'Entourage': Here's how the movie could succeed

Some movie versions of TV shows have won over audiences and critics, while others have been misfires. If 'Entourage' doesn't take itself too seriously and has an original story, it could succeed.

Claudette Barius/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Entourage' stars Jeremy Piven (r.) and Perrey Reeves (l.).

The characters of “Entourage” are returning to pop culture with the release of the movie of the same name, which is now in theaters.

The HBO series, which debuted in 2004, centered on actor Vince (Adrian Grenier), his manager “E” (Kevin Connolly), Vince’s brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), Vince's friend Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and Vince’s agent Ari (Jeremy Piven). It aired for eight seasons and was created by Doug Ellin, who also wrote and directed the new movie. The movie “Entourage” finds Vince directing a movie for Ari, who is now the head of a studio. When the film runs into financial difficulty, Ari tries to win over a Texas man (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son (Haley Joel Osment) and have them come on board as financiers. 

According to USA Today, Vince is loosely based on actor Mark Wahlberg and Ferrara said of the movie’s events in an interview with the Associated Press, “A lot of those stories are coming from Mark Wahlberg's crew or Doug himself or Doug's crew, or us.” 

In an interview with the AP, Ellin himself said of the stories he hears from his acquaintances, “They tell me to include everything. It's weird. I think now that the whole world has gone to reality TV, nobody wants to hide anything anymore. Everyone wants to give everything away.” 

The show has been off the air for several years, but it comes after the successful HBO TV-to-movie adaptation “Sex and the City,” which came out in 2008. The second movie was, however, less successful with both critics and at the box office. Critics said one of the second movie's weaknesses was a lack of a compelling story, with Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writing that the narrative was "barely there." The "Entourage" movie will need a strong story to win over audiences.

What else makes a movie adaptation of a TV show successful? One clue may lie with the success of the “21 Jump Street” movie, which was released in 2012 and became a hit. The film was funny on its own, said many critics, but also fully owned the fact that it was based on a TV show. Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday called the movie “self-aware… the lack of originality or creative ingenuity that ‘21 Jump Street’ symbolizes is addressed head-on early in the film.” 

Having fun with it seems to be key, if the misfire of 2012’s “Dark Shadows” is any indication. The film was based on the 1960s horror TV show and Monitor film critic Peter Rainer wrote that the movie, which found vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) awakening in the 1970s, “is best when it focuses on Barnabas’s culture shocks in this brave new world. Depp has fun with the character’s bafflements without camping it up. What’s missing overall is the sense of fun [Tim] Burton once evinced in films like ‘Beetlejuice.’ Or, if not that, then more of the doomy grandeur of, say, ‘Batman.’” 

If “Entourage” spins a quality story and doesn’t take itself too seriously, the film may join the list of TV shows that successfully made the jump to the multiplex.

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