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Failed Critics Podcast: Sharknadon’t

After a week-long hiatus, Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are back with a new episode and a slightly less conventional format than usual. With the premiere of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming airing on the SyFy Channel at the same time as the pair sat down to record, we cover the usual movie chat whilst dipping in and out of the Asylum’s unfathomably popular franchise.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Secret Sandra Xmas Special


We left some mince pies and a nip of sherry out in a vain attempt to attract someone jolly onto the Christmas special podcast this year but instead we ended up with Steve Norman, Owen Hughes, Brian Plank and Tony Black.

Festive frivolities ensue on our very merry podcast with a Christmas-themed quiz to kick things off before a plug for our Failed Critics Awards 2016 (which you can vote for here before 27 December) and a glimpse at what we might be picking for each category.

You can thank Tony’s autocorrect for the invention of our Secret Sandra section of the show. Anonymously exchanging movies amongst each other in a ‘secret santa’ format, we somehow only exchanged one lump of coal. Steve ended up watching quirky black comedy I Love You, Philip Morris, whilst Brian unwrapped The Internet’s Own Boy (a documentary about Aaron Swartz) and Tony mulled over topical horror-comedy Krampus. Meanwhile, Owen sulked in the corner at being made to watch Kevin James’s Netflix Original, True Memoirs of an International Assassin.

We stuffed the Failed Critics Podcast Christmas turkey with a few new releases just for good measure (and to hide the taste of our giblets). There’s a few choice words for Office Christmas Party (look out for Brooker’s written review tomorrow – it’s a doozy) and a word of warning for those hoping to catch Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation. We even make room for a wrap-up of Season One of Westworld.

Join us again in a couple of days for our Rogue One: A Star Wars Story special!



Failed Critics Podcast: Trilogy Trashing Triple Bill


The Earth still spins, the sun still shines and Hollywood still makes trilogies that nobody in their right mind wants, with Ron Howard’s third Dan Brown adaptation, Inferno, hitting cinemas last weekend.

Rather than expend any amount of energy reviewing the Tom Hanks led mystery thriller, the Failed Critics instead run through a triple bill of film franchises that should have ended before getting to the trilogy stage. Boy, were there plenty to choose from!

With regular host Steve Norman off celebrating his birthday, we drafted in Matt Lambourne to swivel on the comfy high-backed armchair and guide Owen Hughes, Brian Plank and Tony Black through another podcast. There’s no quiz this week, but a discussion about the new Star Wars: Rogue One trailer arose, as did a short summary of this year’s London Film Festival.

In What We’ve Been Watching, the team cover Netflix series Luke Cage and half of their newest feature-length comedy, Mascots. There’s even time for a chat about HBO’s latest smash hit, Westworld, up to episode three (spoiler free!)

Join us again next week as we’re back with a Halloween triple bill, resurrecting the dead… Spooky!



Entourage: The Movie

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

entourage 1“I don’t wanna go back to Jersey bro! I like the weather out here too much.”

Ahh, bro-comedy; that form of with lower than sarcasm that seems to divide people completely down the middle. You either love or hate shows like Entourage, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that’s just said “meh, I don’t mind it” and have no real feelings on it either way.  Me? I love it. For me, Entourage did exactly what it said on the tin and offered a silly comedy show that was, for all intents and purposes, the guys version of HBO’s other stupid comedy show, Sex and the City.  And in a world where that abhorrent garbage gets a film adaptation, and a bloody awful sequel by all accounts, it seems only inevitable that Entourage will follow suit.

Following on directly from the last scene of the show’s eighth and final season, Entourage : The Movie throws us straight in where the TV show left off.  We meet Vince (Adrian Grenier), a pretty-boy movie star, right after his marriage, that lasted nine days, has ended.  Quickly joined by his friends on a massive yacht in Ibiza (an island who’s name no one seems to be able to pronounce) partying, as he always is and celebrating the end of his marriage by filling this massive boat up with girls. As we all would, I suppose?  Jumping straight back into work with freshly un-retired super agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) who is now running a studio and has a job for Vince.  Telling Ari that his next starring role needs to also be his directorial debut, the boys set off on their next big adventure, Vincent Chase’s “Hyde”, a Jekyll & Hyde retelling that, from what we see, looks like a sci-fi blend of The Matrix and Daybreakers. I’d certainly hand over money to watch it if it was real.

