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An Attempt at Savage Wit

In the end, a bit too much feel-good redemption has been injected into the farce, and you may walk out of the theater feeling vaguely cheated by your own chuckles: Here's a movie that could have been uncompromisingly funny--greatly funny, even--if only it didn't pull its punches and lose its polish. There are still many things to like here, including Tomlin's madcap fact-finding tour to the land of the Shelmikedmu (shot in Hawaii, actually) and the moviemakers' wonderfully jaundiced view of the unholy marriage between television and academia. But these comic savages aren't quite savage enough, and that makes all the difference.

Krippendorf's Tribe.
Screenplay by Charlie Peters, from a novel by Frank Parkin. Directed by Todd Holland. With Richard Dreyfuss, Jenna Elfman, Lily Tomlin, Natasha Lyonne, Gregory Smith and Carl Michael Lindner.

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