A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Is it possible to recommend a whole comedy on the basis of one scene that made you laugh almost uncontrollably? I fear not. And yet "Krippendorf's Tribe'' has such a scene, and many comedies have none. I was reminded of the dead parakeet that had its head taped back on, in "Dumb And Dumber.'' A scene like that can redeem a lot of down time.
The scene in "Krippendorf's Tribe'' involves the backyard fakery of a primitive circumcision ritual. But I am getting ahead of the story. The movie stars Richard Dreyfuss as James Krippendorf, an anthropologist who has gone to New Guinea, failed to find a lost tribe and returned to his campus, having spent all of his grant money. Now it is time to produce results, of which he has none.
Krippendorf does have two small sons and a teenage daughter; his wife died in New Guinea, but she's handled so remotely in the film that I wonder why they bothered with her. No matter. Back home, Krippendorf has descended into sloth of despond, and pads about the house aimlessly. Then an enthusiastic colleague named Veronica, played with zest and wit by Jenna Elfman, pounds on his door with a reminder that he is expected to lecture on his findings that very night.
Krippendorf's lack of any findings takes on a whole new meaning when his department head informs him that a colleague will do prison time for misappropriating grant money. Terrified, Krippendorf improvises a lecture in which he claims to have found a lost tribe. He even produces one of its artifacts--a sexual aid, he claims, although sharp eyes might recognize it as a toy space shuttle. It belongs to one of his sons, who left it in the oven.