70 user 34 critic

Krippendorf's Tribe (1998)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 27 February 1998 (USA)
An anthropologist creates a fictitious lost New Guinea tribe using his family members to cover-up for his mis-use of grant moneys.


Todd Holland


Frank Parkin (book), Charlie Peters (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Dreyfuss ... Krippendorf
Jenna Elfman ... Veronica
Natasha Lyonne ... Shelly
Gregory Smith ... Mickey
Carl Michael Lindner Carl Michael Lindner ... Edmund
Lily Tomlin ... Ruth Allen
Stephen Root ... Gerald Adams, Dean
Doris Belack ... President Porter
Julio Oscar Mechoso ... Simon Alonso
Siobhan Fallon Hogan ... Lori (as Siobhan Fallon)
Amzie Strickland ... Gladys Schmades
Phil Leeds ... Dr. Harvey
Frances Bay ... Edith Proxmire
Susan Ruttan ... Mrs. O'Brian
Barbara Williams ... Jennifer


A university professor is paid to find the last undiscovered tribe of New Guinea. When he fails to find the tribe, he comes home, and rather than admitting that he's failed, he gives a lecture about the Shelmikedmu tribe (named after his children: Shelly, Mike, and Edmund) and then has his family dress like "Shelmikedmus," so that he can film them as proof of his discovery. Written by Daniel Aubrey White <b_white@bc.sympatico.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A father discovers that the most important 'long lost tribe' in his life may be very close to home. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual humor | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The name "Krippendorf" comes from Klaus Krippendorf, a renowned communications scholar best known for his work on the role of communication in social construction and design. The movie is based on a novel by Frank Parkin, who was himself a highly-regarded sociologist. See more »


When Dr Krippendorf is reading a fax at the beginning of the movie, the fax is dated April 1. It says that everyone is looking forward to his lecture the next Monday evening at 8Pm. Then, a few scenes later (on the same morning) Dr Krippendorf passes a handbills pinned to a bulletin board on his college campus stating that his lecture will be on April 13th from 6-7 pm. It's not possible for his lecture to go from the first week in April to the middle of April on the same morning. See more »


James Krippendorf: Another brandy, Professor Micelli?
Veronica Micelli: [drunk] I'd don't think I should.
[She tilts the bottle to fill her glass]
Veronica Micelli: No, just a little bit more.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Production Dogs .... Rosebud and Mickey See more »


References Planet of the Apes (1968) See more »


The Sound of Drums
Written by Angélique Kidjo and Jean Hebrail
Performed by Angélique Kidjo
Courtesy of Island Records Ltd.
By Arrangement with PolyGram Film & TV Music
See more »

User Reviews

If it is possible to recommend a film soley on the fact that it has a couple funny scenes, "Krippendorf's Tribe" is the one to recommend.
26 April 2003 | by MovieAddict2016See all my reviews

If it is possible to recommend a film soley on the fact that it has a couple funny scenes, "Krippendorf's Tribe" is the one to recommend. It is not sporadically funny. It is barely remotely funny. But it hits the laugh-mark a few times, and when it does, the results are hilarious.

The hilarious scene in "Krippendorf's Tribe" isn't a potentially smart one, nor a particularly witty one. But it is hilarious, and it had me rolling over on the floor in laughter. Sadly, there are only one or two scenes like this; the rest of the film tries to be funny but just isn't. Blame it on the script, blame it on the director, but don't blame it on Richard Dreyfuss, because you can tell he tried.

Dreyfuss plays Krippendorf, an anthropologist researching a legendary tribe deep in New Guinea. The film opens with shots of him filming with his camera. Unfortunately, he comes back to America with no evidence of any real tribe. But the real bad news is that his grant money has been completely used up. And things get even worse when Krippendorf finds out that a person can go to jail for what he has done (misappropriating grant money).

The day of his lecture on the tribe grows nearer, and when he finally gets up in front of everyone...he lies.

You see, earlier that day, in the spur of a moment, Krippendorf took his three children, dressed them up with Indian-tribe-type cloaks, and painted their faces. Presto. Instant tribe-members. He filmed them in the backyard, then took the video to his conference, where he proceeds to lie to everyone in the room, saying he has found the legendary tribe and has caught them on videotape. He plays the tape, and they all believe him. Whew.

But now they want to see more. They want to see the tribe. They want to hear about their lifestyles, their rituals; Access Hollywood, anyone?

Because of this plot setup results the funniest scene in the movie, in which Krippendorf sets up a fake circumcision bit with one of his children. I won't ruin that scene, because it is really the only thing worth seeing in the movie.

If you want a night-in watching a film, but don't feel like anything profound of memorable, "Krippendorf's Tribe" is the way to go, but don't expect anything too special.

2.5/5 stars -

John Ulmer

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

27 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Krippendorf's Tribe See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,316,377, 1 March 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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