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Review: 'Entourage' relies on cameos over storyline

Ronda Rousey, left, is among the many cameos, seen here with Jerry Ferrara as Turtle, Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama, Kevin Connolly as Eric and Adrian Grenier as Vince in Entourage. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ronda Rousey, left, is among the many cameos, seen here with Jerry Ferrara as Turtle, Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama, Kevin Connolly as Eric and Adrian Grenier as Vince in Entourage. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Published Jun. 2, 2015

Entourage was never on my must-watch-TV list — I'm a Californication man — so two friends who "religiously" watched the HBO series joined me at the screening to offer input.

Bottom line: She enjoyed Doug Ellin's movie version of his show biz satire. He was bored after 20 minutes. I wondered what took him so long.

Inspired by producer Mark Wahlberg's celebrity rise and hangers-on, Entourage is a comedy of Hollywood hubris, fueled by a misguided perception that anything the famous do is of importance to everyone. The feeling is our No. 1 social disease, a contagion of unwarranted fame that Entourage celebrates without the necessary irony. These wolves of Rodeo Drive simply aren't as appealing, or their misadventures as revealing as Ellin believes.

Picking up where the series ended four years ago, Entourage opens with Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Johnny Drama (Matt Dillon) speedboating to the divorce party yacht owned by their actor pal Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). His former agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) now heads the studio where Vince became a star.

The script's main attempt at a story involves Vince talking Ari into spending $115 million on a rave-horror flick titled Hyde that also will be the star's directing debut. The money would come from a Texas oil man (Billy Bob Thornton), who sends his doofus son (Haley Joel Osment) to check on the investment's viability. Meanwhile, Turtle is trying to snag a date with MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, Eric is facing new fatherhood and Drama still covets stardom despite a lousy reputation as an actor.

Entourage the movie operates like Vince's pals, making itself feel important solely through who's famous nearby. More than 30 familiar faces — plus several not so much — appear in cameos, many so fleeting they don't really register. Something is amiss, or at least grossly overestimated, when a comedy plot pivots on the audience knowing who the heck is Emily Ratajkowski. Something is really wrong when Osment turns in the best performance in any movie these days.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.