By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Faint glimmers of morality can be discerned amid the decadence of "Entourage" (Warner Bros.), a comedy that simultaneously satirizes and wallows in Hollywood excess.
But these weak ethical beacons in writer-director Doug Ellin’s big-screen version of the TV series he created for HBO are vastly outshone by the glare of his film’s glamorized materialism, an outlook that includes a blatantly debased attitude toward human sexuality.
Fans of the popular cable show, which ran for eight seasons beginning in 2004, will already be familiar with Queens-bred movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as well as with the hard-driving agent who first discovered him, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven).
They’ll also recognize the trio of devoted hangers-on who have followed Vince on his coast-to-coast journey to fame: his feckless half-brother, Johnny (Kevin Dillon); his best buddy-turned-manager, Eric (Kevin Connolly); and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), another hometown pal who once served as Vince’s driver before achieving outsized success of his own as a tequila tycoon.
As the multiplex variant of the story kicks off, Vince convinces Ari — who has left agency work behind to take on the role of a studio executive — to let him direct as well as act in a high-concept adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
When the production starts running over budget, however, the movie’s Texas-based financial backer, Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton), and Larsen’s egotistical son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment), become increasingly dissatisfied — and intrusive. Their disruptive demands put a strain on Vince’s relationship with his loyal retinue, each member of which is also preoccupied with problems of his own.
Ellin elicits the occasional smile with his send-up of Tinseltown’s eccentricities. And his script makes a few nods in the direction of loyalty to family and friends as well as toward artistic integrity.
Yet the libido-driven proceedings he helms — the central quartet explicitly acknowledge that the pursuit of sexual conquest is the primary motivation in their lives — find Eric bedding two newfound acquaintances within the course of a few hours. Though this eventually entangles the would-be good guy in something of a cautionary tale, his underlying assumptions, like those of his companions, remain unchanged.
Given this uncritical context, it comes as no surprise that a prominent subplot involving a same-sex wedding is treated as a cue for frivolous, reflexive celebration.
The film contains misguided values, including a benign view of drug use and of homosexual acts, graphic scenes of aberrant behavior and casual encounters with upper female and rear nudity, fleeting gore, frequent uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
Copyright (c) 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops