At that point in time I had heard about Entourage and had seen a few episodes at my cousins' house. I thought Entourage was one of the best shows I had ever seen. It was a show about friendship that just happened to be set in Hollywood. Vince, Eric, Johnny Drama and Turtle had a friendship that I cared about. The boys were constantly ribbing each other, one of my favorite aspects of the show, but would also stick by each other when the chips fell down. For me that was the ideal kind of friendship. By the time the series ended, the boys almost felt like they were my friends. Ari Gold quickly became my favorite character on the show. The quick-tempered, fast-talking agent took the show to another level for me. I looked forward for Ari's next appearance on screen. His speeches and rants were iconic, and he had the most memorable one-liners on the show, with Johnny Drama taking the silver in that department. Ari made me want to be a Hollywood agent and Entourage made me want to leave my comfortable home in Oakland and migrate to Los Angeles. And that's before I factor in the celebrity cameos. This show was funny, witty, dirty, interesting and lovable. I loved Entourage, even in the twilight seasons when the show looked like it was running on fumes. When the final season ended I felt satisfied, but I heard rumors that Doug Ellin, the show's creator, and Mark Wahlberg, the show's producer and inspiration, were interested in making a movie. The series finale tied the entire series in a nice little bow and gave us closure as we said goodbye to these best friends from Queens. The scene after the credits, however, gave us hope that we would see our friends again. That was 2011.
I would periodically check the web for any Entourage movie rumors with no avail. Finally, pieces here and there revived the rumors. But they were just rumors at that point, until they finally weren't. The day I read a headline that confirmed an Entourage movie was imminent I almost did a back flip off my bed. (I couldn't. I can't do back flips.) From that point on, it was just a waiting game. I anticipated this movie's release like most people anticipate a Marvel release. Each trailer release had me shadow boxing in excitement, even if I was in the middle of the school library during finals week. Entourage came out on a Wednesday and you know I was there to take in all the glory. So here is my movie review, but before we get into that, let's rank the Entourage seasons, because you know I can't resist lists and rankings. This way you can log into your HBO Go account (or your friend's) and know which seasons are absolutely essential. Let's begin. (Spoilers ahead!)
9. Season 7
Favorite Episode: "Bottoms Up"
Gun to my head I had to pick a least favorite season, it's season the seventh. It's really just a downfall year for basically everyone except Turtle. Vince, after crashing his stunt car during a film shoot, suddenly feels the need for live a risky life. He dates a porn star (I won't tell you who because you'll stop reading and search up her videos) and does drugs, which sounds fun, but isn't so. Drama is having career troubles as usual, but major developments occur. E, now engaged to Sloan, has to navigate the fiancee life, which sounds boring, and is. Turtle ventures out into his own business. Finally, Ari's problems at work catch up with him at home. Really, nobody had a good year except Turtle. Billy Walsh reappears this season, however he is now clean and drug-free, so he's not the Billy we know and love. This season was more about the drama (no pun intended) and less about the laughs.
8. Season 8
Favorite Episode: "The End"
Final seasons are usually pretty tough to do. You have to wrap of the series in a way that satisfies your audience. The problem with that, said Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, in an interview, is that every member of the audience has already written their version of the finale in their heads. When the finale is not like the one they imagined, fans leave in disappointment and resentment. So Doug Ellin had a daunting task ahead of him. These were the stakes. Vince was fresh out of rehab and trying to get back to work. E is now single and his relationship with Sloan is quite complicated. Oh wait, that thing about their relationship being complicated is every season. Ari is struggling to adjust to life without his wife. Turtle is trying to get his business afloat. Drama is already having issues with his new TV show Johnny Bananas. From that starting point, the show uses 8 episodes to resolve the boys' issues. The ending is touching and was like I wrote it in my head.
7. Season 3 Part 2
Favorite Episode: "Return of the King"
I loved this season, but is has to fall somewhere. Technically this is the second half of the third season but I'm counting it as its own season. Season 3 part 2 gets docked down a few points for only being 8 episodes long. The less episodes there are for me to enjoy, the less enjoyable the season is. (Basic math.) Also the fact that Ari spends a majority of the season without contact from the boys takes away a crucial element to the show's success. Ari and E's hostile friendship(?) is something took look forward to. I want to see Ari throw witty insults at E. I want to see these two in close quarters. "Return of the King" is in the pantheon of great episodes. I now feel a little guilty of putting this season so low.
6. Season 4
Favorite Episode: "The First Cut Is the Deepest"
Maybe it's because at this point I was tired of hearing about Medellin, but this season just didn't quite crack top 5 for me. What I think it really was is Billy Walsh. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Billy Walsh as much as the next guy. But there is such thing as too much. Billy is the type of character that should be taken in doses. He's not the main course. The season premiere "Welcome to the Jungle" is one of my least favorite episodes. But enough with the bad. Billy vs Eric is fun, and although there were times I got tired of him, Billy had some great moments throughout the season. This season also had a great mix of episodes that kept the story going and episodes that added nothing to the story, yet were entertaining as hell. Sometimes the overarching plot needs a break for a little.
