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i can imagine how good krippendorf's tribe must have looked on paper .
it does not surprise me in the least that a group of extremely talented actors , led by the great richard dreyfuss and a good director ( todd holland ) , all wanted to make this film .
in fact , it is only the expertise by which this excruciatingly bad script has been executed that keeps me from suggesting that you stay as far away from krippendorf's tribe as possible .
in retrospect , i can imagine how bad this film could have been .
i shudder at the possibilities of awfulness had it starred an actor less able than dreyfuss .
dreyfuss plays james krippendorf , an anthropologist who is granted $100 , 000 by his university to find an undiscovered tribe in new guinea .
halfway into his two-year expedition , his wife ( apparently ) dies .
i say apparently because when or how she dies is never truly established .
later , we find out that much of the grant money was spent on big-screen tvs and other such pleasures .
so , when krippendorf finds out what happens to professors who do not use their grant money wisely , he decides to construct an elaborate lie .
he makes his own tribe , using his three children as actors in a video .
he simply makes up certain incredible facts about this tribe ( which he calls the shelmickedmu ) .
audiences at krippendorf's lectures are amazed by his findings that the shelmickedmu practice circumcision .
and proof that the typical family unit is led by a single father is truly amazing to the anthropological community .
like all films like this , the lie becomes more and more complex , and the suspense is generated with us wondering at what point it is all going to fall out from under our hero .
dreyfuss is a funny , talented man , and he is funny in this film .
he has lots of positive energy and , unlike most comical actors , really manages to play people like this realistically .
this film also requires a lot of physical humor that i've never seen dreyfuss perform , and he does a great job .
jenna elfman , who plays veronica mecilli , a scientist who wants in on krippendorf's work , is also very funny and appealing here .
and the kid actors are great , as well .
but we're talking about the script from hell .
this is one of those stories that requires such extreme suspension of disbelief that they might as well have established that the story just takes place in an alternate universe where things like this can happen .
but the ridiculousness of the story is not really what is so bad about it .
all the cliches and the irritating plot devices could have easily been overcome by dreyfuss and crew .
no , the script is plagued with so many clueless stereotypes and mean-spirited characters that i was in disbelief as i watched .
furthermore , the manor in which all of this material is covered up is truly shameless .
take , for instance , the scene in which krippendorf gets veronica drunk so he can tape them having sex .
they get all decked out in the tribe getup , complete with paint to darken their skin .
krippendorf does this because he needs footage of the mating rituals of his tribe .
now , i saw this scene coming from a mile away , but i said to myself , " no , that would be far too tasteless .
there's no way they'll do that . . . oh
god ! "
they did do it .
it's there .
i was almost more appalled by the fact that this didn't bother the other audience members with whom i saw this film .
i found it deplorable .
and when krippendorf is forced to admit that he did it , he simply apologizes without the slightest hint of conviction in his voice .
the film is filled with scenes like these .
they not only insult the audience , but they insult the types of people that the film portrays .
it would take some truly professional work to create videos convincing enough to fool an entire community of scientists , yet krippendorf does it easily in an afternoon .
and watching dreyfuss stumble over a completely unprepared speech is funny and entertaining , but i think that most members of the on-screen audience would be able to see that he is making everything up as he goes .
if i were an anthropologist , this film would insult me immensely .
moving right along , the film plays off every stereotype our culture has ever learned regarding african tribes .
sure , dreyfuss dressing up like a chief is really funny , and it allows for some entertaining scenes , but the heart of this material is deeply clueless as to the themes and thoughts that it provokes .
it is because of dreyfuss as an actor that i was able to watch this film .
his character here is not a good subject for a film because he is a shameless liar , and never once does he show any kind of penance for what he does .
i suppose it was interesting to see the formula defied in this case , but for the purposes of good taste , i would have expected something .
no , this man sets a terrible example for his kids and colleagues , and the writer of the film ( charlie peters ) didn't include a single scene in which krippendorf takes his kids aside and tells them that what he is doing is very bad .
in fact , it's his eldest daughter that frequently tells him that he is doing the wrong thing , and he continually shrugs off her warnings .
i suppose it's important to admit that this is a funny film .
dreyfuss and elfman , and many of the contrived and insulting scenes , add up to a picture that is anything but boring .
and if you're less serious than i , you probably will enjoy it .
i , however , can't get past these elements .
krippendorf's tribe is being marketed as a family comedy , but this is the kind of film that teaches the kids of our society faulty lessons that they shouldn't be learning .
with a little more insight into its story and themes , this could have been a good movie .
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