Over the weekend, I saw Entourage with a bunch of girlfriends. I have to admit that the HBO show, which ran from 2004 to 2011, was a guilty pleasure of mine. Sure, it was over the top, sure it had an almost unhealthy view of capitalism, and sure it was cheesy. But it was also entertaining, it had Ari Gold, and the message about friendship and loyalty ran surprisingly deep.
So four years later, when the big-screen adaption has finally landed, I had to satisfy my curiosity. I purposefully didn’t read any reviews beforehand. I purposefully didn’t check Rotten Tomatoes. I wasn’t expecting much…I just wanted to be entertained for two hours in an air-conditioned cinema. And in a way, I kind of was…but unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Although true to the TV series—down to the opening sequence—Entourage: The Movie all in all falls flat. If Jeremy Piven didn’t deliver Ari Gold’s lines in the Ari Gold way, I doubt this could be even classified as a comedy. The ending is absolutely pathetic (spoiler alert: not Lloyd’s Jewish wedding, I’m all for that, for another reason I will get into later), the celebrity cameos are overcooked, and the awesome foursome’s storylines (bar Drama’s) are tedious. But the biggest issue for me—as you might have guessed—is the film’s representation of women.
Yes, the TV series was no different and the storylines of most of the women—be they models, actresses, or porn stars, this is LA after all—revolved around being Vinnie Chase’s bedfellows. But somehow on the big screen—and in 2015—the overuse of the word “pussy,” the close-ups of asses and concave tummies, and the wide-eyed ingénues all dying to sleep with E (why?) no longer constitute a guilty pleasure—they are straight-up cringeworthy. The Independent compares it to a 90s British lads’ mags, “even if the luxurious settings are a long way removed from the world of Nuts and Loaded.” Well I couldn’t agree more.
The problem is that the women in the film are completely one-dimensional. There’s Sloane, E’s on-off girlfriend who he cheats on in the series with her stepmom. She’s back in the movie as E’s baby momma—but they are not together. Instead E is busy fucking two girls in one day, squeezing them in between pre-natal classes. In one scene, Sloane tells him she’s willing to try again. And just like that, by the end of the film, they’re back together. Happy family. Even though E had sex with Sloane’s stepmom. Right. “The Human Centipede was more sensitively attuned to issues of gender politics,” writes Mark Kermode in The Guardian.
Then there’s Ari’s long-suffering wife who has stood by him throughout all his anger episodes. Forgive, forgive, forgive. He’s given her the life she wants after all; the huge mansion, the designer garb. That’s all a washed-up actress could want, right?
And the rest? Well, there are the two women E beds in the same day. Not only does the audience not know their names, E doesn’t even know them. Vinnie becomes embroiled in a “love triangle” with the spoilt son of a Texan billionaire (played by an unrecognizable Haley Joel Osment) who’s financing his film. Guess who the lady in question, supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, chooses? Well, it’s not chubby Texan boy, but Vinnie Chase, who’s “too good-looking to be sad.” Drama is having phone sex with a woman who has a boyfriend, who catches them in the act and then comes after him (so the storyline is really about the men). And Turtle has got a crush on the fighter Ronda Rousey, who likes him back (!!!), but he screws it all up by going all business managery on her. To set the balance straight, she challenges him to a fight in the ring: he lasts 30 seconds and she will go on a date with him; he last 60 seconds and she’ll “fuck” him. She’s the film’s only strong female character. Physically strong, that is.
Many journalists have referred to the film’s “bros-before-hos” clichés that permeate the storyline, but I like what David Ehrlich wrote in Time Out best: “In 2015, bros only come before hos alphabetically, and the what felt like innocent wish-fulfillment now plays like the masturbatory fantasy of a men’s rights activist.” Ouch.
The sad thing is that Entourage is one in a long list of bros films that portray one-dimensional female characters. Gorgeous, dumb, dependent women, with no complexity or storylines of their own, are symptomatic of most ‘guys’ films that have been made in the past decade. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s love interests in Wedding Crashes (2005) are two pretty sisters: one sweet, one crazy. The yin-yang to every perfect woman, hey? The Ocean’s trilogy has Julia Robert’s character, Tess Ocean, the ex-wife of the main character, whose simply a vehicle for his hatred towards the film’s antagonist; and Catherine Zeta-Jones’s villainous Europol agent, Isabel (read: “villainous.” If she’s not the love interest or sidekick, she’s the “bad guy”). The Departed (2006), which is often cited by most men I meet as one of the best films they’ve ever seen, has Vera Farmiga in the role of Dr Madolyn Madden, who sleeps with both the main characters (I love how this always happens in movies) and is essentially, again, a vehicle for their manly rage. But it’s a gangster movie so the rules are different. In Knocked Up (2007), the women are portrayed as needy and nagging, something director Judd Apatow has been criticized for (perhaps that’s why he made Trainwreck). And should I even mention The Expendables (2010, 2012, 2014)? I don’t think a single woman is even shown onscreen (well, there is but not really as characters).
But these are bros films, they don’t need strong female characters, you say. Wrong. In a way, I find The Expendables almost commendable (I can’t believe this film is a good example of something). Don’t show women at all if you have to, but if you do, make sure they are believably living, breathing human beings. We often discuss here at SheRa Mag that gender equality is everyone’s responsibility—women and men—a sentiment especially gaining popularity with the HeForShe movement. The reason many men grow up disrespecting women and the reason they don’t think gender equality is their fight is because of the images they are getting fed throughout their lives—in porn, in magazines, and in big-budget Hollywood films. I can analyze Entourage and enjoy it (sort of) for what it is, but I don’t know if an impressionable 17-year old lad could with all those close-ups of “pussy.” So besides closing down Hooters and completely overhauling the editorial departments of most men’s mags, I couldn’t think of a better way to educate boys and young men about girls than through realistic representations of women in bros films. Doesn’t it make sense to infiltrate the very thing this demographic is actually paying money to see besides just creating strong female leads in mostly female-driven plots that might go unnoticed by them?
Now, to round off on Entourage… A few days after seeing it, thinking on it, and writing this, the conclusion I come to is that at a time when the world is seeing a revival of feminism, stronger female leads, and women who actually kick ass on shows like Game of Thrones, Entourage comes off nothing less than embarrassing. #TheBoysAreBack…but I’m not sure we ever wanted them to be.
Main image courtesy of esquire.com.