Entourage was very much one of those love-it or loathe-it TV shows (I am firmly in the former camp). It ran for eight seasons on HBO, and was an insider look at life as a Hollywood star. It told the story of acting golden boy Vincent Chase (Grenier) and his "entourage" – childhood mate and now manager E (Connolly), friend and driver Turtle (Ferrara), half-brother and fellow actor Johnny "Drama" (Dillon) and agent Ari Gold (the movie-stealiing Piven). Four years after the TV show ended, we now have the big-screen spinoff – which follows on directly from where the series ended. Which is wonderful news for those of us who loved the show, but not great news for those who never saw a minute.
In a nutshell, the plot sees Ari appointed the head of a movie studio, and the first film he has greenliit will star Vinnie – who also insists on getting his first directing gig. Cue all sorts of problems with the film's main financial backers – Texas cattleman Thornton and his son Osment – as shooting runs over budget as Vinnie stubbornly refuses to show anyone the unfinished movie. And a side-plot sees E dealing with becoming a father with his ex-girlfriend Sloan, while Turtle sets his sights on a date with UFC star Ronda Rousey.
For fan service alone, Entourage is to be roundly applauded. A bonus is that the movie is also very, very funny (the running gag about Turtle's millions is pure gold), and so choc-full of cameos from Hollywood stars playing themselves – keep your eyes peeled for Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba and Kelsey Grammer, among others – that you will need to see it twice to spot them all. But the biggest plus is that with show creator Ellin also writing and directing here, the heart and soul of Entourage is well and truly intact. Yes, it shines a somewhat cynical light on the lifestule of the Holloywood rich and famous, but the show was really about the close friendship of our gang of four, a bunch of boys from Queens in New York who have made good – and still can't quite believe their luck.
The film's biggest plus is probably its biggest negative - those unfamiliar with the world, and characters, off Entourage will not be rushing to the cinema to see it. And another big negative is a little too much screentime for the irksome Piers Morgan, here playing himself. But for those of us who loved nothing more than spending half an hour a week with the boys, this film is a joy to behold - warm, funny, sometimes emotional and always arch and knowing. It's wonderful to be back in this world. And for those of you who loathe Entourage? Let's hug it out, bitch.