Entourage: Season Three, Part Two

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Director: Julian Farino, Mack Mylod, Daniel Attias,

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Entourage: Season Three, Part Two Movie Review


It's next to impossible to discuss the HBO series Entourage without comparing it to the network's other series. You can call it a careerist fantasy that shows what the perfect life would be if one could leave nowhere, Queens, for Hollywood and attain fame and fortune without having to leave your boys behind; a guide to achieving that perfect merging of escapist wealth and friendship, like Sex and the City for men. Or you can go the Curb Your Enthusiasm route by saying the show similarly limns, with minute and quite expertly calibrated precision, the highs and lows nervy East Coasters living the sun-dappled entertainment industry life, with all its quicksand terrors and neurotic joys (Entourage being more interested in the upside, obviously, than the uber-pessimistic Enthusiasm); they even both feature high-tension scenes during temple services. Entourage even shares a certain similarity with The Sopranos in its eerily dead-on pop culture references -- not to mention particularly grating theme songs. The show has a mimic quality that allows it to somehow slide underneath the cultural radar without attracting the same kind of heat as those other touchstone shows. That is, the popularity of Entourage isn't then necessarily written up in magazines and op-ed pages as a sign of (fill in the blank); it arrives with low expectations and leaves a half-hour later, those expectations most always met, with a little change to spare.

That's not to say that HBO doesn't know how to get the most out of its most Maxim-reader-friendly property, a fact perfectly well displayed in the channel's decision to split up the DVD release of season three into two parts, nicely maximizing revenue. The second part, containing the piddling last eight episodes on two discs, is barely enough to get you through a long and dreary Saturday, but is nevertheless a worthy distraction from the messy realities of life.

The first dozen episodes of the third season were a roller-coaster ride, with hot rising star Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier, getting farther on a grin and nice eyes than just about any living actor) surfing the crest of popularity coming off starring in the James Cameron blockbuster Aquaman and then casting around in frantic fashion for the next step in his career. Part two opens with him and his team of boys from Queens having finally firing his manager Ari (the ever-nervy Jeremy Piven) and gone with ballsy new manager Amanda -- played with a hard-boiled and smart sensuality by the always-welcome Carla Gugino -- and trying to get Vincent into his dream project: playing Pablo Escobar in the epic three-hour bloodbath Medellin.

The string of amusing, but rarely hilarious, episodes follows Vincent and the gang as they spar with Amanda over the kind of film he'll do next: She wants him to star in an Edith Wharton period piece, while Ari is still sniffing around trying to win back Vincent by making him believe that the in-perpetual-turnaround Medellin is still a going concern. Each member of the Queens crew gets their own subplot, though only that of Vincent's older brother Johnny "Drama"'s (Kevin Dillon) pathetic but somewhat touching fight to stay out of Vincent's shadow by getting back into the acting game himself (in a godawful, CW-looking Ed Burns TV drama), really registers. Meanwhile, Ari jitters about on the outside, conniving with a trust-fund brat played to a tee by Adam Goldberg, sparring with his hapless couples therapist (Nora Dunn), and berating his gay assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee, adorable) in a way that clearly registers as true affection. It was obvious that Piven had to be brought back into the fold at least somewhat, as it is his nervy tension that keeps the Queens boys (and the show itself, by extension) from just lazing around on the couch and doing Seinfeld-ian riffs on nothing all day long.

This particular arc picks up steam as Medellin starts to seem like less of a pipe-dream and more of an actual possibility for the borderline obsessed Vincent, even with all the allusions to the tortured making of Apocalypse Now looming (it's an extremely self-conscious show about extremely self-conscious people; they know everything's been done before). As always, there's romantic tension that occasionally threatens to drive a wedge between the tight-knit guy quartet, but ultimately, the girls are minor distractions at best: Medellin's the thing.

HBO's packaging of Entourage Season Three, Part Two is unfussy and well-put-together, concentrating on the essentials much as it usually does with its DVD presentations of The Wire. The two-disc set features a Museum of Television and Radio panel discussion, the standard behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, and three episodes with commentary from Jerry Ferrara, Dillon, Kevin Connolly, and producer/creator/writer Doug Ellin.

Fetch me a cheese plate.


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