REVIEW: Entourage

5 06 2015

In great works of narrative storytelling, an expertly crafted first line should set the tone for what lies ahead.  Whether “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice…,” these purposeful pieces of prose prepared readers properly.

The same goes for film, too.  And while the filmic brand extension of television’s “Entourage” is far from great, its creator Doug Ellin certainly knew how to kick off the movie.  As Vincent Chase’s posse approaches his supermodel-filled yacht off the coast of Ibiza, Johnny “Drama” giddily remarks, “I could jerk it before we get there!”

The whole movie resembles masturbation, a series of self-serving pleasures delivered on demand.  For an hour and 45 minutes, a pornographically extreme string of celebrity cameos decks out a contemporary “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”  Ellin reunites the entourage for an orgy of wealth, fame, and fully exposed breasts.  So, in essence, nothing changed from show to movie.

I am certainly not immune to the pleasures provided by such a film, but I have to acknowledge that such a masturbatory form of pleasure is juvenile, easy, and even a little lazy.  It’s hollow.  Ellin presents no compelling reason to resuscitate these dormant characters except to have them revel in the same debauched antics that occupied them for eight seasons (and are a mere Google search away for everyone else).

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REVIEW: Tusk

25 09 2014

TuskI see so many movies that it’s easy to slip in to the comfortable delusion that I’m an unflappable moviegoer.  Nothing can scare me (save a cheap jump-out), nothing can shock me … you get how the fallacy operates.

Then I went to see “Tusk,” and I got an unfortunate reminder that I can still stare agape at the screen.  This came at the same time as remembering that there are certain sights I cannot unsee.  Here, that sight was Justin Long enveloped in a walrus suit made of human flesh.  (Because his ’70s porno mustache wasn’t frightening enough.)

Not that it was any more disgusting or scary than anything else I’d seen before.  I mainly sat in stunned, stupefied silence that someone had this idea and felt compelled to bring it to life for a paying audience.  I just wish there were some way to withdraw the $7.75 admission charge from financing, and thus implicitly encouraging, Kevin Smith’s bizarre and puerile stoner fantasies.

It was more than just the nasty walrus at its center that ticked me off about “Tusk,” though.  The entire enterprise seems ill-advised for a feature-length film.  Its beginning concept, the unsuspecting person stumbling into a den of horror and depravity, has been done by everything from “Psycho” to “Misery.”  Smith’s crazy of choice is Michael Parks’ Howard Howe, a Canadian backwoods-dweller intent on finding a man who he can transmute into the walrus, Mr. Tusk, with whom he fell in love with decades prior.

Smith’s take finds nothing new in the previously trodden territory, and the odd narrative structure and bloated length compound the imbecility of his specific story.  “Tusk” is the kind of idea that might make for a provocative YouTube video, but it lacks the depth and intrigue to sustain its 100 minute duration.  Even Johnny Depp, who shows up about an hour into the film in a baffling supporting role, cannot enliven the dead organism.

“Tusk” is all superfluous blubber with no meat.  Smith means to startle, but without providing any good cause for doing so, all he can do is elicit groans.  D1star