Krippendorf's Tribe (1998) Poster

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It was funny!
brelsa8 October 2005
I laughed a lot at this film! I have always loved Richard Dreyfus, and Jenna Elfman plays her role in this movie with a Lucille Ball-like zaniness. Like Dreyfus she has the ability to play drama as well as comedy. I can't understand how some of the other reviews are so harsh. Maybe you need to know what to expect when you sit down to watch this movie. Don't try to take the story too seriously. For example, if you're an anthropologist in real life, don't try to compare it to reality. Separate yourself from your day job, and don't take the jokes personally. It is a wild and crazy movie that is no more about the real life field of anthropology than "Scrubs" is about medicine. Lighten up, have a beer, relax, and you will enjoy this movie. Slapstick comedy has its place in the entertainment field. Don't spoil it for the rest of us who still enjoy this genre.
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A family delight
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot disagree with the previous summary more. Whoever they are, they have no pulse! Just watched the movie last night with my family, and everyone had a great time - and laughed themselves silly. After a bit of a slow start, we find ourselves faced with one of the most inventive families ever - and one begins to lose track of how many lies have been told. The movie also lampoons fads in general. It is truly bizarre what can capture the public mindset, but when fashions are created upon a fictitious tribe, you know they've lost the plot. Jenna Elfman practically Xeroxed her Dharma character from Dharma & Greg, but she was more than welcome. Her charm and energy are infectious. Richard Dreyfuss was at his sarcastic best as well. And the Shelmickedmu? Hamamas! (If you want to know what that means watch the movie). It was a crying shame it was hard to find on DVD, but if you can pick up this gem, you won't regret it. And you'll find yourselves coming back for more.
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Classic slapstick at its nouveau best
Gil Munk24 October 1998
Dreyfuss has always been a master of high humor and KT is another enjoyable vehicle for it. Elfman is funny and vivacious, as well as lovely to look at. Both stars work well together. I laughed throughout; appreciating the movie for what it was meant to be: good comedy. I recommend this film for anyone wanting a lot of good laughs.
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Anthropology Students
sdickens15 May 2009
I think this is a great film for anthropology students. It demonstrates many of the hypocricies that exist within academia as well as the types of pressures that many professionals feel within the field. I also think it's a great introductory example for anthropology students regarding ethics, structures of cultures, and the nature of our own culture (how we justify normally taboo items).

I show it to my Introduction to Anthropology students every year. They laugh, they ask questions, and they appreciate the film. I recommend it. I've used it for years in Anthropology classes - I have students analyze the Shelmikedmud and come up with more cultural traits. I then follow by having them simulate the type of cultural creations that scifi writers do - creating their own alien cultures.
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Krippendorf's Tribe — A very intelligent family comedy with a flair for the exotic
Avid Climber3 December 2012
Krippendorf's Tribe has achieved something special, an incredible balance of fun and smarts accessible to all.

There's a bit of exaggeration that will hold the interest of those who want primal fun, but little enough as not to displease those who do not want to be submerged by unrealistic situations.

The intelligent humor of the dialogs and scenario will easily enthused those who need smarts to appreciate a comedy, but not so much as to rebuff those who do not want to work their brains to laugh.

The acting is without reproach, even if a few of the secondary characters are a bit caricatured. The photography, soundtrack, and editing are as perfect as they are invisible, yet remarkable. The story is without logical flaw.

A must see, easily enjoyable by anyone.
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Smooth Deception? Hardly. But An Enjoyable Endeavor All The Same.
Elswet13 May 2007
Richard Dreyfus. An anthropologist creates a fake New Guinea tribe to further his career.

This sounded like it would be painful to watch, and in some places, it is just that. but overall, this bears an endearing tone, and a genuine humor, which consistently colors the work, throughout.

Dreyfus's character, Krippendorf, is a frantic/manic anthropologist who tries to seem as though he is calm and collected, on the surface of the deception he has laid. Dreyfus is a phenomenal actor, who needs another Jaws/Close Encounters to revitalize his career. I wonder if Spielberg is listening? His performances come off as direct projections from the heart, no matter how low the budget they allow him, or what horrendous costars they saddle him with.

This work features a quirky story line with quirky subplots, and quirky characters, but none as enigmatic as Krippendorf himself.

This is a great way to spend a couple of hours, but as a Disney movie? Disney rewrites known history to suit its ends, and usually does so with great panache, but the return to ethnocentrism is potentially damaging to the field of anthropology. However, if you can suspend belief, which you must do to enjoy any Disney movie, then you may find the enjoyment from it that I did, but as usual, I'm in the minority.