5. Season 6
Favorite Episode: "Give a Little Bit"
OK, I know some people might be shaking their heads. On the surface this seasons doesn't really have much of a plot. Vince is back on top, he's got his next movie project lined up and he's on vacation for the time being. The only new thing that happens to Vince really is he can drive himself now. Yes, there are episodes there that don't progress the plot, but again, I think that's necessary for this show. But this was actually a really big season for a lot of other people. Lloyd wants a promotion now and is aiming for a position as an agent. Ari is not as enthusiastic about letting Lloyd leave his position as Ari's loyal assistant. Also, Ari is looking to acquire another company as his empire begins to expand. Meanwhile E and Sloan work out their complicated- blah, blah, blah. (I won't get sucked into this again.) E dates a crazy girl and his career as a manager seems to take off. This season for him, though, is as much about Sloan as anything else. Turtle is no longer complacent with being a member of Vince's entourage, so he begins to make moves. And Drama has an up and down season and considers giving up acting at one point. It's a big season for everyone except Vince, and that's not such a bad thing. The finale was just the icing on the cake.
4. Season 5
Favorite Episode: "Return to Queen's Blvd."
The theme of this season is Vince's attempt at a comeback. We see Vince hit rock bottom for really the first time in the series. What we get is a new, hungry Vincent Chase. I love laid back Vince, but hungry Vince is a different monster. From the premiere to the finale I think this was a really strong season. We get a little less about Turtle and Drama, but they provide plenty of antics to keep us entertained. But this season is more about Vince, Eric and Ari, all busting their asses to get Vince back in the business. My cousin once said that he could tell what season of Entourage we were in by the movie that Vince is pursuing. This season it is Smoke Jumpers, originally an indie movie that is being made into a studio film. Vince fights to get this movie made and when he finally gets on it, he clashes with the director, who believes Vince is a bad actor (which is true). The movie falls apart and Vince and the boys go back to Queens. This season had me invested in the boys more so than many others, and that's why it is number 4 on my list.
3. Season 1
Favorite Episode: "Busey and the Beach"
The one that started it all. Entourage burst on to the screen and hit the ground running. This is a short season, but all 8 episodes matter. Throughout the season we are still meeting our main characters, learning to love them. We know Vince is the laid back, up and coming movie star. We know his older brother is a struggling TV star who is neurotic and desperate for attention. We know Turtle relies on Vince to get him laid and likes to mess with E and Drama. We see E as Vince's best friend who is struggling to get his footing in Hollywood, working as his best friend's manager. And then there is Ari, the foul mouthed agent who will stop at nothing to get what he wants for himself and his clients. Each episode we see, we get to know our guys a little more, and we become connected to them. You can tell they haven't hit their stride yet, but you can imagine the possibilities. They set everything up for us, right down to establishing the frequent celeb cameos. It all culminates on "Busey and the Beach", which in my opinion is this season's best episode. This ep had everything you would want from an Entourage episode. You got the absolute best you could get from each character. It's part of the aforementioned pantheon of Entourage episodes. This where I think Entourage really took off. You could really add this to the beginning of Season 2. And in the upcoming episodes we would get our first taste of Billy Walsh.
2. Season 3 Part 1
Favorite Episode: "One Day in the Valley"
You know it's a good ass season when there are at least 5 episodes that are in the running for my favorite episode of the season. Riding the high of what was a spectacular season 2, the boys came back with another strong season. It starts off with the aftermath of Aquaman and leads into Vince's quest to star in Medellin. However, Warner Bros. wants Vince to do Aquaman 2 and Alan, the studio head, won't allow Vince to do his passion project. This results in a standoff in which the outcome is no Aquaman 2 and no Medellin for Vince Chase. Drama lands a role in 5 Towns which in the later seasons becomes a hit, and Turtle takes a stab at managing a rapper. Ari fights to get Vince the films he wants to do and ultimately takes a huge L this season. This all leads to his eventual firing at the hands of Vinny Chase. If there are any points to dock this season it would be because of Dom, who makes a two episode appearance. I see his purpose on the show, kind of, but he was just annoying throughout his time on air. Other than that it is a really strong season and really essential to the rest of the series.
