Flashback Friday 2015: Entourage and Spy

Coming June 5- ENTOURAGE and SPY

So…this sure will be a Friday with movies being released in theatres won’t it?

 That cat shirt is, in fairness, the new hotness. (photo from dailymotion.com)

That cat shirt is, in fairness, the new hotness. (photo from dailymotion.com)

Perhaps I am being a bit unfair. SPY does have some decent early buzz on it and it is reteaming Melissa McCarthy with Paul Feig, the director under which she “broke out” in BRIDESMAIDS (more on that later). On the other hand, what made McCarthy such a pleasant surprise in BRIDES has been somewhat diluted by repeated applications, whether it be in disappointing movies like IDENTITY THEFT or through repeated appearances on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. It’s not to say her skill has diminished, just that her shots are becoming increasingly easy to call. “Movie stars” often suffer from this but it’s easier to forgive in their case because their one or two speeds tend not to be wildly over the top (exception: NICHOLAS CAGE!). Comedians, however, suffer far worse in these situations because antic and anarchic is far more likely to catch your eye and thus makes repetition of motifs, voices, or mannerisms that much easier to catch and, often, resent. Still, I like McCarthy and I like a lot of what she does, even if it is in service of something overall disappointing. I hope SPY ends up more like BRIDESMAIDS or her brief appearance in THIS IS 40 (possibly the best part of that film) and less like, say, TAMMY.

 Did they have a signature drink? Like the cosmo? Then, no,  they were not SEX AND THE CITY but for guys. (photo from forevertwentysomethings.com)

Did they have a signature drink? Like the cosmo? Then, no,  they were not SEX AND THE CITY but for guys. (photo from forevertwentysomethings.com)

ENTOURAGE, on the other hand, continues its damnedest to live up to that inaccurate but nonetheless unshakeable label of the “boys’ SEX IN THE CITY” by following that show’s trajectory to the big screen a few years after the bloom was of their “not TV, it’s HBO” rose. I confess I was an early ENTOURAGE adopter, but at some point, I just lost interest entirely. I’d like to say it was about the show’s increasingly retrograde opinions of women, gay people, and others, but, honestly, I think I just got bored at some point. The show is almost entirely stakeless—Vinnie once got addicted to drugs for, like, half an episode, went clean, then never relapsed, seemingly without therapy or addressing his patterns of behavior, lifestyle, friends and associates, or surroundings at all. I think I’d need to see incredible reviews of this one to overcome my disinterest.

Kissing a Fool (as prep for ENTOURAGE)

 Everyone in this photo is so miserable. (photo from moviepictures.org)

Everyone in this photo is so miserable. (photo from moviepictures.org)

The above is particularly true after revisiting this sour piece of mid-90’s filmmaking.

I can vaguely remembering watching this on VHS, possibly at a girlfriend’s house. I did not remember if I liked it or not and consistently confused it with THREE TO TANG—same plot but with David Schwimmer’s fellow “Friend” Matthew Perry in the Jason Lee role—or FOOLS RUSH IN—Matthew Perry again, this time with a completely different plot, leaving the title as the obvious culprit.

I did know that most of the “Friends” cast members’ movies during their time on the series are poorly regarded. I did not see many of them but the ones I did and could recall tended to confirm this perspective (FOOLS RUSH IN, for instance, is hot garbage). Nonetheless, I thought perhaps time away from that hyped era might give me a bit more leniency with this movie. I mean, I think PALLBEARER ain’t all bad, so…

But I was wrong. This is not a good movie. It is not a good movie I felt good watching. This is ugly and mean and not in a delightfully dark kind of way.

I will say this though, ENTOURAGE creator and ENTOURAGE movie director Doug Ellin—who also directed this one, hence the connection—has gotten much better. Whatever your opinions of ENTOURAGE as a work, it is generally accepted that it is a pretty show. The camera uses the backdrop of Hollywood (and other exotic locales) to great effect and while every shot positively drips with male gaze, there is no denying that gaze settles on very beautiful people.

So, KISSING A FOOL is no good, no good at all, but at least Ellin can take comfort in his own improvement.

Bridesmaids (as prep for SPY)

 Samuel L. Jackson wishes he could rock his Kangol this fierce. (photo from nytimes.com)

Samuel L. Jackson wishes he could rock his Kangol this fierce. (photo from nytimes.com)

Seeing a zeitgeist-y comedy months after it’s been released and the hype has built to a roar is never a good thing. Hence, when I first took in BRIDESMAIDS, I came away from it thinking it was an ok comedy. Ok, but hardly worth the huzzahs.

Revisiting it in 2015, I feel a bit more charitable to the movie.

The scatological humor, which rarely thrills me in male driven comedies either, still feels tacked on and makes me feel more “I can’t believe this is going on this long” than “I can’t believe how transgressive and funny this is.” Women have bodily functions just like men…I am not so tickled by this “revelation.”

Kristen Wiig’s characters romance feels similarly stapled to the proceedings, even if I do love Chris O’Dowd

On the other hand, the sweetness of the friendships and highs and lows of women-to-women interactions struck me as far better this time. As a man, I can’t say for sure, but they felt real to me, making the humor that comes out of them all the more delightful. Wiig and then (and perhaps still) underrated comedic chops of Rose Byrne really save the day and Melissa McCarthy’s outsized performance is used just enough to be an excellent bit of seasoning that does not overpower the meal.

It’s nice to return to a film and have it be better than you remember.