It rates a 7.1/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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Spoofing Academia and the Tasaday hoax
Wuchak16 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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Paul8 April 2005
I was an anthropology major in college, and so was especially insulted by the field's infantile representation here. The idea that an anthropology professor could fool one person for one second with the ridiculous B.S. he makes up here is ludicrous. I believe this travesty of a movie has probably done irreparable harm to the field of anthropology. The overriding theme of anthropology is escaping ethnocentrism -- the belief that one's own culture is superior to another -- and by dressing up white kids in blackface and stereotypical costumes and having them run around chasing chickens, this movie is not helping. Now, all this could be forgiven if the movie was actually funny. Then it could be thought of as a comedic send-up of anthropologists, or whatever you wanna call it. But there are maybe two funny moments in the entire running time. Awful. Everything about this movie is disgusting -- From the bathroom humor to the cookie-cutter characters and formulaic script. Everyone involved should have turned down the money and stayed home -- no paycheck is worth being a part of this disgrace.
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Unbelievable, but funny
R.L. Hill6 August 1999
If this movie can be accepted as is (a comedy), it is funny. If totally unbelievable plot and situations are ignored it can still be a laugher. A few of the better instances were Lilly Tomlin (?) in the jungle, the television interview, and the banquet scene.
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Stephen Hitchings21 July 2000
An appalling piece of very unfunny smut, masquerading as a "family comedy".

How could Richard Dreyfuss have possibly descended this far? The acting is passable, but the script is truly dreadful. Embarrassingly bad.
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Top Ten worst movie I have ever seen
billu24 June 1999
Krippendorf's tribe is the worst flick I have ever seen. What was Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman thinking? I know, let me be in a movie where we appear in blackface as a African tribe. I don't know whether or not this was to be a kids move or for adults but I know it's for no one older than a fetus. Unbelivable, stupid, no plot whatsoever, Not one single laugh. No one. Those are kind of important in a comedy! And nothing more will stop you watching than Jenna Elfman and Richard Dreyfuss (He's old enough to be her father!)getting drunk and act like African tribes people in blackface. This movie sucks.
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The Worst Movie of All Time?...Perhaps!
BToothe5 August 1998
Richard Dreyfuss himself said in an interview before the release of this flick: "(begging)Please go see this movie!...If this movie doesn't do well, it'll be the end of my career." Yes, he actually said this. Very disappointing behavior from an actor so many people once enjoyed watching on screen. I for one am not surprised. Mr. Dreyfuss has been heading down into disgrace for many years now. I would not be immediately opposed to changing my opinion of Mr. Dreyfuss, but for this to happen, he must make some kind of comeback!! But I will watch with anticipation, albeit slight, for this comeback. By the way, did you see how pitiful his expression was when the camera panned by him in the most recent Oscars' past-award-winners-lineup?? The shame he must have been feeling for the horrid Krippendorf's Tribe was very clearly seen (I believe it was in theatrical release at the time of the Oscars).

Well, see this flick if you are 1) into masochism, or 2) into laughing at the downfall of a once great actor (although his ever having reached that level of greatness is highly debatable). Thank you good sirs and madams for your time. Any one who reads this, please feel welcome to email me: I am interested in forming an Anti-Krippendorf's Tribe Group.
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I'm neutral on this one...
Tito-818 February 1999
Well, it seems like perhaps my opinion of this film is somewhat rare compared to most. I didn't like it, I didn't hate was just an adequate time-filler. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but it just isn't too funny either, which can be a problem if you're making a comedy. There's nothing I can really praise or trash about this movie, so I'd say that if you have an extreme need to see a standard film that isn't boring or especially entertaining, then this should nicely satisfy your mediocre movie requirements.
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A waste of a good cast
TomC-54 November 1999
This could have been pretty funny, actually. Richard Dreyfuss, Natasha Lyonne, and Jenna Elfman are among the various talents assembled here to tell the story of Dr. Krippendorf, a university anthropology professor who creates a hoax by claiming to have "discovered" an unusual stone age tribe (the "shelmikelmu"), and who then must recruit his reluctant children to "portray" the tribe on film, enhancing his relationship with them in the process. Unfortunately, the jokes are few and far between. The problem here is that this movie doesn't know quite what it wants to be - a family oriented comedy or a comedy about a family geared more toward those who might have some notions about the nature of the hoax. The central joke, that those who are in on the hoax are having a hard time sustaining it, gets old quickly. Overall, a disappointment and a waste of a good cast. This might have worked much better had it been done as vehicle for the broader comedic talents of Jim Carrey, and done in a much more over the top manner; it could have been a fine send-up, in the manner of the slapstick comedies of the past, of our own culture's pretensions. Rating = 3/10
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Exploitation Vehicle Needs Oil Change and Lube
J. Wellington Peevis14 September 2004
A New York dwarf and his unfortunate family create a series of home movies performing as a New Guinea tribe, to augment the actual footage being used as a documentary for some grant or something.

