Krippendorf's Tribe (1998)

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Released 21-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 90:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Todd Holland

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
Jenna Elfman
Natasha Lyonne
Gregory Smith
Carl Michael Lindner
Stephen Root
Elaine Stritch
Tom Poston
David Ogden Stiers
Lily Tomlin
Doris Belack
Julio Oscar Mechoso
Siobhan Fallon
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Bruce Broughton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     What was Richard Dreyfuss thinking? I just can't think of any reason that a wonderful performer who has a knack for picking subtle and interesting projects would link himself to the lame production that is Krippendorf's Tribe. The film starts out promisingly enough, with shaky home movie style footage revealing Dreyfuss' character, anthropologist James Krippendorf, with his family in the wilds of New Guinea. But as soon as the movie cuts to real time, the entire film deteriorates into a damp and unfunny farce which manages to make everyone look lame and weak and entirely unsympathetic.

     Following the death of his wife, Krippendorf has decidedly cracked up. He is alienated from his 3 children, Shelly (Natasha Lyonne), Mickey (Gregory Smith) and Edmund (Carl Michael Lindner), his life is a mess, and he has blown his $100,000 research grant without doing any work on a supposedly newly discovered New Guinean tribe. His comfortable misery is shattered with the arrival of perky young graduate professor Veronica Micelli (Jenna Elfman of Dharma & Greg fame), who glibly informs him that he is expected to deliver a lecture that night about his new discoveries.

     In the face of public humiliation and the very real danger of being convicted of theft for misappropriating the research grant, Krippendorf invents a fictitious tribe, named by a contraction of his children's names, the Shelmikedmu, and embarks on lurid descriptions of their radical social and sexual culture. His lecture is a triumph. Unfortunately, Micelli's media-savvy methods result in his imaginary tribe becoming a smash public curiosity with an insatiable demand for more information about the Shelmikedmu. Charged with providing the public with more information, Krippendorf enlists his reluctant children into recreating a New Guinean village in their backyard so he can film the tribe's unusual customs. Whilst the public and most in the anthropological world enthusiastically devour each new detail about the Shelmikedmu, one rival academic, Ruth Allen (Lily Tomlin) is far from convinced, and decides to travel to New Guinea to expose what she is convinced is an academic fraud. Things continue to spiral further and further out of control, as Krippendorf tries to find a way to extricate himself from his increasingly complicated lie.

     The characters in this film are, without exception, unsympathetic, uninteresting and unconvincing. The plot has little of substance beyond some rather tawdry sight gags, and the script is sluggish and without wit. Dreyfuss looks manic and disconnected, Elfman is too perky for words, and the only rare moments of spark are when Lily Tomlin and Dreyfuss spar in the early part of the film. The entire production feels long, laboured and horribly self-conscious, and by and large, it's rather a waste of talent.

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Transfer Quality


     This disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 not 16x9 enhanced.

     The presentation is slightly soft with a flattening of highlights and some low level noise present.

     The colour range is quite acceptable with good skin tones for the most part.

     There is some moiré present and mild aliasing. There are no significant dust spots or scratches and grain levels are acceptably low.

     This is single layered disc with no layer change present.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The soundtrack is delivered in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1.

     The dialogue is crisp, clean and easily audible, with no sync problems evident. The subtitles were clean, clear and accurate.

     The original music is okay but not particularly outstanding.

     The surround speakers provide some sense of soundscape, although the subwoofer was only mildly utilised.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The menu is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This appears to be identical to the R1 release, so the PAL rendition of R4 is the winner.


     Flat, dull and decidedly unfunny, this project seems to lack the conviction of the performers within it, and I can understand why.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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