Review: “ENTOURAGE” (2015) Warner Bros.

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“The Boys are back in town” — Spread the word around — The Boys are back– The Boys are back…

From the first opening scenes I’m guessing most will know immediately whether or not they will enjoy this film as before the opening credits even roll out we are caught up in the middle of a huge celebrity filled party scene as “Vincent Chase” (Adrian Grenier) is on a multi-millionaire’s yacht celebrating the end of his 9 day marriage with his friends zooming over on a speedboat to join him with nary a girl who’s not supermodel beautiful in sight. Life’s clearly a bitch for these guys..
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Entourage – based on the very popular HBO series that ran for eight seasons, is a fun, fast-paced, energetic look at both sides of the Hollywood machine. Side 1: The glamorous side of fast cars, nice homes & copious amounts of sex; Side 2: takes a really good peek at what goes on in behind-the-scenes deals that go down just to get films made. At 104 minutes long, there is not a moment wasted in packing in a ton of stuff into this glittering ride of a movie. The party scenes are fun, the dialogue is sharp and biting and the actors inhabit their respective characters well.

So remember ‘Medellin’? The film fiasco that was portrayed on the series that almost put a halt to the career of Vinnie Chase. This film picks up from the that as we once again takes a look at the lives of movie star Vincent Chase, his agent (now studio executive) “Ari Gold” (Jeremy Piven) and his group of cronies “Eric aka ‘E'” (Kevin Connolly), “Johnny Drama” (Kevin Dillon) and “Turtle” (Jerry Ferrera) who surround him. This time, the boys are making Ari’s first blockbuster picture ‘HYDE’ with Vince being not only the lead actor but in the directors chair as well. Everything threatens to go off the rails when the movie goes over budget. To get more money for the production, Ari has to go and deal with difficult Texan financier “Larsen McCredle” (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son “Travis” (Haley Joel Osment). Meanwhile, E is dealing with multiple pregnancies, Turtle is trying to court UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, Vince is dealing with his relationship with Emily Ratajkowski and directing his first major film for Ari, and Drama is coping with his stagnant career and a leaked sex tape. It’s all light fun, accompanied by fast cars, LA icon sightings and an absurd amount of celebrity cameos that if you blink you just might miss one of them.
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With various plotlines moving throughout the film, the party scene that occupies much of the middle section of the film is fantastic and the script really starts to move at a faster, funnier pace. But it’s always Ari who brings the film together. He is by far the most compelling character in the film, always ranting and raving, shouting an incessant amount of profanity at his co-workers while dealing with crazy financiers. Piven is a true scene-stealer, spouting off as much as he can and having a lot of fun with the role. As for the other four principle stars, they’re great together, and while it might take you a moment to recognize child-star Haley Joel Osmont, he does really well in this unexpected character turn with perhaps the meatiest co-star role out of all the actors, getting the chance to portray an immature Texan kid overwhelmed by the celebrity lifestyle.
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While this film is far from a masterpiece by any means, it did keep me smiling throughout with some very funny moments, great dialogue and simply put – it just all works. It’s a good summer diversion that delivers everything you want from a movie like this.. a good time.

B-
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Screening Monday, June 1st, 2015 at Pacific Grove Theatres courtesy of Warner Bros.
Nationwide release: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

“GET HARD” (2015) ~ Warner Bros.

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I didn’t go into this screening with magically high hopes for a genius comedy here, I think you know from the trailer that’s not what you’re going to get, but I was looking for a few laughs. And it completely delivers on that aspect as that’s pretty much exactly what you get ~ ‘a few laughs’ ~ but then you can probably guess that from the trailer also.

So the best way for me to possibly describe Get Hard is to call it a socially acceptable racial observation humor disguised as a buddy flick. We’ve seen this formula before in comedies that worked really well like Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy or 48 Hours. All funny movies..but time has made the landscape different nowadays and I hear the movie is getting some backlash for this exact reason. Basically the movie looks at how different races and social classes perceive each other through the eyes of stereotypical white, black & hispanic characters. The only thing I can say is just relax and realize this is just supposed to be entertainment not a social study on life today and if you can’t do that, which I understand also, then this probably isn’t the film you should go see.

We start off with Will Ferrell as “James King” an ultra rich stock broker who is engaged to his boss’ “Martin” (Craig T. Nelson) daughter “Alissa” (Allison Brie). Everything in life is going swimmingly for him it seems, that is until James is arrested for multiple counts of fraud ala Bernie Madoff. Unlike Madoff, James is actually completely innocent and as he refuses to take a plea deal, he ends up with a maximum sentence of ten years in San Quentin State Prison with the Judge giving him thirty days to settle all his affairs. Knowing that he has a huge probability of something happening to him in jail, he hires the only black guy he knows, “Darnell” the guy who washes his car played by Kevin Hart. James also just assumes Darnell has been to prison just because he’s black, but because Darnell needs the money to move into a new house, he just follows along with this line of thinking as it looks like an easy street to get the money he needs. Darnell now has less than thirty days to get James prepared for the next ten years of his life in prison..but remember it’s a life he really knows nothing about having truthfully never been to jail or even gotten so much as a parking ticket.

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The movie is filled with quite a few outrageous and somewhat memorable scenes mostly involving the ‘prison training’ of Ferrell’s character King. The movie starts with Ferrell’s ass in your face and it never backs down at trying to be funny (key word = trying), though a lot of it is oh-so-obligatory comedy rounds. I don’t want to spoil any of the funny scenes, as they are mostly during the first half of the film with one scene in particular that did have almost everyone (including me) gut laughing in their seats. But after that, I mostly just did a lot of eye-rolling at how just bad & dumb some of it really was.

The biggest fault of Get Hard is that it was completely & utterly predictable. The moment Ferrell is sentenced to jail, it was quite obvious why he was arrested in the first place. The movie did have one or two original scenes/situations, but they were also pretty much by the ‘comedy’ book with the once again obligatory cliched moments of stereotypical racial and gay jokes. We all get it, all rich white people think blacks are criminals and gay people all meet up in public to give each other oral sex..blah blah blah..
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The one highlight for me was that Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart really DO work fantastically together. I’m not going to lie, but I wasn’t expecting much from this movie but what absolutely makes this movie work even somewhat is due to the performances of Ferrell and Hart. Not that these guys aren’t funny..but let’s be truthful, both of them have played the same character over & over in most of their last few films. They thankfully went against some of their usual schtick of Hart screaming everything & the “Kevin Hart short jokes” which are just tired, were barely acknowledged As usual, Will Ferrell is a lunatic. He goes all out being over the top, but not in an obnoxious way. Hart is more of a straight man to Ferrell and that to me, is what made this relationship work well. T.I. as Darnell’s cousin “Russell” also does a quick turn here as leader of the ‘Crenshaw Kings’ whom Darnell comes to for advice and James actually tries to join when he shows them legit stock market tips and gets the street name moniker of ‘Mayo’ in a couple of fun, lighter moments.
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I wouldn’t say that Get Hard is anything close to rip-roaring, gut-busting hilarious, nor is it trying to reinvent the comedy wheel..but it has it’s funny moments and if you are fans of either Ferrell or Hart and looking to kill an hour and a half or so at the movies, then you will be fine. But go in with an open mind because remember, it’s just supposed to be comedy not a discussion of social problems and if you can go in with that mindset, I think it does what it sets out to do and that’s try to make people laugh.

Grade: C
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(See grading scale)