Embarrassing exhibition what offends at each turn, and in every possible way imaginable. Beneath the veneer of an imbecilic plot, we discover a prodigious assortment of xenophobic, elitist, snobbish, supremacist humor that would make Sam Kennison wince. The film says to us "Hee hee look at the naked funny dark people" while the film's producers say, "No, no, that is what we are lampooning and exposing to the world, and condemning." Really boys, where's the humanitarian profit going? Richard Dreryfus's career, not unlike the obnoxiously hot summer, has surely run its course. He should go back to selling aluminum siding, and maybe Danny DeVito will do another documentary about him, Tin Men, Too: The Big Scam or something like that. That's the only entertainment the guys ever given me.

Aside: The film's lone merit lies in its unintentional revelation of how most broadcast news media is presented to us by the networks. Know what I'm saying?
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Terrible acting; blame it on worse script
BLBfootballs17 December 2006
This movie is achingly bad, and may well leave you thirsting for spiritual and cinematic salvation.

It's tempting to blame the low quality on the abysmal acting, but the abysmal acting is surely the product of the even worse script. Saturated with one-liner duds, 10-liner clunkers and painfully feigned scenes, this movie could be usefully employed in screen writing schools as an example of what not to force your actors to try and portray on screen. I'm disappointed that Richard Dreyfus agreed to take this movie, though a senior academic role could have suited his acting abilities well. Instead he pumps a heinous "performance" as a simply execrable poseur (we're supposed to sympathize with this guy...right?)--the quality of whose character corresponds well to the cringe-inducing wretchedness of the writing. Every other character in this movie is a paint-by-numbers cardboard figurine.

The audience suffers through a ride at least as irritating as the one endured by the (humorously-named?) professor's colleagues. Unfortunately the audience sees each rusty step approaching from miles away, preventing us from at least sharing in the colleagues' mild palliative of "surprise". As with many other bad movies this one was banking on a potentially humorous idea that, uh, doesn't quite work out. This movie is of the variation of bad that precludes even enjoying laughing at its radiant badness. Trust me, there will be no laughter. Every part of the movie, from the chokeworthy "jokes" to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones ska tracks suggests a kind of "ironic" self-referential "humor" that we're all (for some reason) supposed to be joining in on. Note to directors: next time please drop the "irony" and just aim for humor. Judging from this movie, that alone would be no small accomplishment! I almost can't believe this thing was released into theaters.

If you paid money to see this in a theater or rent it on video...well I'm just sorry. I would expect to see this as a staple of UHF stations' low-powered weekend afternoon matinées for some years to come. But hopefully not for too long!
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Unbearable Even For Insomniacs
mrliteral17 April 2006
It's 2:30 am, I'm lying in bed, and I can't sleep. Flipping through channels, I see a company logo indicating a movie is about to start. Whenever this happens, I am mentally and physically unable to change the channel until I know what the movie is. Seeing that it stars Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman, I know immediately it is Krippendorf's Tribe, which I remember being advertised but never saw. Not having anything else to do, I keep watching.

That was my first mistake.

The second thing I did wrong was to continue watching past the first commercial break, and on to the end credits. I was completely fascinated by how utterly terrible this movie is. I don't think I've ever seen a movie this awful with so many recognizable, decent actors taking part. Dreyfuss, Elfman, Lily Tomlin, David Ogden Stiers, Stephen Root, Natasha Lyonne, Siobhan Fallon, Elaine Stritch, Tom Poston, Susan Ruttan...all names I know, all actors I've seen before, never in anything this ridiculous and pointless.

During the opening credits, we see Professor Krippendorf and his family in New Guinea, hanging out with a local tribe. Next we see the Professor on his couch two years later watching his video of this trip. It is soon revealed his wife has died, and apparently he has been on this couch ever since, because Jenna Elfman shows up at his door to remind him he has a presentation that night about the lost tribe of New Guinea. She's supposed to be his former student, now fellow professor of anthropology, but she spends the entirety of the movie acting as agent between Krippendorf and a cable network. Sounds like the writer really paid a lot of attention to this character.