Jump forward eight months and this is where the bulk of our film happens.  Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly)’ Vincent’s closet friend and manager is waiting for his long-time not quite a girlfriend Sloane to give birth to their first child; Turtle, Vinny’s former driver and now tequila mogul and multi-millionaire is living the high life. Independently rich and still hanging with his friends because he can; and Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon) is still hanging his hopes on every job being the big one he needs to break into the big time.  Johnny’s doing ok though, he’s got a big part in Vince’s new film and, as we always do, we all think this will be the one.

But here’s the rub.  Vincent’s super sized blockbuster movie is having a few accountancy issues. It’s $15 million over the agreed upon budget and needs just a little more.  Photography is done, it’s in its final editing phase and Vinny needs a handout from their wealthy financiers to get it finished.  So now it’s Ari’s job, as it always was, to save his star’s arse and get the film that could ruin everyone attached to it if it flops, finished and in the can.  Standing in his way, are the money men, wealthy investor Billy Bob Thornton and his son, played by Haley Joel Osmont.

These are the guys that have invested in the studio and its movies and they are keeping those purse strings tied until they’ve seen the first cut of the film and taking a note or two from his directorial inspiration, Billy Walsh, Vincent isn’t letting anyone see it until it’s perfect.  With a promise of a screening, Thornton sends his son to Los Angeles to meet with the film’s director and star and work out a mutually agreeable fix for the company’s budgetary issues, Haley Joel Osmont, who spend his first scene wearing a pistol on his hip trying to convey a little bit of an edge.  But instead, he looks like an overgrown man-child who is out without his special helmet and running around with a toy gun and handcuff set on, is the man in control of whether or not the film gets the extra capital it needs and unfortunately, after a screening, has a few notes that he wants actioned before he’ll write a new cheque. Not least of all, he wants Drama’s supporting character cut and possibly recast before any money changes hands.  And so begins the longest and most challenging part of Vincent’s career to date.

So here’s the thing with Entourage: The Movie, it has a very, very specific audience. Fans of the TV show.  Writer/director/show creator Doug Ellin does an amazing job of explaining eight years of the HBO show in an exposé episode with Piers Morgan just after the titles roll that details all the important bits you need to know. Essentially it’s my Beginner’s Guide, in video form, presented by a douchebag!  I have to say, I was impressed. I’ve read interviews with Ellin that state that you don’t need to be a fan or have ever seen an episode to watch the film and was curious as to how he could pull it off. Now I don’t necessarily agree that you can go in blank and enjoy the film as much as I did, but he did do a pretty damn good job in that respect.  But when all is said and done, it’s a film for those of us that loved the show. The same way Sex and the City was a pointless venture if you en’t a fan of the show, or at least knew a little bit about it, I would absolutely put Entourage into that category.

Now don’t get me wrong, the film is far from perfect and it has its fair share of issues and I would certainly argue that its “star” is one of them. Vincent Chase is about as likeable as an Ebola riddled monkey with the personality of a chewed tennis ball. Everything he does irks me. Whether it be the show or the film, his presence in this business that we all adore makes me want to punch him square in the face. Now I know he’s like that for a reason, I do. It’s clear his character is supposed to be a blank but pretty face to symbolise all those pretty boys that really do hump their way across Hollywood without any kind of comeuppance. No angry husbands, no random unwanted kids and no dick withering diseases and all of us wishing that we could be so lucky. But it doesn’t make his annoying traits any easier to swallow when he acts like the giant spoiled kid he is.

But for me, the film’s biggest problem lies in the fact that it’s a film. Not that it was made, I wanted it made. But that it is a feature length film. I think this film would have been much better served as Entourage – Season 9. It’s the perfect length for it and has essentially covered all the bases a season of the show covered.  This could have easily played out as a comeback season (think 24: Live Another Day) and maybe led into a bit of a return for the show.  I mean, season one was eight 25 minute episodes, minus titles and credits and you can do the whole season in less than three hours. And that brisk story run through is what we get with the film, but it really didn’t need the big screen.

