Movie Magazine International

Krippendorf's Tribe

USA -1998

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

"Krippendorf's Tribe" has Richard Dreyfuss performing the acting triumph of not looking embarrassed in a film that promotes retro gender roles, squishy moral values, and the penis sheath. If this weren't supposed to be a family flick, it might just have worked.

Dreyfuss plays Krippendorf, a college professor with a dead wife, three unhappy kids, and nothing to show for the grant money that he took to study tribes in New Guinea. Caught between a nervous breakdown and the threat of prison, Krippendorf starts making stuff up, great stuff, full of family values and sex. Next thing you know, he's a media darling and merchandise maven with his own cable show.

Unfortunately, the only way for him to continue to avoid prosecution is to keep making videos of the non-existent tribe for his show. He does this in his backyard, where, of course, no neighbors will notice, with the help of his blue-eyed kids, whom he covers in mud and strategically placed leaves.

For reasons that have more to do with stirring up prurient interest than developing a plot, Krippendorf gets a gal pal drunk, dresses her up in native garb and then films their, ahem, mating ritual. Now, get this. When she sees the film on television, she doesn't kill him. She doesn't maim him. She doesn't even sue him. Oh no. She helps him to perpetuate the scam and then proceeds to mash out with him.

Then there's Lily Tomlin, whose sense of humor may have been injured in a freak accident. She plays Krippendorf's monkey-toting arch-rival, conceived as the stereotypical career gal, which is to say bitter, vindictive, and possibly a lesbian to judge by the female companion clinging to her almost as tightly as the monkey. Until Lily gets to the jungles of New Guinea, when, because we should never let consistency stand in the way of a lame joke, she begins to lust for her extremely male guide.

Here are the lessons of "Krippendorf's Tribe." It's okay to make your kids co-conspirators in fraud. It will bring you closer together as a family. It's okay to invade the sexual privacy of your friends. It will bring your closer together in the biblical sense. And, most of all, it's okay to insult your audience's intelligence. It will bring them together with a common purpose - running for the exit.

© 1998 - Andrea Chase - Air Date: 2/25/98

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