Despite an extremely simplistic plot, Krippendorf’s Tribe (Touchstone Pictures) gives the audience a reason to laugh.
Professor James Krippendorf (Richard Dreyfuss, Mr. Holland’s Opus) is a single father of three on his way to a nervous breakdown. Krippendorf must deliver a lecture on a tribe he discovered in New Guinea. The only problem is he hasn’t actually discovered a new tribe.
Instead of using the money granted him for research, he uses it to raise his kids. With the help of his children, Krippendorf invents a new tribe. The remainder of the movie is a hilarious ride with Krippendorf’s tribe, the Shelmikedmu.
Starring opposite Dreyfuss is Hollywood newcomer Jenna Elfman. She stars in ABC’s hit sitcom, “Dharma and Greg.” Elfman plays Veronica Micelli, a professor and former student of Krippendorf, who is completely enamored with him.
From the onset of the film, Dreyfuss and Elfman develop a surprising chemistry. Annoying Micelli constantly is cut down by Krippendorf’s wit.
The actors portray their characters well, which is unusual for a family-style comedy. Lily Tomlin (“Murphy Brown”) is excellent as Ruth Alien, Krippendorf’s rival professor. Alien immediately is skeptical of the tribe Krippendorf discovered and is intent on uncovering his lie.
Three relatively unknown actors play Krippendorf’s children, but give excellent performances. Natasha Lyonne (Shelly Krippendorf) almost steals the movie as the eldest child and only girl. Lyonne next will appear opposite Marisa Tomei in The Slums of Beverly Hills.
With the help of outrageous costumes and extremely colorful body paint, Krippendorf’s Tribe is, at times, downright hilarious. The movie’s plot is absurd, but serious drama isn’t what the film wants to accomplish. One needs to take the film for what it’s worth. Krippendorf’s Tribe is a silly, feel-good family comedy that tickles the funny bone.Krippendorf’s Tribe is now playing.