So he sits at McDonalds with his unruly children and tries to write a speech for his presentation, but comes up with nothing. When he arrives at the lecture hall, hundreds of people wait for his groundbreaking research to be revealed. Of course, he doesn't have any research. Whatever this lost tribe is, he never found it. So it's still lost. But I'm asking myself, what lost tribe? I just saw the video footage of him with a tribe in New Guinea! Is that not them? If not, who are they? Why are all these people at the lecture hall expecting something of him? If he didn't find anything, why don't they already know that? Where did they get their expectations? Why can't he just say "I didn't find that tribe, and my wife died, and I've been kind of depressed"? Why didn't he tell them that when he got home from New Guinea?

Other stupid questions: Why did he buy a big screen TV with the grant money? Why didn't he use the grant money to pay his mortgage and his bills instead of allowing his home to near foreclosure? Why is he so close to losing his house if he's still on staff at the university? If he has an office and friends there, why don't they have any idea what's been going on with him professionally for the last two years?

I realize a supposedly screwball comedy requires there to be a great deception during the first act, which must then be supported through the third act until all is revealed. That's fine, but as far as the story being told, there is no reason for them to expect anything, so there is no reason to lie. It's my understanding he'd have this presentation to tell them what he found. If he didn't find anything, why can't he say so? Why do they expect something amazing? Who told them something amazing had happened? And why is this business of a "lost tribe" being brought up as if I knew what they were talking about? Is that why he went to New Guinea? To find a lost tribe? Why has this exposition not been supplied to me? All I know is, the movie opened with him talking to members of a tribe, and now he's saying he lost the lost tribe. That makes no sense. None of the first part of the movie makes any sense.

That's only the beginning. The rest of movie is filled with jokes that are either totally inappropriate or just plain fall flat. Jokes about circumcision? Is this the funniest thing they could think of? One of his kids puts on some kind of show and tell about a native girl's first menstruation. Why? The only good thing about this scene is the one-line role of a young Mila Kunis as his classmate playing the native girl. He's even unwrapping a bloody cloth in the next scene. I just don't see the point, or the humor.

Nothing in this movie is funny. Everything plays like a bad old sitcom at best. Three minor positive notes: One - the aforementioned Mila Kunis, who has a spectacular voice, though as I said she only has one line, but it was nice to see her. Two - Jenna Elfman's butt. In her underwear. Not exactly a reason to see a movie, but if you are watching the movie, it's there in a pair of brief scenes; yes that pun was intended. Three - cinematographer Dean Cundey, always a pro with the pretty pictures. Why he chose to work on this movie, I'm sure I'll never know. I hope they paid him handsomely.
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Oh, the pain!
Carla Leahy2 September 2001
What a disappointment; and I waited, impatiently, for this movie to come out. Every Richard Dreyfuss film I've seen deserved (very close to) a '10'--and Jenna Elfman was great on TV as 'Dharma' (and more recently in some TV movies)--but this movie was just plain lousy. Fortunately, each of the main characters remained respected actors after this flop.

The plot in "Kripendorf's Tribe" was totally ridiculous, and I couldn't even manage to get one laugh out of the entire film. The idea of inventing a bogus tribe--and of filming his yard while dressed as a member of that tribe--yuk! I couldn't wait for this movie to end--and that is quite unusual for me.

In my opinion, this film is "flap-stick" in nature--totally not my kind of flick. It may be enjoyable to some children, but it was not for mine.

Save your money, don't even rent this waste of time!
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Loved this movie
iggypoo11 September 1998
I just rented this movie the other night and have to say... I enjoyed it very much! It was funny and a little adventurous. I like Richard Dreyfuss's work and always have. I'd see Krippendorf's Tribe again! spite of what others may think of this movie.
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DAVE6 January 2000
Sure some of the scenes in this movie are childish, but Richard Dreyfuss does his best, even if he does deserve better film offers. I saw the picture of this in Entertainment Weekly, and i started laughing when i saw the picture of Krippendorf's outfit and makeup. So i went to the dollar theater to see it and i was satisfied, I liked the situation of the film, cuz he worked his way out of a jam. It's not for everybody, but some will get a kick out of it.
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Richard Dreyfuss has done it again!
Predrag4 May 2016
Warning: 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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Krippendorf Crok!!!
kenburke06277 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is supposed to be a comedy, but it comes across as being funny for the wrong reasons. The professor (Richard Dreyfuss) is supposed to be the "good guy", but what is he doing? He (a) misappropriates college funds, (b) tells a bold faced lie to cover up his misdeeds, (c) involves his children in the scam, (d) gets a woman drunk to have sex with her (that's rape as in sexual assault, in case you have forgotten) and winds up televising it to the public, (d) tries to get more money from the college via the same scam, and (e), once the truth is out in the open, is saved via a lie from his daughter. Those that are after the truth are portrayed as arrogant, unfair, and snobbish who "deserve" to be fooled. The fact that the professor is in the wrong seems to get lost in the shuffle, and if there's a moral to the movie it's "don't get caught".

