Picks and Pans Review: Krippendorf's Tribe

updated 03/09/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/09/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Richard Dreyfuss, Jenna Elfman

The anthropologist hero (Dreyfuss) of Krippendorf's Tribe, a comedy, makes a big whopper of a discovery when his three kids misbehave at a McDonald's. "You're a bunch of savages," he yells. Before long, Dreyfuss, a widower, and his kids are slathering on mud, dressing up in animal skins and grass skirts and prancing around the backyard acting like, well, savages. He's filming all this to back up his spurious claims—made after he has frittered away a $100,000 research grant—that he found an undiscovered tribe in New Guinea. Soon, both love (in the comely form of Elfman, a dippy fellow anthropologist) and fame have come Dreyfuss's way, though a rival (Lily Tomlin, in a throwaway part) tries her best to discredit him.

Krippendorf's Tribe has its moments, but much of the humor is too smuttily adult (circumcision and phallic jokes) for kids. Dreyfuss, one of the few stars today who can convincingly play an academic, sputters and struts amusingly while Elfman (Dharma & Greg) unashamedly makes like Lucille Ball in a grass skirt. (PG-13)

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