Friday, June 5, 2015

Not Your Typical Spook, Melissa McCarthy Saves the Day and Snatches the Case in 'Spy' ... In 'Entourage,' the Madcap Ventures of Vince, Ari and the Gang Continue on Big Screen

WHEN most people think of spies, a certain image comes to mind. A handsome British (or Irish) guy playing James Bond. On assignment in some exotic locale, performing gravity-defying feats, making near-death escapes and romancing beautiful women.

Most people do not imagine a spy working in a Washington, D.C. basement, feeding intel into the ear of a James Bond type in a danger zone thousands of miles away.

Aside from Mata Hari, most people do not think of women as spies.

Most people do not think of overweight people as spies. Of – truth be told – spies being possibly morbidly obese.

Perhaps, in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of our minds, we know spies don't fit that lone handsome-guy stereotype. But this knowledge resides in the dank, dark subconscious, rarely exposed to the light of awareness.

Most do not think of someone like Melissa McCarthy as a spy – not in real life, certainly not in the movies. No. They. Do. Not.

Most must reorder their thinking. (See video above).

In “Spy,” she is desk agent Susan Cooper, the one in the ear of her partner and field agent Bradley Fine played by Jude Law.

On occasion, Susan has saved Bradley's life, earning her dinner in fancy French restaurants and interesting pieces of jewelry. A hoot, "Spy," opens in U. S. theaters today … More shortly

"Spy" is Rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity; visit to learn more about the film.

More Exploits From the 'Entourage' Fans Love to Love

Clockwise from top: Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Connolly in "Entourage." Photos from "Entourage" Facebook page.

Vince has a new, failing marriage and is about to move into a new direction … Ari is a top dog … E has female problems, including baby mama drama ...Turtle also stands for Tequila, Titan and Trim … Johnny Drama … well some people never change.

The boys are back! … in film “Entourage,” based on the Emmy-winning HBO series, opened Wednesday in U.S. theaters.

The film pick up several months after the series ended. Its main storyline is whether Vince's (Adrian Grenier) directorial debut, “Hyde,” a modern-day take on the "Jekyll and Hyde" story, will wreck his acting and directing career as well as Ari's (Jeremy Piven) fledgling career as a studio chief.

The film is over budget, and Vince asks Ari for more money. Its financiers Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his knuckle-headed son, Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment), are unhappy but relent with strings attached. Naturally, contretemps ensue as Vince tries to finish the film.

Amid all of this, the boys party and wench and generally be good friends to each other. They converge to try to help E (Kevin Connolly) with his women woes.

Meanwhile, Drama (Kevin Dillon) does what he does best: creates a lot of unnecessary drama, including paying too much attention to himself. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) may still be having problems getting women, though he's nearly half his former self. Speaking of which, kudos to the actor for keeping the weight off, dating to 2010.

Of his weight loss JF has said: “I got on the scale and I weighed around 203. I’m only 5’7. I was about to turn 30, and I wasn’t active anymore. So I started working with a nutritionist and a trainer. I played basketball twice a week. And soon it all just became a habit for me. I became addicted to something good for a change.”

Yours Truly is a fan of “Entourage,” the series, though I can clearly see the sexism, bordering on misogyny. Ok, reality check: the series is misogynistic, though not in mean-spirited way, if that is possible. Generally, women do not fair well.

It is no different in the film. I forgive a lot, because I often remind myself that series “Entourage” is based on the exploits of Mark Wahlberg (as with the series, MW is a producer on the film) – one of myriad cameos in the film – and his boys after he left Boston (Dorchester) for Hollywood.

The boorish behavior depicted is not unlike that of many young, up and coming and successful Hollywood actors&posse. One reads far worse in a Jackie Collins novel … It is what it is.

Incidentally, “Entourage” always struck me as a counterpoint – a rebuttal – to another HBO property: “Sex in the City.” In fact, I christened it “Sex in the City of Angels.” Both can be polarizing and have a very loyal following.

The uninitiated will probably be put off by film “Entourage,” an extended version of the series, albeit with less vim and vigor. It's as if series creator and film director, producer and screenwriter Doug Ellin dumbed it down a dozen degrees to capture more audience.

At this writing, the film has made about $7.3 million on around 3,100 U.S. screens. These numbers do not suggest a blockbuster.

Do recall that “Entourage” is an HBO vehicle. In and of itself, this suggests an edginess that would not translate on the commercial networks. Now, film “Entourage” is aiming for the metroplex, not the arthouse. Consequently, it may likely seem silly and banal.

Newbies may wonder about the surfeit of cameos, overdone for sure – Jessica Alba, Warren Buffet, Liam Neeson, Pharrell, Russell Wilson and the aforementioned MW among them. The surfeit of party scenes. And the surfeit of zingers – many of a sexual nature – that are uncharacteristically flaccid.

Turtle (a still-slim Jerry Ferrara) fights for love in a scene from "Entourage."

Not surprisingly, film “Entourage” is not of the same caliber as series “Entourage” for some of the aforesaid reasons. Not as clever. As nuanced. It has too many peccadilloes to even be considered good.

However, fans will be more magnanimous. After all, they are invested in these characters. Fans parted with the series four years ago with a heavy heart. Eight (seasons) was not enough. The characters became family, friends, inspiration.

It's a treat to witness the exploits of the boys again, warts and all. Here's to hoping for another film "Entourage" in two year's time.

"Entourage" is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use; visit to learn more about the film.

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