As every right-thinking person in America remembers, the final episode of Entourage aired on HBO on September 11, 2011. (Never forget.) You therefore might expect the movie, which comes out this week, to take place three or four years after that finale, finding our quintet of Hollywood bros slightly older, wiser, and (except Turtle) paunchier. Not so! As the first scene makes clear, Entourage the movie picks up a very short while after the events of that finale. But it's also not a 2011 period piece — no one's wearing peplum or listening to "Rolling in the Deep." Instead, the movie exists within a bizarre timeline that basically makes no sense. As a wise man once said, my mind has been enabled — so let's try to make sense of it!
The first five minutes of the Entourage movie are essentially Doug Ellin hitting "reset" on every major plot development from the finale. Remember when Vince ran off to get married to Alice Eve? Yeah, that's not a thing anymore; they got bored with each other after a couple of days and had it annulled. Remember how Ari was going to either retire or run Time Warner? Now he's a studio head, which is neither of those things. And remember how Eric and Sloan (ugh) patched up their differences in light of Sloan's pregnancy? Well, now they're on the outs. That's a lot of change, but we're apparently still in late 2011: Vince is seeing the guys for the first time since his breakup, Ari's still in Italy, and, oh, yeah, we've got our inciting incident — Vince wants to direct!
Cut to "eight months later," which must therefore be sometime in summer 2012. Sloan is still pregnant, which checks out medically, and Vince is hard at work on his directorial debut, Hyde. So far, so good, right? Except Vince needs more money to finish the film, so he invites an investor played by Haley Joel Osment along to a star-studded screening party, which is where the film's timeline goes off the rails. First, Osment fawns all over Emily Ratajkowski, mentioning her Sports Illustrated shoot — but she didn't pose for the "Swimsuit Issue" until 2014. (In fact, Ratajkowski is basically the Marty McFly of this movie's messed-up timeline; she became famous after appearing in the "Blurred Lines" video, which came out in spring 2013.) Then Rob Gronkowski shows up, with his arm in a brace. But Gronkowski didn't injure his arm until November 18, 2012. (He's re-injured it since then.) A few minutes later, Gronk is joined at the party by Russell Wilson, who jokes around with E about the time he won the Super Bowl. Except: Wilson didn't win his championship until February 2, 2014. In the summer of 2012, when this scene is ostensibly taking place, Wilson was a rookie battling Matt Flynn for a starting spot. He hadn't even played a regular-season game yet!
Also, at the end of the party, Pharrell shows up wearing his famous hat, which didn't debut in our world until January 26, 2014, the night of the Grammys.
Meanwhile, Turtle has a meet-cute with his love interest, real-life MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. He's following her, so she tries to kick his ass, until Turtle points out that they've met before, at one of Rousey's fights years before. Oh, yeah, she says, but didn't he use to be fat? Ha-ha-ha — except, as all true Entourage fans know, Turtle slimmed down in early 2011, before the show's final season, and Ronda Rousey didn't make her MMA debut until March 27, 2011, thus making it highly unlikely that she ever encountered Fat Turtle after one of her fights.
More weirdness follows. Ari is so impressed by the unfinished version of Hyde Vince shows him that he gifts his former client a convertible Cadillac Ciel, which happens to be the hottest concept car of ... 2011! (It has not yet made it to market.) Maybe this movie does take place in 2012 after all? Except that Ari's got a subplot involving Lloyd's wedding, despite the fact that California didn't start giving out same-sex marriage licenses until June 2013, when the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8. Okay, so it's possible the wedding wasn't official. But that still leaves us with the film's finale, which clearly takes place at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards. Johnny Drama is up for the Best Supporting Actor award, which means that Hyde must have come out sometime in 2014. A movie as buzz-worthy as Hyde somehow sat on the shelf for two years?
So, what's going on here? We can think of a few theories, none of them good.
The Entourage definition of months is different from our own.
In Game of Thrones, another HBO show, seasons can last for a decade. Why can't Entourage have months that last years? It's an intriguing theory — and it would explain why all the guys look so much older — except it would not explain Sloan's pregnancy, which everyone agrees is the same pregnancy from Entourage's final season. Is the human gestation period longer in the Entourage universe? You have to think that would have come up before.
What if the Entourage finale didn't take place in 2011?
All along, we've been assuming that when Entourage wrapped up in 2011, it was also 2011 in the show's timeline. But what if, through the show's gaps between seasons and intermittent flash-forwards, the final season of Entourage actually ended up taking place ... in the future? Heck, the two seasons of Rome took place over a period of 18 years; is it really so impossible that Entourage could have covered 10 years in eight seasons? (This theory, however, could be disproved by examining the last season of Entourage for 2011 specifics —at one point E says the Chilean mining accident, which happened in 2010, was "like a year ago," also when else would Johnny Galecki have been so prominent? — but come on, who wants to re-watch the last season of Entourage?)
Entourage exists in an alternate dimension that differs from our own in a few small but key places.
Maybe in the Entourage universe, Rob Gronkowski injures his arm, not his ankle, in that AFC championship game against the Ravens. And maybe Russell Wilson, instead of transferring to Wisconsin for his final year of NCAA eligibility, enters the draft, and leads his team to a Super Bowl victory in his rookie season. And maybe Ronda Rousey goes pro slightly earlier. And maybe Emily Ratajkowski hits it big in America while still in her teens. Of all the theories, this one makes the most sense, as Entourage already takes place in a fictional universe where Piers Morgan is a respected broadcast journalist.
Of course, Entourage isn't alone in having an unexpectedly wacky timeline. The Fast and Furious movies, in an effort to tie 2006's Tokyo Drift to the rest of the series, established one of that movie's characters, Sung Kang's Han, as a character in its main crew in Fast and Furious, and then put him in the two subsequent films in the series — a good plan, except for the fact that Han got blown up at the end of Tokyo Drift. Instead of pretending that didn't happen, the filmmakers retroactively decided that the three other films Han appeared in were all Tokyo Drift prequels — which means, then, that Tokyo Drift takes place sometime around 2014, nearly a full decade after it was originally set! (You could maybe move those three movies up in the timeline and say they all take place around 2005 ... except that in 2015's Furious 7, Vin Diesel visits Tokyo to discuss Han's recent death, which leads to the amusing spectacle of obvious 32-year-old Lucas Black playing a character who's still in high school.)
As Vulture's Abraham Riesman points out, though, this timeline foolery just brings movies ever closer to the world of comics, where two facts of life — each comic book takes place in the year it was published, and superheroes can't age — has necessitated the invention of something called Marvel Time, a sliding timeline that telescopes events in the past toward the present. And even that messy compromise is complicated by the backstories of characters like Captain America and Magneto, which are tied to a specific era in history. But as Entourage shows us, it's not just superhero movies that have this problem — basically every type of shared cinematic universe is going to have timeline problems, and we're just going to have to hug it out and deal with it. Oh yeeeah!