I am always amazed at the discrepancy of opinions between the critics who often screen movies for free and audiences who have to shell out hard earned money. Most critics prefer stories that depict real life dramas. Most audiences love stories that help them forget about their real life dramas. Most critics want deep meaning. Most audiences want lightheartedness. Most critics look for weaknesses in stories that they can exploit. Most audiences look for strengths in stories that they can cherish.
That discrepancy is quite evident in reactions to the movie Entourage. Critics gave it a Rotten Tomatoes score of 31 percent. Ouch! Yet audiences gave it an "A-" CinemaScore. Hooray!
My heart is with audiences that pay money.
One critic said that, "Entourage retains many elements of the HBO series, but feels less like a film than a particularly shallow, cameo-studded extended episode of the show." Another said that, "By the time it reached the end of its HBO run in 2011, Entourage had grown staler than last night's Axe body spray. The passing of a few more years has not improved the aroma."
These critics' opinions reveal that they are out of touch with what audiences crave.
Audiences love insights into Hollywood and Entourage delivers. Many critics are so jaded by their exposure to Hollywood that they can no longer see the glitter, nor are they impressed by it if they can. Audiences love peeking behind the scenes. They love to see the inner workings of a business that is as mystifying as it is enticing. Movie stars. Writers. Producers. Agents. Studio heads. It's a thrill to see them living large, loving hard, fighting hard, and sometimes falling hard. It's an escape from our own more insular lives.
Audiences love celebrity and Entourage delivers more than any film, ever. Some 40 or so stars are not only sprayed throughout the film, but their cameos have significance related to their lives. Warren Buffett delivers a line about his investment in the studio. A frustrated Kelsey Grammer dashes out of his therapist's office and utters that he's fu&ked and Bob Saget is depicted in a way that reveals his more lewd self. Critics seemed to have missed this, being more concerned with celebrity count than their roles. This is the age of the Kardashian, where celebrity lives draw interest. It's the age of Caitlyn Jenner, where exhibitionist under the guise of living your true self will make you millions. Is this worthy? It is to millions of people who eat it up.
Audiences love to fantasize and Entourage delivers. Most people want celebrity. Bigger fame. Bigger paychecks. Bigger homes. Faster cars. Better looking girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses. Is this shallow? Yes. Does that matter when it comes to paying for a movie? No. Importantly, audiences love rags to riches stories, and Entourage is about a group of regular underdogs who make it big in Hollywood. Audiences can identify with the fantasy.
Audiences love stories in which friendship, family and loyalty are central and Entourage delivers. At its roots, the film is about enduring affection. It's about love and loyalty that triumphs over the headaches and heartbreaks that is a part of the Hollywood grinder.
Just because audiences love Hollywood, celebrity and all their trappings does not mean they don't also appreciate stories with deeper meaning. They do. In this regard, moviegoers have a much broader range than do critics. They can love candy in one bite and then spinach in the next. Many critics only have an appetite for spinach.
I, too, have provided negative critics of films and television shows. Who can forget the dreadful ending to How I Met Your Mother. But my critiques are from the point of view of the audience that lives in the streets of the metropolis, not from the perch of the ivory tower far above.
I suspect that creators of art are more likely to appreciate Entourage than those who are critics of art. There's no better scenes in Entourage than those that depict how the talented artists must beg for money from untalented people with deep pockets. Many artists spend their lives trying to prove themselves to those without talent. God help them all. So congrats to writer/director/producer Doug Ellin, to producers Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg, and to the original cast of Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven. You created a fun ride.
Most critics are wrong about Entourage. They have forgotten that, deep down, most of us want and deserve a caring, empathetic, supportive entourage of our own. I hope that this innate fantasy will help the film overcome the poor reviews from those who are clever with words but talentless otherwise.
Go see Entourage.
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