Armed with eight seasons of backstory and copious AXE Body Spray, the profoundly moneyed douchebag heroes of “Entourage” this weekend attempted to pull a “Sex and the City” and storm the box office with a big screen crossover that did little but celebrate a questionable lifestyle. And yet even with a two-day start they failed to come close to “Spy,” the latest Melissa McCarthy vehicle, grossing $10.4 million to “Spy”’s $30 million. This happened despite her spending much of the movie not in designer digs but looking like a variety of frumpy Midwestern housewives — or, as McCarthy’s character points out about one of her get-ups, “like someone’s homophobic aunt.”
What does this say about our culture, especially compared to 2004, when “Entourage” premiered? And perhaps more importantly, what does this mean for “Wahlburgers,” the reality show that was gratuitously pimped in a 30-second cameo by producer Mark Wahlberg? But back to the first point, here are some things the film’s perhaps surprising underperformance says about our times.
Bros are a dying breed
The boys of “Entourage” may be exactly the types who run Hollywood, but on the screens of the films they green light they’re thin on the ground. The show and the new movie are just about the only entertainments that offer characters this wealthy, this successful, this privileged, this white and this douchey, all of them living in a bubble where their every want is an Ari Gold shoutfest away and where the women are either easy obtained objects with fake boobs or just crazy. What other films these days feature a subplot where a guy bangs two broads, is angrily confronted by both of them when they find out and is supposed to come off as the nice guy? Is there any outlet these days for the rich and sexist?
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Indeed, if this Instagram stat is to be believed — and it frankly doesn’t look lopsided enough — the gender split is far more male than female. Even Grenier himself was worried about that, as Hollywood finally seems to be aware that women comprise not only half of the global population but half of the moviegoing audience. He even claims that the film has “strong female characters,” which may be technically true; after all, Debi Mazar, a reliably outspoken actress, does swing by for about 25 seconds, though it might be 27. But it’s clear “Entourage” is Stone Age in the movies, if not exactly in life, and especially not in Hollywood. Still, that may change, because…
People know women are funny now
This isn’t the age when it was a surprise that women could tell jokes at all; it’s an age when an old school type like Jerry Lewis gets in trouble for saying women aren’t funny, not just because that’s sexist but because it’s simply incorrect. “Spy” is only the latest reminder that Melissa McCarthy is a box office god, and ditto that she’s not only funny herself but free of ego. Whereas someone like Mike Myers is the only one allowed to be funny in a Mike Myers movie, McCarthy allows a “solo” movie like “Spy” (or “Tammy”) to be a showcase for her talents as well as those of Rose Byrne and British comedian Miranda Hart, both of whom arguably upstage the main star. (Ditto Jason Statham and Peter Serafinowicz.) This is an era when we want to see a diversity of faces given room to kill it, to show us different ways to be funny that get away from the hetero/male/white norm. “Spy” is a great example of a group of diverse people coming together to create a great variety of jokes.
Wealth porn isn’t what it once was
“Entourage” has often been described as a male “Sex and the City,” and that’s not wrong. Like that series, “Entourage” has seen its characters become not just more successful but unimaginably wealthy, at which point all they think to do is show off their toys. Both “Sex and the City” movies have long sequences where all they do is look at shoes; “Entourage” has sequences that look at all the hot women who flock to dudes with wealth, usually in some sprawling mansion or on a yacht in Ibiza. There has been over the years a growing awareness of chasmic income inequality. That makes simply gawking at the lives of the rich and famous less a transportive/aspirational experience, as it was with movies in the Depression, than an unpleasant stewing in the lives of the out of touch.
The show declined over the years
Also like “Sex and the City,” “Entourage” began as a show about outsiders who found themselves in an alternate universe. Carrie et al. were successful but not yet inured by their environment. Carrie used to pick her teeth and hit the streets in comfortable rags. Likewise, Vincent and buds were new to Los Angeles and still surprised by the Bacchanalia that was Hollywood. But that lifestyle doesn’t remain a surprise for long, and so the show inevitably, obliviously descended into a show about people who were just rich. That’s not just out of touch with most viewers; it’s boring. And like “Sex and the City” its vision of excess wasn’t just tone deaf but antithetical to good drama and good television/movie watching.
TV is not cinema
As you’ve been told a couple billion times, we live in a Golden Age of television. TV doesn’t need to be legitimized by movies; actors don’t need to cross over to the big screen and “The Wire” doesn’t need a movie to cement is lofty reputation. Doing “Entourage” as a movie only stresses how different the mediums have become. To get something out of the film you need to have spent eight seasons with Vincent and company, otherwise it just looks like a transmission from Planet Douche. And not offering any in to newbies only stresses how lazy the film is, playing like a handful of episodes smashed together and with the same bland visual style. That being said, “In the Loop” — the film that sort of acted as a bridge between the ace British political satire “The Thick of It” and its American semi-spin-off “Veep” — is a definite exception to this. And if anyone wants to make a “Deadwood” film the world would definitely be a better place. Better sweary psychopaths than bros.