The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

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"If you slip, we both slip. So er... don't slip."
“If you slip, we both slip. So er… don’t slip.”

Twitter Plot Summary: 18 year old Emperor Kuzco has to learn humility and all that jazz after he’s turned into a llama and deposed by the evil Yzma.

Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy/Family/Fantasy

Director: Mark Dindal

Key Cast: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Wendy Malick, Bob Bergen

Five Point Summary:

1. Tom Jones as Theme Song Guy! Boom!
2. Well she’s clearly a villain…
3. Hah, a reference to The Fly.
4. That deadpan waitress is awesome. Mazel tov.
5. And lo, balance is restored.

What other film in recent memory starts with an omniscient emperor who starts off narrating and appearing as a llama? The only one that springs to mind is this, The Emperor’s New Groove and the 40th Disney Animated Classic. Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) is the young emperor of the Inca Empire and has selfish plans to destroy a small mountain village so he can build himself a summer home. Shortly thereafter he’s accidentally turned into a llama by his advisor Yzma (Eartha Kitt) and her lovably dim assistant Kronk (Patrick Warburton). The original plan was to kill Kuzco, but a mix-up in potions leads to him getting the llama one instead.

It’s another of Disney’s classic tales of the main character going on a journey of discovery. Emperor Kuzco starts off as a self-obsessed, self-important Emperor and, via the machinations of the evil Yzma he learns how to be a better person, etc etc. Standard Disney fare then. Unlike most of Disney’s output this is a lot wackier and whimsical than expected, and it also has a distinct lack of musical numbers, which is odd but doesn’t spoil it in any way. Thankfully it’s packed with jokes, which are consistently funny and more than make up for the lack of song and dance routines.

"Hmm, which one do I choose..."
“Hmm, which one do I choose…”

This is typical of Disney’s late 90s/early 00s output, in that it’s traditional 2D animation in a time before 3D animation became industry standard. It’s stylistically along the same lines as Hercules and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. In other words the pinnacle of 2D animation, at least as far as Western animation is concerned. It’s gloriously animated and the voice cast is spectacular – John Goodman does his modern day Phil Harris routine as Pacha, whilst Patrick Warburton is delightfully dim as Kronk. Then there’s Eartha Kitt’s Yzma, forged from the same evil ironworks as Cruella De Vil and the Evil Queen from Snow White, or that woman from The Rescuers. The pairing of David Spade and John Goodman is entertaining, but it’s Kronk who for me who wins the “Best Character” and “Most Entertaining” awards. He’s delightfully dumb and played to perfection by Patrick Warburton. It’s no surprise that he was the focus of the straight to video/DVD sequel in 2005.

It seems that the film had a lot of trouble in reaching the big screen, to the point where this film is a much scaled down version of what they had originally planned. If anything it’s impressive that they were able to make a coherent story despite all the problems the production faced, and the fact it’s still entertaining is another bonus. If anything it’s a touch too short and the relationship between Pacha and Kuzco isn’t as developed as previous Disney buddy pairings. If you really wanted to be harsh you could pick out a number of influences from a myriad of earlier Disney films, but that would be needlessly picky. Let’s just be thankful that the film works despite the production issues.

Favourite scene: The diner – lots of gags and a deadpan waitress.

Quote: “This isn’t poison! This is extract of…….. LLAMA!”

Silly Moment: Attacked by leopards, bats and scorpions within 2 minutes. Still funny though.

Score: 4/5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_YjSbp5KHM

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