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IN SHORT: Below the belt belly laughs.
We've seen it on TV and now we see it on the big screen. Jenna Elfman is so damn perky that you better not cross her or you're gonna get your tuchas yanked out through yer mouth. Which is just about the story for poor ol' Professor James Krippendorf (Richard Dreyfuss) in Krippendorf's Tribe, a feel good flick with some very funny below the belt humor.
Which is all this story, about a widower anthropology professor almost caught misspending his research grant money, is. If you've seen the commercials, you have a pretty good idea how low the humor is and have probably made up your mind. That being the case, Cranky fount Krippendorf's Tribe to be a ludicrous and funny romp through white bread academia and society. By the time it collapses under it's own weight, you're out the door, poorer for only the price of the ticket and snacks. That's kind of steep considering that, save for the language, you could have seen this flick done for TV.
The sitch: Krippendorf's wife was the smart one. She wrote the grant proposals. She did most of the work. She raised the three kids in the jungles of New Guinea. Since her death, the youngest child has stopped talking. The eldest daughter has turned angry and the middle son has shown a real knack for making up wild stories of the family adventures in the jungle. Which is a good thing when it comes time for the good Professor to present his findings at the University. Having none, he does the only thing a man can do. He makes it up.
At his presentation, rival professor Ruth Allen (Lily Tomlin) and money conscious Dean Gerald Adams (Stephen Root of TV's NewsRadio) wait on his every word. One to bury him the other to praise him.
Also in the peanut gallery are the incredibly enthusiastic ex- student (now Professor) Veronica Micelli (Elfman) and cable network owner Henry Spivey (David Ogden Stiers), who smells big bucks in the "discovery" of the previously unknown Shelmikedmu tribe. When Krippendorf is asked to produce film of his discovery, he creates it in his own backyard.
In the movie, nasty grandparents, aged benefactors, a strained romance and more well written sex humor than Cranky's seen in a long time keep everything moving right along at a painless pace.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Krippendorf's Tribe, he would have paid...
As date flicks go, it's probably a buck higher on the scale. But Cranky walked out feeling like he'd just eaten cotton candy. Good then, not missed now. Still fun, though.
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