I don’t normally do this. I probably don’t even need to do this, but I really feel I have to. I want to defend Entourage, the movie, following the splenetic rant by BBC film critic Mark Kermode in his review of the film on BBC 5Live.
Here is the review in all it’s rant filled, almost hateful, glory if you haven’t watched it yet.
First of all, let me say that Mr Kermode is obviously a far better qualified judge than I of feature films and the movie industry as a whole. But he does seem to suffer from the Alan Green/Mark Lawrenson perception of almost resenting the fact that he paid to watch and comment on something that most people would gladly do for free. I’m not really a fan of film critics at all, because unless it is an obscure Chilean motion picture filmed upside down in which everyone dies in the first four minutes and we are left with utter silence for the next nine hours, then most critics tend to look down their noses at what great numbers of cinema-goers enjoy.
My problem here is that M Kermode really never gives the film a chance. He admits to not having watched or being familiar with the – very successful – series on which the film is based. Fair enough, not everyone has time to do that, and it is clearly not a prerequisite for going to the movie. However, it has to be said that having watched the series you do build up a relationship with the characters. You follow their successes and failures and watch them learn and grow and with that knowledge and familiarity you are better equipped to appreciate the characters than perhaps someone who has no knowledge of the ups and downs of the characters we first met on HBO way back in 2004.
Mr Kermode also admits that after ten seconds of the screening that he told a colleague that he “hated” the film. Again, fair enough, first impressions, each to their own and all that but I find his reasonings hyperbolic and needlessly vicious.
He rails against the misogynistic tone of the film yet doesn’t touch on the fact that this film is set in Hollywood, a place that goes beyond parody in it’s representation and treatment of women (actresses) in real life. He is appalled by the fact that their is nothing bar the “1.1 dimensional” relationship between Ari Gold and his wife that represents women in a favourable light. Well let’s be clear, this film never set out to be perfect, it never set out to be anything other than escapism from the viewpoint of the central, fictional, characters. No one was waiting with bated breath for this film to solve all of the issues for women in the world, no one either was expecting it to be Battleship Potemkin. It’s escapism at the nth degree and that is why a certain section of the population love it. Mr Kermode demands it to be known that the lifestyle propagated in the film is not something that he believes “everyone” wants. Well of course it’s not – if everyone wanted the same thing all of the time the world would be a desperate place. But the point is, a large cross section of society, especially males of a certain age, would view this as the dream lifestyle, and where is the harm in that?
It is escapism as I have already said, and isn’t that what the motion picture industry is all about? Giving you a glimpse into a different life without having to leave the comfort of your seat, be the life of a solider in Iraq, a film projectionist in Giancaldo, Sicily, or a few guys from Queens living their dreams in Hollywood.
And also, despite Mr Kermode’s disgust at the treatment of women in Entourage, he need only review the TV series to see the performances of Perrey Reeves (Melissa Gold), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan), Debi Mazar (Shauna), Cassidy Lehrman (Sarah), Carla Gugino (Amanda), Beverly D’Angelo (Babs) and Constance Zimmer (Dana) among a host of other great actresses who were integral to the success, longevity and sheer enjoyment of the show.
At the end of the day it comes down to personal choice and Mr Kermode decided immediately that he was not a fan of the film. However his need to so effusively criticise, to lambast, and hang out to dry a piece of pure escapism just reeks of self-regard and a conspicuous need for snobbishness. It might not be worthy to appear in the canon of Mr Kermode or other critics revered pictures but the rest of us will enjoy it for what it is if that’s ok.