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Entourage big-screen debut saved by a hilarious star turn from Piven

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Entourage big-screen debut saved by a hilarious star turn from Piven

LIKE many a great TV series before it, Entourage navigates tricky waters in the transition from small to big screen.

At times it feels like a pale imitation of the TV show at its best, yet the cast bring enough personality to make the slight storyline watchable — and it comes as little surprise that 

Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold delivers the strongest laughs. 

Frequently, though, the film struggles to break out from its winning TV formula  — where characters are developed over weekly episodes — into a stand-alone picture. 

Just like many of the great small-screen series, the makers of Entourage learn here that it’s not always wise to tinker with a winning format. 

At least the cast are up for the ride, while some of the cameos  — in particular one involving Kelsey Grammer — deliver serious laughs. Still, an over-reliance on those very cameos also proves to be grating. 

The movie fares best when it allows the narcissistic, smooth-talking, stressed-out Ari Gold to be front and centre. 

Developed with panache by Piven, he is a terrific comic creation and undergoing a bit of a meltdown here. 

His agent-turned studio boss has his head turned by the star of his new movie, Vincent Chase, who also wants to direct his pet project.

He gives him the green light and Chase promptly casts his brother in a supporting role.

But with the movie running way over budget and with an unproven director at the helm, the financiers are becoming a little bit nervous. 

Of these, a couple of redneckers, father and son billionaires who invest in movies (Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment), are tiring of Hollywood types squandering their cash. It’s not long before they’ve landed in LA demanding edits and reshoots. 

Piven’s Gold, utterly stressed, struggling (and failing) to maintain an air of calm, is easily the best thing about this film and he carries it through its chaotic and problematic third act. He delivers many of the film’s funniest lines — usually while popping a vein. 

The problem is, the story’s so slight that you feel it when he’s not onscreen. The rest of the cast do their best with flimsy material, but maybe, in hindsight, an effective Entourage movie should have been an Ari Gold spin-off. 

Entourage (15A) 3/5 Stars

The Verdict: A passably entertaining and occasionally very funny tale — but the movie’s found wanting whenever Piven’s not on screen.