The star of Cabin Boy and author of The Shroud of the Thwacker (2005) takes on Everest.
Still recovering from the breakup of his marriage to designer Vera Wang and obsessed with his eccentric, mountain-climbing great uncle, a sad-sack protagonist with the same name as his creator decides to climb Mount Everest. Such an expedition doesn’t come cheap, though, and the would-be explorer must convince a few celebrities of the wealthier sort to accompany him on his quest. His first recruit is an octogenarian actress named Lauren who is given to reminiscences about Humphrey Bogart. She’s a smart dame and a tough cookie, and it’s her idea to lure other celebrities with the promise of promoting their pet causes. So, a crooner named Tony joins the team so that he can increase public awareness about the scourge of homemade pasta. A sweetly idiotic ingénue named Kirsten agrees to climb as a protest against animal testing. An actor named Martin—who once played the president on TV and now cannot separate fiction from reality—convinces Chris to let him come along, and the whole thing is being filmed by a corpulent, muckraking filmmaker named Michael. Elliott seems to have two goals: One is to lampoon the memoir-as-extreme-sport genre, exemplified by the work of Jon Krakauer; the other is to spoof celebrity culture. He succeeds with neither. Parody gets stale pretty quickly, and Krakauer’s Into Thin Air is already a decade old. Jokes about an actress who did her defining work in the 1940s aren’t exactly timely, either. His take on Hollywood’s excesses and absurdities is no more knowing than that of the average Us Weekly subscriber, and his satire is considerably less entertaining than the celebrity self-sabotage delivered by TMZ.com.
Generic gags, creaky satire. Anyone who’s a fan of vintage David Letterman knows that Elliott is a comedy writer capable of strange delights, but none of his weird gifts are on display here.