Entourage

The Beastie Boys used a sample on their song "And Me" that gets stuck in my head all the time: "I wish there was some way I could be outside playing basketball in the rain and not get wet. Now wouldn't that be great?" Yes! Yes, it would be great if we could get everything we wanted in our lives without any complications or trade offs...

Except, no, not really. I mean, it's fine for a child to think that everything should be perfect and peaceful all the time, but adults should realize that those little compromises are what keeps our humanity in tact. It is impossible to live a friction-free life without slowly transitioning from a human being to an absolute goddamned monster. And if you don't believe that's true then you should watch the Entourage movie, because it is about five "humans" who are allowed to rampage around L.A. like unchecked ids with legs and they are awful.

Let's start with Vince, the pretty boy actor who is trying to direct his first movie, a $100 million dollar monstrosity called Hyde. It is a retread of the overused Jekyl and Hyde story, except this time Hyde is a rave DJ in a dystopian future, because that's what the kids are into these days, you know? The one clip we get to see of Hyde involves Vince-as-Hyde strapping a futuristic gun onto his wrist and shooting globules of drugs directly into the crowd's mouths as the police try to crash their party. I guess we are supposed to think that a t-shirt canon that shoots molly is awesome, but I actually side with the cops here, because I don't like the idea of a madman indiscriminately dispensing drugs to his cult of followers using an explosive device. But what do I know? I was never much of the raver type.

Now, in a normal world, Hyde would be a total failure. It is an obviously bad idea that looks like it was poorly executed. It is a movie that from a first time director that has gone massively overbudget. Even though it is a cheesy sci-fi movie it has been scheduled to debut during awards season against all of Hollywood's prestige pictures. But Entourage is set in a world where you can play basketball in the rain and not get wet, and thus Hyde goes on to make $450 million at the box office and win a bunch of Golden Globes, thus proving that every bad idea that Vince ever had was actually golden. I guess we can all look forward to Hyde 2: Frankenstein Bonnaroo, which will surely become the most profitable movie of all time before it wins as many Oscars as Schindler's List and Ben Hur combined.

But enough about Vince: let's talk about Vince's older brother Johnny Drama, whose big problem is that his acting career has stalled out. Of course, unlike most out-of-work actors he he still lives in a mansion and he never has to get a day job, but that doesn't mean his life is without hardships. You see, a video clip of Drama jerking off during Skype-sex got leaked online by a jealous rival. Now, obviously that would be mortifying for anyone, but it is particularly bad for Drama because he was already worried that everyone in Hollywood already saw him as a has-been and a joke. Fortunately his existential crisis only lasts about a scene and a half, because as soon as he gets to his therapist's office for an emergency session he gets a call informing him that his friend E's ex-wife just had her baby. As soon as he hears that little bit of news he has an epiphany about what is really important in life, which is not massive professional humiliation, but rather, being tangentially related to people who just pooped out an offspring. And anyway, Drama needn't have worried, because he ends up winning one of Hyde's many Golden Globes despite the fact that he is a pretty bad actor in a terrible movie in a disreputable genre.

Speaking of E: this movie acts as if E is a prince among men because he is more into relationships than he is into casual sex with anonymous bikini models, but his good intentions don't matter because he doesn't live up to them. For example: immediately after E got married he cheated on his wife... with one of her relatives... when she was three months pregnant... And after she broke up with him he immediately turned around and started a relationship with a bleached blonde with fake tits. The fact that these are not-one night stands doesn't mean that they were acceptable; he is still being dishonest and manipulative to every woman he meets, which is gross.

And just in case you were worried that E would never find true love - don't be, because his wife forgives him right as she goes into labor. Which makes total sense. After all, how could anyone stay mad at a drama casing a-hole at a time in their life when they absolutely do not have the time or energy for any sort of distraction?

(Incidentally, in addition to sleeping with the wife, his wife's relative, and his girlfriend, E also sleeps with a stranger at a party. But that one wasn't his fault, because Johnny Drama gave him some water that was spiked with Molly and Viagra, and that meant that E had a boner that wouldn't quit at a time when he had no inhibitions. Fortunately for him, he happened to run into a stranger who was totally down for no-strings-attached sex at the exact moment he had a desperate need to get off. He didn't even need to call any of his three ongoing sexual partners all of whom were currently mad at him! Side note: his hook up ended up being roommates with his mistress, but they both ended up being cool with it. Niiiice, bro.)

Of course, E isn't the only Entourage boy who seems to have an inexplicable ability to attract the opposite sex. There's also Turtle, who apparently used to be overweight but he got super fit around the time that he started a Tequila company that made him an ungodly sum of money. You know, like people do.