A TV outing would have meant that I didn’t come out feeling like the celebrity appearances had been forced down my throat.  And I’m a fan, I know which of those guys were regulars. God knows how people that haven’t seen the show are going to take it. Although, a few of the cameos did make me grin. Famous for his party attitude, New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski’s turn was hilarious and the brilliance of him being at the same party as Super Bowl rival Russell Wilson was nothing short of amazing from the point of an NFL fan. But some series regulars like Scott Caan and Gary Cole are notable by their absence and the film could certainly have been improved if it focussed a little less on the constant barrage of cameos.  Moreover, this is the second bloody film I’ve seen this year with Ronda Rousey in it, trying to act. Please, stop casting her to act. Rousey is a world class fighter and I have nothing but respect for her, but as an actress, she’s got the same acting chops as a monkey with a jar of peanut butter. Sorry Ronda, this career ain’t for you.

Entourage has been dividing audiences for years. Famously battered a few times by Tina Fey and her 30 Rock crew for being by douchebags, about douchebags, for douchebags and unfortunately it’s a subject matter and style of show that just pisses people off. I know I keep coming back to it, but when Sex and the City did the exact same thing in New York, it was lauded as an empowering feminist show and everyone should be taking note. But Entourage and its movie bring out the complete opposite views. People refuse to see it is the dumb bro-comedy that it is and in certain cold and lonely corners of the internet, to be the creator, a star of, or even a fan of the show is to be called a woman hating misogynist with no self respect. It’s a show, and a film, about lads just being lads, there’s nothing wrong with that. (For balance, both me AND my wife are fans of Entourage, with us both binging the show a couple of times a year)

The bottom line? Don’t watch the film if you’re not a fan. Why would you? If you don’t know anything about the show, you can easily enjoy the film if you go in realising that it’s not to be taken seriously. It’s self satirising silliness to be lapped up and enjoyed for what it is. If, however, you are a fan of the show, you don’t need me to tell you to watch it. You know what you’re walking in to and if you loved the show like I did, you’ll enjoy the film.  There’s no debate to be had, it’s a film for the fans and in that respect, it delivers everything I wanted. For those that want to drag us across the coals for being fans of Entourage; please feel free to toss off, you rancid fuckbags!

Entourage: A Beginners Guide

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

In a few days, HBO’s latest TV show to get the Sex and the City treatment finally hits our screens. Having been in theatres in the States for a few days, it’s been met with a complete spectrum of reviews. Some love it, some hate it and some are just kind of shrugging their way through conversations about it. I’ll let you know how I feel when I finally get around to seeing it. So now seemed as good a time as any to get a quick binge of the show out of the way to get it fresh in my mind before seeing the movie that seems to have taken forever to get made.

So I thought I’d turn my encampment on the couch for eight seasons of Entourage into a public service. Whether you’ve never seen the show before or need a lightning fast refresher on the lives of Vincent Chase and his entourage, I present to you my Beginners guide to Entourage.

The Main Character, and his *ahem* Entourage

entourageVincent Chase (Adrian Grenier)
New York boy who’s uprooted himself to move to Los Angeles and make it big as a movie star. We meet Vince on the day of the premiere of his first starring role and it’s all gravy from here on in. We spend the next eight seasons living his life’s ups and downs with him. Is one bad moustache away from looking like a 70’s porn star.

Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon)
Vincent’s older brother. He’s been in Hollywood for years and has been struggling through since day one. Hitting the bigtime is all he wants and it always seems just an inch away from his fingertips. Can be best described as an angry lovechild of an 80’s action movie cop’s sidekick and Victor Meldrew.

Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly)
Vince’s best friend and manager. The last of the boys to head out to La La Land and pretty much the only one with his head screwed on right. He spends most of his time trying his hardest to steer his friend’s career in the right direction.

“Turtle” (Jerry Ferrara)
Another childhood friend and Vince’s Driver. The very definition of a cling-on, Turtle is a man-child spending his time leveraging his friendship with Vince to get girls into his bed. Usually unsuccessfully. A full-time stoner, you’d be forgiven for thinking Turtle learned all he know about life from Kevin Smith movies.

Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven)
Vince’s brutal, cutthroat agent. Moves heaven and earth for Vince’s career, not always with the results or appreciation he wants. Fills close to 100 episodes with abuse, at everyone. Racist, homophobic, completely inappropriate, but somehow is the best part of the show. Guaranteed to make you laugh, then make you feel like a complete tosser for laughing!

The Supporting Cast

entourageSloan McQuewick (Emmanuelle Chriqui)
Daughter of Ari’s old boss and long-time on-again-off-again girlfriend of Vince’s manager, Eric.

Melissa “Mrs Ari” Gold (Perrey Reeves)
Ari’s long-suffering wife. The one person in the world that Ari is afraid of. Known only as “Mrs Ari” until the last few episodes of the show.

Lloyd Lee (Rex Lee)
Ari’s work wife. His PA and later a fellow agent who’s a target for a fantastic amount of abuse from Ari. One of the few people that can stand toe-to-toe with the super-agent and not collapse under the pressure.

Shauna Roberts (Debi Mazar)
Vince’s foul-mouthed publicist. A fearsome woman that can get almost anything she wants by swearing at someone. If I get to choose one superpower, that would be it!

Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro)
Eccentric filmmaker. Works with Vince on several projects across the years. Him and Eric never see eye-to-eye but work well together. The man is a complete psycho!

Season 1
We meet Vince and the boys on the morning of the premiere of “Head On”, Vince’s first starring role. Average reviews and bad decisions plague the Entourage in this first season. Against advice, Vince turns down a sure thing for his next project and instead fights to get himself on an indie flick with Sundance winning director Billy Walsh. Finishing up with a flight home to New York to film “Queen’s Boulevard”.
Key Episode: “The Script and the Sherpa” (Ep. 5) – In the middle of a desperate weed shortage, the boys are handed the Queens Boulevard script and ponder their future with the only source of pot in the town, a local Sherpa (Played brilliantly by Val Kilmer)

Season 2
Fresh back from New York, Vince is offered a huge studio movie in the form of Aquaman. Costume worries, director woes, studio interference and crazy fallout from Queen’s Boulevard all create tension amongst the make-shift family as they steam-roll towards a deal for the biggest film of the young star’s life. Dodgy press and a relationship with Mandy Moore almost sinks the project before it begins.
Key Episode: Sundance Kids (Ep. 7) – The boys convince James Cameron to come to the Sundance screening of Queen’s Boulevard to try and prove Vince’s worth as an actor while Drama and Turtle have the most unfortunate of accidents in their first ever threesome.

Season 3aquaman
Aquaman is a monster hit. Vince has scored the highest grossing movie of all time and can have the pick of any project he wants. The boys decide to go after the film they’ve been chasing for two years, “Medellin”, the Pablo Escobar story. The project hits the skids quickly when Warner Brothers want to film Aquaman 2 and doesn’t want their star playing a murdering drug kingpin.
Vince drops from Aquaman, loses Medellin and finds himself unemployed and fires Ari. Taking matters into his own hands, the boys sell everything they own and buy the rights to the Columbian epic themselves. Hiring Billy Walsh to direct and with Eric producing, the Entourage heads south to film.
Key Episode: The Resurrection (Ep. 18) – The neurotic Johnny Drama is extra wired as the premiere of his new network show is about to air. Avoiding reviews and news about what may be his last chance, Drama goes off the rails until the ratings roll in.

Season 4
A disastrous on-location shoot with a crazy director leave “Medellin” in a fog of bad rumours and awful press. Not helped when Billy refuses to show anyone a single frame of the film. An equally disastrous post-production leaves the film in a state of disarray. Against all advice, Walsh submits the film to the Cannes film festival and gets in.
Now a Cannes recognised production team, the boys join forces again for another big project, Silo.
Everything quickly goes out the window when everyone’s fears are realised as “Medellin” tanks at the Cannes screening. Booed from the theatre, Vince and the boys are left ponder their future.
Key Episode: The Cannes Kids (Ep. 12) Heading to Cannes to screen “Medellin”, Ari and the boys try to get a bidding war going between studios to have the film bought before the premiere screening. All looks great until their chickens come home to roost and the movie turns out to be an atrocious waste of film.

