Entourage encores on the big screen
After eight seasons on HBO, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his boyhood buddies Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and halfbrother Johnny (Kevin Dillon) are back cruising the Hollywood landscape in the feature film version of Entourage.
Yes, the gang’s all here, including series regulars Emmanuelle Chriqui, Perrey Reeves and Debi Mazar, a slew of celebrity cameos, a bevy of beautiful babes (including Emily Ratajkowski and Nina Agdal), and the invaluable Jeremy Piven, reprising his award-winning role as Ari Gold, the super-agent-turned-studio head.
The film, directed by co-screenwriter and series creator Doug Ellin, picks up the action right where the series left off in 2011, then proceeds to detail and dissect the show-biz machinations that have led to Vincent directing his first film, an updated version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic simply titled Hyde, in which he stars as a club deejay with a dual personality. (Alas, not enough clips from his “epic” are shown – and what is shown isn’t nearly as funny as one might expect.)
Billy Bob Thornton plays the Texas millionaire – who boasts he’s never seen a single movie he’s helped finance – and Haley Joel Osment is his wormy son, desperate for a taste and determined to make his mark in Hollywood, which puts them at odds with Ari, whose patented outbursts still yield big laughs.
Fans of the series may enjoy seeing the cast go through the motions once more, but Piven’s stellar turn – he steals the movie as handily as he did the show – and some sharp jabs at Tinseltown’s expense aren’t enough to overcome the fact that Entourage worked better in its shorter smallscreen format. Vince and the boys aren’t particularly compelling characters, although some effort has been made to soften them and make them kinder and gentler … to some extent, anyway.
Spy-Jinks with Melissa McCarthy
Writer/producer/director Paul Feig’s third go-’round with Melissa McCarthy (following 2011’s Bridesmaids and 2013’s The Heat) is Spy – a simple title that tells the whole story.
McCarthy plays a dowdy but bright CIA analyst tapped to active duty in order to find a stolen nuclear device that has fallen into the clutches of resident femme fatale Rose Byrne (also encoring from Bridesmaids). It may not be a mission impossible, but it sure looks to be a mission improbable with McCarthy on the case.
Feig succeeds in approximating the look and feel of the James Bond films, including elegant costumes, exotic locations and an opening-credits sequence very much in the 007 vein. The dialogue here, however, is more salty than sophisticated … more shaken than stirred.
McCarthy, whose persona bordered on the obnoxious in The Heat and Identity Thief (2013), finds a much better, more appealing balance here. She cracks wise, to be sure, but she’s also likable, sympathetic and winning.
McCarthy is also backed by a very friendly supporting cast including Jude Law (who was among the names considered to play Bond before Daniel Craig scored the gig), Jason Statham, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney and Peter Serafinowicz, the latter a real scene-stealer as the lovably lascivious Italian agent Aldo.
Feig displays a surer hand with the action sequences than he did in The Heat, but also found it necessary to pad the film’s action to a full twohour running time that drains some of Spy’s bubbly pacing in the latter stages. Spy unquestionably succeeds as a good vehicle for leading lady McCarthy, but Feig doesn’t know when to quit when he’s ahead.