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Krippendorf's Tribe
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Krippendorf's Tribe More at IMDbPro »

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Richard Dreyfuss has done it again!

Author: Predrag ( from Serbia
4 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Great performances by Dreyfuss and Elfman make this movie work wonderfully and make you laugh so hard you think your going to cry. This film is put together in a way it's sure to make you laugh. Professor James Krippendorf (Richard Dreyfess) is a Professor of anthropology and also a widower. Down in depression he ends up using the universities grant money for his own personal use. Faced with either confessing and going to jail, or going on with his fairy tale tribe. He chooses to go on with his made up tribe the Shelmikedmu. Using his own 3 kids and back yard for filming. He comes up with the most unique tribe ever seen before. Also with the help of his over anxious colleague Veronica Macelli (Jenna Elfman) who wont leave him alone. He ends up going deeper and deeper into his fairytale tribe, and trying to keep up with his lie. They end up taking the tribe national.

Dreyfus handles the comedy with aplomb as he has done before, with the help of a supportive cast. It was nice to see Phil Leeds one last time in a couple of very brief appearances in a crowd scene. He was one of those talented character actors who always added that bit of spice to a production. This movie is very well put together, and just so ridiculous you got to laugh. In the end you will wish you were Shelmikedmu too. It's definitely worth seeing.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.

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Spoofing Academia and the Tasaday hoax

Author: Wuchak from Ohio/PA border
16 April 2015

"Krippendorf's Tribe" (1998) stars Richard Dreyfuss as the titular grieving anthropologist who is compelled to hoax an isolated tribe still living in the Stone Age. Jenna Elfman plays his assistant, Natasha Lyonne his daughter, Stephen Root his boss and Lily Tomlin his rival.

As my title blurb says, this movie spoofs Academia and the Tasaday hoax. If you're not familiar with the latter, a supposedly isolated tribe still living in the Stone Age was "discovered" on the Philippine island of Mindanao and prominently featured in a 1972 issue of National Geographic. In 1986 it was discovered that the Tasaday were simply members of known local tribes who put on the appearance of living a Stone Age lifestyle under pressure from Manuel Elizalde.

The movie's silly and fun, but not laugh-out-loud funny, although there are a handful of mild laughs. That said, humor's a personal thing, which explains why some people find this movie funny. I don't, but it's likable and quietly amusing. If you're a fan of Dreyfuss and Elfman it's a must.

The film runs 94 minutes and was shot in the Los Angeles area and Ka'a'awa, O'ahu, Hawaii.


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Amusing hoax ........

Author: merklekranz from United States
2 February 2014

I like Richard Dreyfuss, and he does not disappoint in "Krippendorf's Tribe". We get practically the same character he played in "What About Bob", only this time he is an anthropology professor instead of a psychiatrist. Both films display Dreyfuss's angst as regards the family unit. Both are comedies, although "What About Bob" is a far superior film. The problem with "Krippendprf's Tribe" is that it is essentially a one joke movie hung on an amusing, though not very believable hoax. The film gradually runs out of steam, and some judicious editing might have helped. Nevertheless for fans of Richard Dreyfuss, this is familiar and entertaining ground. - MERK

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

pass this film right on by

Author: Dr. Michael Hollywood from United States
3 September 2006

Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman made a very stupid mistake when they decided to add their names to "Krippendorf's Tribe," a disastrous film.

"Krippendorf's Tribe" is the type of film that falls under the category of mistake. The script, costumes and performances of the leads, Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman were all factors that drew me to this conclusion. Even the supposed romance between Dreyfuss and Elfman was a mistake as they had no chemistry.

I gave this film my full attention for 90 minutes but it didn't live up to what I was expecting. One thing I noticed lacking from this film was comedy, true comedy. The jokes were poor, futile attempts at laughs. Furthermore, I don't remember laughing at all and if I did it was at them instead of with them.

It was a sad sight to watch respectable actors such as Dreyfuss and walk around in awful outfits and star in this awful film. I'm really sorry I wasted my time on this film. The razzies were correct in making this the dullest comedy of 1998. They should have given worst actor awards to Dreyfuss and Elfman as well.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: TalkToMe from Israel
30 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Sue me but I really enjoyed Krippendorf's Tribe. Expect to come away smiling and with a good feeling. For me that makes this movie memorable. I would see it again without hesitation.

I looked up the file on the movie while watching it and was disappointed to see that it had just a 4.7 rating. This low rating and the comment on the opening page that the movie should be classed as a "miss" almost made me change the channel. I'm glad I didn't. I don't remember when I laughed so hard.

I think that you need to be in the mood for this sort of movie. I suggest that you watch it with kids. I did and their enthusiasm was contagious.

Both Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman are "frenetic" actors and perfectly suited for their parts. The other actors were equally good.

The director, Todd Holland, deserves special kudos for small touches. For example, there is a dinner at the end of the movie for octogenarians and he has most of them sitting around in catatonic states and being fed by caregivers. It's a small thing but the kind of thing that, IMHO, separates an average director from a good one.