1. Season 2
Favorite Episode: "Exodus"
OK, fuck whatever I said about season 3 having amazing episodes because season two blows it out of the water. The undisputed best episode is "Exodus" and you can't argue with me there. But the battle for the second best is a freakin' 8 episode race. This season has 14 episodes so it follows my rule of more being better. But it's not just quantity over quality. These are some really quality episodes here. There are no weak points throughout the season at all and that's tough to do considering its length. If I wanted to gather the 20 best episodes to present to a friend who has never seen the show, about half of the episodes I would show would come from season 2. Other seasons are really good as well, but this season is just leagues ahead of every other one The best moments and the best one liners seem to originate from this season. The movie in question this season is Aquaman, a comic book hero Vince originally didn't want to do. Ari pushed him, however, and got Vince to sign on. However, the rug gets pulled under him and suddenly it appears Vince might not get to star in this film. On Ari's end, the reemergence of his old boss and current partner Terrence McQuewick brings trouble. There is a power struggle for control over Vincent Chase and essentially the whole agency. This is also the season when Eric meets Sloan and they begin their 8 season-long up and down relationship. If Entourage ended after season two it would have still gone down as one of my all time favorite shows just based on these 14 episodes, but I'm glad they came back for more.
The film received some criticism upon its release. Some critics even called this movie an hour and a half episode. I don't see how that's an insult because that is exactly what this was. That's why I loved it so much. Here's where managing your expectations (something Ari talked about in "A Day in the Valley") comes in handy. You need to understand that Mark Wahlberg and Doug Ellin did not intend to make a Theory of Everything or a Birdman. They wanted to make another Entourage episode and they did just that. If you were a fan of the show then what you really wanted was to get it back for about 90 minutes. There's no way to not like this movie if you loved the show. The movie is better than a couple of the seasons. In fact, if it were a season itself I would rank it at number 5. But you don't have to have had watched the series to enjoy the movie. One of my coworkers told me she saw Entourage without ever having seen the show and she loved it. She was even inspired to watch the series. So knowing the characters isn't really necessary for your viewing experience. The movie will catch you up before it starts. However, having an Entourage background does help. You appreciate the jokes more, you already love this characters and you satisfy that sense of nostalgia. I had my girlfriend watch up to season 5 just to get her familiarized. Any gaps she was missing was answered in some way or another in the movie (or by me whispering her the answers).
In this film we catch up with our boys where we left off at the end of season 8. Ari is retired, but was just offered a job as the Warner Bros. studio head. Vince got married only to be divorced 8 days later. Now he is ready to work and Ari has a project for him: Hyde, a modern day Jekyll & Hyde story about a DJ that also features Calvin Harris. (If you were worried about a lack a celeb cameos, fear not. Entourage the movie is cameos galore.) Vince is on board, the only thing is he also wants to direct this time. Cut ahead 8 months later and Hyde is over budget and the film is not even done yet. Vince asks Ari for more money, which prompts Ari to visit the co-financiers, played by Billy Bob Thornton and the kid from The 6th Sense Haley Joel Osman. Vince is really nervous about showing anyone the movie, but Travis (Osman) must see it before he and his dad cough up any more dough. After finally viewing the movie Travis demands changes to the movie, in particular getting rid of Drama's role. Meanwhile E is dealing with pending baby mama drama. He and Sloan are again split up and E has having fun with women. However he and Sloan are still trying to work out their co-parenting issues. This leaves Turtle to try to court UFC champion Ronda Rousy. Most of the plot revolves around Hyde and Vince trying to get Travis to fund more money. This was a really fun movie with delightful cameos and those shots at Drama that we have grown to love. What I love about this movie is that it stayed in its lane. It never tried to be what it wasn't, and ultimately it became what it was destined to be: a damn good time at the movies. The ending left room for a sequel, and I hope there more than that. I give Entourage a solid Guapo. Now would be the perfect time to end this post with a Ari Gold quote, but I'm not that cheesy/ I didn't want to force it. So instead I leave you with this clip.
Bonus Movie Review: Insidious 3
Just in case you didn't get enough of me, here's my review of Insidious 3. (Wait, I didn't ask for this!) Well, then just skip ahead. I already started writing it and I don't intend to stop now. Let's just get something out of the way. I'm not a huge fan of scary movies. It has to do with the fact that my parents forced me to watch it with them as a kid. Whenever I would try to leave they would make me stay. My parents were dicks like that, but apparently my grandma was much worse. On top of that most horror films that have come up lately are ridiculous and unoriginal. Insidious was an exception. The plot was one of the most original I have seen out of a horror film and it was actually entertaining (and frightening). Insidious 2 might have been even better. Naturally I looked forward to number 3. I'm not sure why they released it in early June (would have made more sense around October) but hey, to each his own. I was excited though and I didn't manage my expectations. To put it bluntly, it just wasn't that good. This was a case when the Insidious crew should have quit while they were ahead. That doesn't happen in Hollywood, though. The director of the first two, James Wan, wasn't even at the helm for number 3. Insidious 3 was a prequel to the first two films, and while I'm all for prequels, this one just didn't work. Not even fan-favorite Elise, played by Lin Shaye, couldn't save this movie, which is too bad because I thought she would be able to carry the movie by herself. Maybe she can, just not with a weak script. I was mildly entertained, with an emphasis on the "mildly", and I wasn't scared. I wanted to be nice and give it a Ight, but I have to be real here and give it a Feo.
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