I do not recommend this movie, for the above reasons, for children.
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Good cast, substandard film
NxNWRocks6 May 2007
It should be obvious from the outset that this is one of those one-joke movies that will struggle to stretch the laughs out to feature-length proportions. It has the same effect as watching one of those Saturday Night Live sketches that seem funny at first but get dragged out way past the point where the humor has been exhausted and what remains is a sense of embarrassment for the actors.

The biggest problem is the huge suspension of disbelief required to accept – even at a basic, unrealistic level - the preposterous central idea. Although there have been real-life academic and journalistic shams, this film never pretends to be rooted in any kind of realism, but the material is so weak that even wringing slapstick out of it is a challenge, resulting in some kind of unfunny vacuum for the most part.

It's a shame that all concerned didn't attempt to do anything a little more serious with it. Scattered here and there in the script are some telling comments on the clash of cultures and relative benefits and drawbacks of two types of civilization – the hurried lives of cosmopolitan America and the more basic, living-with-nature life in rural South America. Even those few scraps are a wealth of depth compared to the awfully shallow "Jungle 2 Jungle."

The greatest mystery may be how such a quality cast was lured to such a substandard production. Dreyfuss does his best to carry the film – and this is a good exhibit for his merits as a comic actor, for few others could coax laughs out of such patchy material. Those around him do as well as can be expected, most notably some great lines from Phil Leeds in a cameo towards the end, which is one of the very few rewards for sticking with it to the closing credits.
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This is a family film?
Blueghost8 October 2004
I think not.

With all the adult references and situations in this thing I have a real hard time understanding why anyone would take their kid to see it. OK, it involves a "family," or rather a widower with three kids, but the buck stops there as far as so-called "family entertainment" goes. People taking their kids to see this film remind me of the same breed of parents who let their kids watch Spin City: The logic being they think it's funny, and because there's no nudity nor "gross" humor in it, it's therefore okay for kids to watch.

Wrong. Kids, like adults, understand words, phrases, gestures, but don't always comprehend their entire context (though they have a hint of the meaning). This is why we have things like Sex-Ed in our schools; to keep them from getting into trouble. But that's neither here nor there, because the films been out since 1998, and most people who were inclined to see it (with or without their children) already have.

As far as a movie on its own I'd give this thing a passing grade. It's really the kind of film that would've been made prior to 1970, where cross cultural understanding was just coming out of its infancy. The formula of a "lost tribe" is a vehicle used in classic comedies (TV and feature film) of eras gone by. In today's age of interconnectivity, just on the most basic level of common sense understanding, it's hard to imagine a tribe of people not having been contacted by modern society. But hey, it's a movie, so anything's possible.

It is a junk film on one level. The humor, for what it is, didn't need to be so blatant, obvious, and mildly blue. There was a real opportunity to create something here, but, as usual, the marketing "geniuses" probably got their hands on the script before either cast or crew, and dictated how many and what kind of jokes were to be in the film. I say that because I have a real hard time believing any intelligent screenwriter would write action and dialogue portrayed in this film... unless hey were a hack B-movie producer.

For all that the story's actually kind of likable, and the general look of the film (bright colors and well lit scenes) is rather pleasing. And the acting is actually quite good. Dreyfuss doing his usual high energy stuff is always fun to see. But the meat of the film, the actual words spoken, actions performed, and one disappointing and obnoxious prop protruding from Dreyfuss'es crotch, leaves much to be desired.

Frank Parkin and Charlie Peters are given the writing credits for this flick. To them I say "Don't quit your day job."
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one of the greatest films ever made
rspaur22 August 2004
To be brief, this is one of the all time funniest movies ever made. It is a laugh a minute. Anyone who has spent any time in a university will appreciate the farce of it all. Dreyfuss is at his best and Genna Elfman is terrific. The entire cast is probably the best type casting ever. Tom Postum is priceless as well as Lilly Tomlin. Get the DVD and spend many nights enjoying this movie over and over as each time you see it you will find something new and funny. The book is quite different which is a tribute to the writer of the screenplay for bringing us an American version that is family oriented as well as for adults. Truly you will be in for a delightful experience with this movie. It will take your mind off your troubles and laughter is a tonic.
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