Expect to come away smiling and with a good feeling. For me that makes this movie memorable. I would see it again without hesitation.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: b_chalmer from Boston
4 July 2004

I remember when this movie came out, it didn't do very well in the theaters, mostly because it is a comedy that points out peoples stupidity for what it truly is. Krippendorf's Tribe is about an anthropologist who broke down after his wife died. He comes back into the lecture circuit, somewhat forced back because the bills are mounting up and he receives a grant to continue his research on the native tribes of New Guinea. There's only one problem, since his breakdown, he hasn't been to New Guinea to study any tribes. So, in order to stay afloat, what does he do? He invents one.

This, of course, leads to the various ins and outs of how to keep the public, and those who gave him the grant, fooled. Those are the common plot points, used in almost any comedy. You need a given situation, then you need the foils. What makes a good comedy from a bad one is the timing and the delivery.

Richard Dreyfuss is wonderful in his delivery and there are some funny scenes. There is nothing in the movie that really makes you laugh out loud, but there are some wonderful anticipatory parts which make you love when the ax does fall.

The movie is different in terms of its lack of slapstick, but I don't think that's the main point. What it seems to pointing out is not that this one family is kept together by a lie, but that people will believe anything as long as it's presented with the right credentials. That, and those who give you the money are trying to keep their heads as much as the next.

If you have nothing else to do with your time then I suggest you see this movie, otherwise it can wait until a rainy day, or perhaps when you need a good giggle after you've had your wisdom teeth out.

If you're looking for a movie to watch Richard Dreyfuss, try Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, it was better written.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Terrible film

Author: sauron256 from Australia
30 June 2004

I had the misfortune of seeing this film on TV, and the biggest mistake was watching it all the way through. I have great respect for Dreyfuss as an actor (Mr Holland's Opus was a classic film, as was Close Encounters and Jaws), but this film hits rock bottom. There was no laughter coming from any member of our household all the way through the film. How this could be called a family comedy is beyond me, because it's not for family (unless you think that teaching your kids that it's OK to get a woman drunk to sleep with her is a good thing), and it's not a comedy, because a comedy is meant to be funny.

I rank this alongside Luggage of the Gods as the most unfunny comedy I've ever seen.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Morally bankrupt antiheroes.

Author: glires from Houston, Texas, USA
20 July 2003

The movie was fun, but I couldn't help but be disappointed every time something good happened to the main characters. Although the movie is quite clear at telling the viewer who the "good guys" are, the only redeeming qualities that they possess are that you feel really, really sorry for the children, and, well, they dress like stereotypical "good guys." The moral of the film seems to be that the best way to solve all of life's problems is through lying, embezzling, stealing, backstabbing close colleagues, cover-ups, and gross falsification of research.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing and disturbing (some minor spoilers included)

Author: decarch from morristown, nj
11 January 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't see how anyone can call this a family film. There are numerous phallic references, including a creation of a "circumcision" scene done with two boys and an axe. Every character in the film is manipulative and dishonest in every way. All of the professors try to take credit for work they did not do, including the work of Krippendorf (which even HE did not do.) I wanted to pity him for being a widower but that issue barely came up and does not excuse his stealing thousands of dollars of grant money for his own personal use. (This is criminal!) But to get away with it, he invents a fictitious tribe he claims to have researched with all kinds of "unusual" tribal practices, falsifying anthropological research and tainting information about primitive peoples (in the film). This leads to more and bigger opportunities to lie about this fictitious tribe for financial gain. His out of control children live in squalor and he uses them to pull off his hoax, teaching them how to lie, steal and cheat. (The whole family even steals farm animals for this stunt.) Great family values. And we're supposed to laugh when he is disrespectful to his deceased wife's parents when they want to put the kids (their own grandchildren) into a more disciplined school environment? Then there's the annoying Jenny Elfman who pushes her way into a life and takes credit for his "research". He wants nothing to do with her until she introduces him to a TV executive who wants to pay him to air films of his research. Then he uses her by secretly filming the two of them having sex dressed as tribe members and selling the video! Then he is offered more grant money to continue his research and she wants half of it (before she even knows about the sex video)--then they get caught in the hoax. But they get away with their theft, fraud and other criminal behavior because the one responsible person in the whole film, the one who earlier voiced a conscience about the misdeeds (his daughter) pulls off the biggest hoax of all to protect him and they get away with this nonsense and live happily ever after, apparently on the fraudulently obtained grant money wrested from the hand of a benevolent elderly lady benefactor. Shameful. And we're supposed to pity him for a being a single (though incompetent) f

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

No moral here!

Author: Corolla-2 from Michigan, USA
15 June 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The problem with this movie was not only flat, boring comedy (it really seemed to drag on for a 90-minute flick) but the way the main characters got away with lying! Anthropologist James Krippendorf makes up this big lie about a unique New Guinea tribe, whose name is constructed from his 3 kids' names. He keeps piling lies on top of lies and even drags Jenna Elfman down. I would have liked to see him, his family and Elfman get theirs for so much lying; instead an 11th-hour trick by Krippendorf's daughter convinces adversary Ruth Allen (Lily Tomlin) there really is a Shelmickedmu Tribe. At least in "The Blues Brothers" (1980) they got thrown into prison for all that destruction in the Chicagoland area. Centering a whole movie around lying and deception and letting them get away with it stinks. This movie sent out a poor moral message and was a crappy comedy besides.

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