Anyway, Turtle's main storyline in Entourage is that he really wants to date MMA bad-ass Ronda Rousey, who you would think would be pretty busy, what with being a champion in an up-and-coming sport, as well as a budding spokesperson and actor. (In case you didn't know, she has a pretty cool fight scene in Furious Seven.) But nope, Rousey immediately agreed to go on a date with Turtle. Unfortunately, before they even sat down to dinner Turtle made the very common mistake of trying to talk her into starting her own tequila company, which made her think that he was trying to hustle her. If I only had a dollar for every time a slim millionaire ruined my date by presenting me with investment opportunities I might actually have enough money to invest in one of those opportunities...

Fortunately Rousey is only mad at Turtle for a few minutes, because he immediately shows up at her training facility and makes her a bet: if he can last thirty seconds in the octagon with her then she will have to go on another date with him. She nearly breaks his arm, but he manages to outlast the clock... And then at the hospital he is told he has nearly unbreakable bones, so apparently he was never in any real danger while he was fighting the toughest lady on the planet on her home turf. The fact that the doctors failed to give him a sticker and a lollipop for being such a brave boy during his visit to the scary hospital is probably grounds for a malpractice suit.

Finally, the fifth Entourage guy is Ari Gold, the man who runs the movie studio that is bankrolling Hyde. Unlike Vince, Drama, E and Turtle, Ari doesn't spend most of this movie treating women like dirt. No, he spends most of this movie treating a homosexual man like dirt. Specifically, he is super condescending to his former assistant, a gay Asian dude named Lloyd. (For example: Lloyd is in Ari's phone as "Gayasian Lloyd". As Ron Burgundy might say: you stay classy San Diego.)

Anyway, Lloyd is about to get married and he needs someone to give him away at the altar. He wants Ari to do it, but Ari is hesitant because he obviously hates Lloyd and thus has no interest in doing him any favors. It all comes to a head when Lloyd tearfully tells Ari all about how his dad hasn't spoken to him since he came out of the closet, and how Ari is the closest thing he has to a dad these days, and how important it is for him to have his father figure at his wedding if he can't have his actual father there. Now, if I was Ari hearing this confession, I would be asking myself: "do I only remind this man of his hateful monster of a dad because I'm constantly yelling homophobic "jokes" at him?" But that's not what Ari thinks. No, he thinks "I am a good person who puts people first, so I will let Lloyd have his wedding at my house, but only if he agrees to make it a Jewish wedding. After all, my house, my God. By the way, I'm an atheist who only prays to God when I want things."

In other words, Entourage is basically a non-stop exercise in wish-fulfillment. If they meet a hot woman she will want to sleep with them. If their wives get mad at them all they have to do is offer up a halfhearted apology and they will be forgiven. If they run into an A-list celebrity or an all star athlete they will automatically be treated as an equal. If they misbehave at the office their underlings will still treat them like heroes. If they deign to make a movie it will be a masterpiece that is met with huge box office returns and universal critical acclaim - and as a bonus they won't even have to do any hard work to get the damn thing done; it will just magically appear in it's completed form. If they found a genie in a bottle there isn't much it could do to improve their lives.

However, that genie would have to work overtime to fix up the lives of all their friends and acquaintances. It would have to go around fixing hurt feelings constantly. It would have to go around and zap away untold STDs and unwanted pregnancies. It would have to turn back time to an era when the idea of a boss shouting sodomy jokes at his gay assistant was socially acceptable. It would have to buy up thousands and thousands of tickets to a movie that no one would actually want to see, or at least break into some high level accounting software and rig the box office numbers.

That's why I don't really let myself dwell for too long on the sentiment expressed in that Beastie Boys sample: yeah, sure, my life would be easier if I could do anything I wanted at any time without any consequences. But that easiness would come at a terrible cost, because the only way to live an uncomplicated life is to spoon all your problems onto someone else's plate. That's what the Entourage boys do: they go out and play basketball in the rain, then they dump the excess water on their girlfriends, on their assistants, even occasionally on their enemies. (Although when that happens it almost seems like an accident; it turns out that the financier who is withholding the funds that Vince and Ari need to finish Hyde was being a dick because he was mad that Vince slept with a specific supermodel before he could sleep with her. Suddenly the boys see their antagonist in a surprisingly sympathetic light - they might not understand what it feels to have to go to work or to fail at anything, but they certainly know what it feels like to want to fuck a hot chick.)

There is some deep animal part of me that wants to buy into what this movie is selling, but I just can't let myself do it. I know that failure is important in life, because it transforms raw talents into great artists. I know that struggling is important, because it builds character. Most importantly, I know that empathy is important, because without it we would all be reduced to acting like animals. If you have to sell out your humanity to join the Entourage - well, then you can count me out. I'd rather be a flesh and blood man who can't play basketball in the rain than a magic monster who never gets a drop of water on him.

Winner: Draw

Entourage on IMDB