The Emperor's New Groove

"Good"

The Emperor's New Groove Review


How does Disney do it? How does the studio keep cranking out these cartoons that are so wildly entertaining and seemingly fresh even though it uses the same ingredients year after year?

"The Emperor's New Groove" has all the off-the-shelf elements of your standard Disney 'toon: Beady-eyed baddie? Check! Incompetent henchman? Check. Historical locale and/or exotic cultural setting? Check. Wisecracking animal sidekick? Check. Doofus male lead? Check.

Yet here I am again, absolutely loving this latest assembly line production because it's sprightly, clever and fun, fun, fun.

David Spade, whose snide and whiny routine usually annoys me no end, is perfectly cast as the voice of Kuzco, the spoiled brat monarch of an ancient Peruvian empire. Showing off how the whole world revolves around him, in the opening scene he looks into the audience and says "Watch this!"

"Butler!" he hollers, and instantly a (ancient Peruvian) butler comes running. "Cook!" he shouts, and a feast appears before him. "Theme song guy!" There's an animated version of Tom Jones, belting out a show tune (one of just two musical number in the movie).

Snotty egoist that he is, Kuzco isn't evil. He just has some lessons to learn -- he's a Disney cartoon hero after all. But his nefarious court magician is evil -- and arguably one of the great Disney villains. Her name is Yzma, she has that sucked-dry skin-and-bones look of a age-ravaged fashion maven (think Helen Gurley Brown crossed with Cruella DeVil) and the how-apropos voice of Eartha Kitt.

Yzma tries to kill Kuzco with poisoned wine so she can usurp his throne. But her bumbling, broad-shouldered, lantern-jawed lackey Kronk (Patrick Warburton -- Puddy on "Siendfeld" -- another stroke of genius voice casting) mixed up the poison with a potion that turns the emperor into a llama instead.

Trying to dispose of the evidence, Kronk dumps the animal outside the city, where llama Kuzco, very busy feeling sorry for himself, meets up with a peasant named Pacha (John Goodman) whose village the emperor was going to level to build himself a summer home.

Reluctantly Pacha agrees to help Kuzco get his throne back as long he doesn't destroy the village -- a promise Kuzco makes and breaks more than once in their adventurous journey back to the city.

What sets "New Groove" apart from other recent Disney cartoons is its hilariously self-aware sense of humor. Kuzco narrates the film himself in an attempt to persuade the audience he's just a misunderstood nice guy who did nothing to deserve this four-legged fate. When the story focuses in on Pacha, he freeze-frames the picture, reminding the audience "this movie is about me!" while scratching his companion out of the frame with a red marker.

This kind of comedy runs throughout the movie, as do Spade's sometimes droll, sometimes bleating ad-libs that make Kuzco feel even more like the sarcastic but pampered teenager that he is.

The animation is as seamless as we've come to expect from Disney, and Kuzco's llama face is so fantastically expressive that several good laughs come just from his blubbery mugging.

"The Emperor's New Groove" has a few minor shortcomings. Spade's dialogue ("gettin' down with my bad self!") will date the movie badly in years to come and the setting of aboriginal Peru seems almost random -- no attempt is made to enfold the culture into the story, as was done with "Mulan's" ancient China backdrop.

But while "New Groove" may not be a timeless animated masterpiece like "Beauty and the Beast," even with its recycled elements and its oh-so-Y2K airs, it's definitely the funniest and most seat-bouncingly fun of any animated feature since Disney revived the medium with "The Little Mermaid."



The Emperor's New Groove

Facts and Figures

Run time: 78 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th December 2000

Box Office USA: $87.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $169.3M

Budget: $100M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Feature Animation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 19

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Mark Dindal

Starring: as Kuzco, Michael Herbig as Kuzco, as Patcha, Reinhard Brock as Patcha, as Yzma, as Yzma, as Kronk, Thomas Amper as Kronk, as Chicha, Pacha's Wife, Kellyann Kelso as Chaca, Pacha's Daughter, Eli Russell Linnetz as Tipo, Pacha's Son, as Theme Song Guy, Stephen J. Anderson as Stephen J. Anderson, as Bucky the Squirrel, Patti Deutsch as Waitress, as Old Man

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.