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Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

’VE never watched En­tourage, the long-run­ning HBO com­edy drama loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s ex­pe­ri­ences as an ac­tor in im­age-ob­sessed Hol­ly­wood.

Hav­ing spent 104 te­dious min­utes in the com­pany of this va­pid big screen spin-off, writ­ten and di­rected by show cre­ator Doug Ellin, I’m stag­gered the TV show sur­vived for eight se­ries.

A flimsy plot pro­vides five cen­tral char­ac­ters with myr­iad op­por­tu­ni­ties to belly­ache about their fab­u­lous mil­lion­aire’s lifestyles in the Amer­i­can mecca of film-mak­ing, sur­rounded by gor­geous, scant­ily clad women and de­signer la­bels.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to sym­pa­thise with these in­grates, who have their hearts’ de­sires – in­clud­ing fairy­tale ro­mances – but still want more.

Ellin’s script ven­er­ates greed in each cameo-laden frame, ask­ing us to root for the ego­tis­ti­cal quin­tet as they cruise the streets in a Cadil­lac con­vert­ible, mither­ing about ev­ery lit­tle set­back in their en­vi­able lives.

In the cur­rent age of aus­ter­ity, En­tourage’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to bow down at the al­tar of deca­dence sticks in the throat.

A hi­lar­i­ously wooden open­ing nar­ra­tion from Piers Mor­gan pro­vides an up­date on the char­ac­ters since the TV show ended in 2011.

Hol­ly­wood star Vince Chase (Adrian Gre­nier) has di­vorced his wife af­ter nine days and is seek­ing a new cre­ative out­let as a first-time di­rec­tor of the dystopian fan­tasy, Hyde.

Man­ager Eric (Kevin Con­nolly), half-brother Drama (Kevin Dil­lon) and pal Tur­tle (Jerry Fer­rara) sup­port Vince’s dream, while wheeler dealer agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is now a film stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive, who has stumped up 100 mil­lion US dol­lars to fi­nance Vince’s bold vi­sion.

The pro­ject is over bud­get and Vince needs more funds to com­plete his mas­ter­piece.

Texan multi-mil­lion­aire Larsen McCre­dle (Billy Bob Thorn­ton), who bankrolls the film stu­dio, isn’t pleased to learn about de­lays to Hyde.

“If it fails, you go down in flames quicker than the Hin­den­burg,” Larsen warns Ari.

The Texan despatches his son Travis (Ha­ley Joel Os­ment) to Hol­ly­wood to view an un­fin­ished cut and de­cide whether to meet the ex­tra bud­get de­mands.

En­tourage feels like an elon­gated TV episode that has mis­tak­enly found its way into a cin­ema pro­jec­tor.

Gags re­peat­edly fall flat, a sub­plot in­volv­ing the big gay wed­ding of Ari’s for­mer as­sis­tant (Rex Lee) verges on of­fen­sive and the cast strug­gle to find at­trac­tive traits in their self-ob­sessed pro­tag­o­nists.

To em­pha­sise the point­less­ness of the en­tire en­ter­prise, af­ter 90 min­utes of tedium Vince and co sud­denly re­mem­ber they have sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars ly­ing around and can meet the short­fall them­selves.

As the end cred­its ap­proach – though not quickly enough – the film clum­sily at­tempts a self-ref­er­en­tial wink by invit­ing the char­ac­ters to con­tem­plate a TV show about their bro­man­tic es­capades.

“Dullest thing I’ve ever heard,” dead­pans Ari.

It’s a rare mo­ment of hon­esty and clar­ity from Ellin amid the dross.

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