vince. And that’s the problem of Entourage. Make us care.
There is of course a lot of other stuff going on in the film. Turtle (Jerry Ferrera) has lost weight and wants to date Ronda Rousey (Ronda Rousey). Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly) something something with Sloane and Drama…okay so not much other stuff matters, but the pissing contest between the younger McCredle and Vincent Chase (who sits out a big stretch of the middle of the film) and Ari, who, like he did in the show, remains the most interesting character in the whole enterprise (poor Perrey Reeves tries but isn’t even given a name as Mrs. Ari).
The well-publicized cameos border on the unfortunate (Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm dates the film), to the caustic (Kelsey Grammar, everyone), to the Liam Neeson (Liam Neeson), which inspires the funniest and most unnerving line of the film, (which I will not spoil here), to the unnecessary, (plenty of blink and you’ll miss ’ems).
But the movie starts and stops with Ari Gold walking, running, and at one point helicoptering into rooms, and when all is said and done, everything Piven touches turns into Gold, including an inspired mid-credits ending, which may be lost on much of the audience but is touching nonetheless.
For the majority of the film, though it’s not so much an “Oh yeah!” but more of an “Oh yeah?”