The Entourage movie opened Wednesday, June 3, to fairly tepid reviews. But unlike most of those, two Jezebel staffers watched the film together one day after work and, to our pleasant surprise, thought it was an interesting, well-shot, even artful summer film.
Julianne: I was dreading this movie. The reviews have not been great, and the overall theme of Entourage seems inherently flawed if only because there are too many “main” characters to become too attached to any of them. The thing about an entourage, in real life, is that most of those people are just hangers-on, too uninteresting to really care about their day-to-day hijinks rolled up into the vague “let’s make a movie!” plot the trailer promised.
But after seeing this: not so. For one, the trailer really doesn’t do it justice: sure, the main plot is about trying to get a movie made and, more so, trying to really thrive in a big city that wants to eat you alive, yet the overarching themes shone through in an unexpected way: the humility of true friendship, the collective benefits of sticking together and never wavering in your loyalty, almost to the point of socialism. Additionally, and I know you have some interesting things to say about this, just the fact of seeing such strong male bonding being carried out completely without self-consciousness, was refreshing.
Erin: I, too, was prepared for this movie to suck. But Entourage reminded me that, in fact, its cultural ubiquity has been taken for granted. As a franchise, it is singular in its depiction of male friendship and brave in its depictions of male bonding, something that has been narrowed by our restrictive views on what men are allowed to care about. The film really took it to the next level, challenging viewers to see men as entities who aren’t blindly pussy-obsessed automatons. Sometimes, they just want to hang out with their bros. And that’s okay.
Entourage has rightfully gotten criticized over a lack of substantive female roles, and it’s true. The first woman we see includes a shot of a breast, and the only “serious” female characters remain fully clothed the whole time. I get that we critique films for not being inclusive enough, but I think that in this case, Entourage is very much not “about” us, you know? It’s about men. Men who hang out together and have a bond that cannot be replicated. It’s not an endorsement of their view of women; it’s just an observation of their real lives.
Julianne: The one thing about the women in this movie, though, is that some are depicted in the act of doing their jobs which are not related to sex or pleasing the men, which is refreshing. I do think this film inadvertently skirts the problem with totally objectifying or trivializing its woman characters by just keeping its focus on the male friendships—it’s not an ideal solution, obviously, but I’d rather have no women at all than women who are talked down to on the screen. That said, I was quite surprised at how open this film was to a more queer view of said male bonding, an across the board homosociality that permeates its entirety, and no one balks at it, which was much more progressive than I was expecting. Did you notice that too, Erin?
Erin: Yes, Julianne, but I saw it more as Entourage picking things up where the series left off. Ari had driven himself insane by leaving the game, Vincent (of course) wants to direct, Turtle is working on a book, and the audience’s main question and the series’ biggest cliffhanger is finally answered: finally, the main characters have had sex with each other on camera in an incredibly graphic fashion. There was no butthole eating in the original Entourage; Entourage: The Movie features multiple scenes of it.
Julianne: This is true, and this is where I’m a bit dumbfounded by the negative reviews, both plotwise—everyone fucking each other is Entourage’s natural logical end, so as a device it’s both plausible and gives the series some much-needed denouement. Haters may hate, but they should understand that this much sex between the main characters decreases the likelihood of an Entourage 2.
And visually speaking, the sex was quite artful, particularly the creative camera angles that allowed beautiful close-ups of glistening, moist butthole. Coupled with the lighting—slightly dark, with a tinge of blue—and the music, which included some electronic dance music (EDM) and opened with a house diva, the inventiveness of this film surpassed all my expectations. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see all those soft-focus, close-up ab shots of Vincent Chase, am I right ladies!
One thing that didn’t surprise me, because it’s been a recurring theme throughout the series, was the way it encapsulated the culture of big city life through universal touchstones, namely: the struggle and the hustle. More specifically, this film’s portrayal of substance abuse and its attendant consumerism was very real; it begins with a fashion show, moves on to a fashion show afterparty, and before the end of the film, there is a very blatant product-placement scene when Vince and the guys go shopping at Marc by Marc Jacobs on Bleecker Street. The storefront is featured prominently, as is the logo, but there’s never really any reason for them to actually go shopping. What was your read on that, Erin?
Erin: When Vince was both plowing and being plowed by those guys in a dark basement in a shady club on the West Side Highway, i immediately thought it was a sly nod to the show’s suffocating consumerism and a direct response to critics who had accused Entourage of glorifying conspicuous luxury consumption as its own end. But Vince leaves the club full of throbbing-dicked horny guys feeling empty. He literally had an orgy in the midst of a consumption orgy. And he shows us that that will make us sad.
Vince’s endless hedonistic pursuit of sexual pleasure away from his adoring partner E ends up destroying him emotionally. Recall the scene when Vince returns home after having a threesome with his friend and the young man who lives in “Brooklyn” and E is wearing those little running shorts that normally would be sort of funny, but he’s so upset and broken at Vince’s lack of capacity to be loyal that the audience is forced to cry with him. Money, power, and the willing assholes of your acquaintances won’t bring you anything but fleeting happiness. True fulfillment comes from having a close, tight circle of bros. And by “tight circle,” I mean literal tight circles. If you catch my drift.
One thing I found odd, though, Julianne, is that the version of the Entourage movie that we illegally downloaded in a Starbucks featured several scenes that I didn’t see mentioned in any other reviews. Was that weird to you?
Julianne: I’m really glad you brought this up. It seems to me that the state of modern film criticism is at a nadir if none of the reviews I read mentioned the scene where two of the guys steal away from the fashion party to discuss their friendship and end up expressing their feelings for each other through a tender, precious, loving blow job that evolves into an expression of full-on anal sex.
It’s early enough in the film that writing about it isn’t a spoiler but is still important enough to the plot that neglecting it is sheer incompetence. This is the scene that sets the tone for the entire film, lets the viewer know where the guys are going to take it as they chase their dream. I also thought it was strange that Maddie and Clover didn’t mention it. But maybe talking about the sex is in itself a spoiler? The plot twist is, after all, that they’ve finally given up the ruse of playing super-hetero dudes with wolf eyes and are submitting themselves to their greatest desires: to concretize their powerful male bonds and dedication to the power of the crew by fucking one another. It’s quite touching—a visual, physical manifestation of their friendship, the furthest reaches of camaraderie.
Erin: I’m not somebody who is titillated by MM cream pies and mid-party closet analingus, and there were moments where the sheer amount of spit and bodily fluids present made me want to turn away. But maybe that’s what Entourage wants me to do. It wants to dare me to stare at men who have no socially acceptable way to define their relationships. It wants me to confront my disinterest in and dismissal of the problems of people who work in showbiz and fashion, to point a finger at myself, and realize that maybe I’m the douchebag. If I’d only challenge myself to see beyond the flash and shine and into the perfectly pink anal cavity and cum-spattered faces of the objects of my derision, I’d learn something about myself. I’d learn something about humanity.
Images via screenshot (La Dolce Vita/Lucas Entertainment)