Season 5
The brutal backlash from Cannes has left Vince hiding out in Mexico avoiding the flak. Eric signs a couple of writers to his management company and sells their script, “Smokejumpers”, to Warner Bros. Vince’s woes with the studio are morbidly fixed when the head of the studio that hates him so much dies after arguing with Ari. With Dana Gordon now at the helm, Warner’s brings Vince in and, just for a while, gets his career back on track.
Disagreements between star and director force the shutting down of the massive film. The lads head back to New York to get away from Hollywood for a bit. Eric pushes for Vince to meet some people in the Big Apple and ends up losing his position as Vinny’s manager when things fall apart. In a last ditch attempt, E gets Vincent a role in Martin Scorsese’s latest feature, “The Great Gatsby”.
Key Episode: Gotta Look Up To Get Down (Ep. 7) – After Alan Grey dies on the golf course, Ari is offered the role of Studio head. Conflicted, the agent wheels and deals his way through the halls of power and pulls a bait and switch. Getting Dana Gordon on the board instead and getting Vinny his desperately needed co-starring role.

entourageSeason 6
Vince is on a comeback and is preparing to fly to Italy to film an Enzo Ferrari biopic. The lives of the Entourage all start to change. Eric gets a job offer from a big management company; Johnny screws up not only his long-running series job but a second job on the same day; Turtle takes a punt at running a limo company; Lloyd quits Ari’s reign and takes up residence as an agent elsewhere; while Ari gets the opportunity to buy his former agency and become the biggest entertainment entity in Hollywood.
Key Episode: Scared Straight (Ep. 11) – Ari’s former employer, Terrence McQuewick quietly offers the hotshot super-agent the opportunity to buy TCA. Suspicious, Ari hires his Private Investigator to get the dirt on Terrence, his divorce and his company and use it to leverage his former boss into a low-ball deal for the company.

Season 7
The seventh season sees the show take a dark turn. After a car accident on set, Vince finds himself popping painkillers like skittles and going completely off the rails. Getting in to a relationship with real-life porn star Sasha Grey and finding progressively harder drugs to put into himself.
Ari chases a dream of bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles but his mouth is getting him into trouble and he loses out to his nemesis Amanda Daniels and her new ally, Ari’s former employee Lizzy Grant.
Insane director Billy Walsh makes a return to the boy’s lives with plans to re-invigorate Drama’s career, not necessarily to Johnny Drama’s approval. Turtle turns his hand at becoming a tequila distributor.
Key Episode: Lose Yourself (Ep. 10) – Vince’s season comes to a Charlie Sheen-esque end in the season finale. Far too many drugs, far too much booze and finally meeting a woman with a strong personality sends the movie star spiralling. Ending in a fight at an Eminem album party, a hospital visit, an arrest and a quick ship off to rehab. It was bound to happen sometime.

Season 8
Fresh out of Rehab, Vince tries to get his life back on track in this final season. Opting less for acting and instead dragging Billy back into the industry that melted him down and getting him to direct Drama in a TV movie the former leading man has written while hidden away from the world.
Ari and Dana finally burn off some of that sexual tension that’s built up across the last seven seasons before Ari regrets the last 10 episodes and tries to patch things up with Mrs. Ari. Love stays in the air for the entourage as Vince chases and proposes to a Vanity Fair writer who ripped him a new hole and Eric gets desperate in his attempts to get Sloane back in his life. The curtain drops on the season, and the show, with Vince off to get married, with the boys in tow!
Key Episode: Home Sweet Home (Ep. 1) – Vince comes home from rehab shiny and sober and looking for a fresh start. A screenplay and fresh humility in hand, Vinny puts grand plans into motion to get his life right. The boys plan a party to celebrate but try very hard to keep it drug and alcohol free. Turtle’s effort to hide his pot smoking ends in the house being burned down!

There you have it. That should give you all you need to know to go in and not think you’re missing anything when Entourage finally releases in the UK. Of course, it’s a very short show. If you get on to it now, you can probably still get it done before release day.