I was dead wrong about all of those things.
The Emperor's New Groove is funny. Damn funny. And the cute characters in the film are the dangerous ones. The script is fast and furious, with no singing and dancing. The animation is clean and would give Walt a warm feeling all over. The humor is dry and aimed at both the cynicism and the goodness in all of us. The story is ridiculously weird and comes off as a strange acid trip involving talking, cross-dressing llamas and schizophrenia.
Here's the plot; try to follow along. Set in a mythical kingdom, the film follows the adventures of Kuzco (David Spade), an arrogant and egocentric emperor. When Kuzco fires his power-hungry advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), she and her "assistant" Kronk (Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton) change him into a llama. Kuzco then gets stranded in the jungle and must rely on Pacha (John Goodman), a llama-herder whose home was to be replaced by Kuzco's Water World Theme Park, to save him. Then the fun starts.
For the next sixty minutes, the audience is treated to something unheard of in Disney films these days: Imagination. Yzma, voiced by the talented singer Eartha Kitt, looks like a cross between Norma Desmond, Joan Crawford, and a really old Vegas showgirl. The dialogue between her and her oblivious assistant Kronk is quick, sharp, and feels like an episode of Seinfeld (which would make sense). David Spade and John Goodman's character interactions make you feel like you're watching an old Hope/Crosby film. Spade is beyond dry with his humor and shoots below the belt on several occasions, and I laughed out loud several times. Needless to say, that is an extremely rare thing in Disney screenings these days.
The best part about The Emperor's New Groove is how audacious the film is. The sheer weirdness factor is very high. Cross-dressing, schizophrenia, duality of soul, people being turned into every animal on Noah's boat, llama CPR, homoerotic tendencies, an Emperor with his own theme song and singer, Michael Jackson dance moves, and a guy that can communicate with a squirrel are only a few of the oddities that make the film a true orginal.
Simply put, The Emperor's New Groove is one of the best children's films out for this holiday season. Kids will enjoy the adventures, and parents will enjoy the story and dialogue. That's a tough thing to pull off in a single package, but this Emperor manages to do it.
The Ultimate double-disc DVD release of the film goes it one better, with an audio commentary track and a goofy trivia game on disc one, and an in-depth making-of track on disc two (a la the DVD for A Bug's Life) that also includes a few roughed-out deleted scenes. Perhaps most interesting is seeing the evolution of Groove from an oh-so-serious flick called Kingdom of the Sun to its eventual end product. Fair warning -- the second disc takes forever to switch between menus and video, so you may be watching for quite a while...
The New Groove edition is basically a stripped-down version of the two-disc set with a full disc of extras taken out of it.
Run time: 78 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th December 2000
Box Office USA: $87.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $169.3M
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Feature Animation
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 19
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: Mark Dindal
Producer: Randy Fullmer
Screenwriter: David Reynolds
Starring: David Spade as Kuzco, Michael Herbig as Kuzco, John Goodman as Patcha, Reinhard Brock as Patcha, Eartha Kitt as Yzma, Elke Sommer as Yzma, Patrick Warburton as Kronk, Thomas Amper as Kronk, Wendie Malick as Chicha, Pacha's Wife, Kellyann Kelso as Chaca, Pacha's Daughter, Eli Russell Linnetz as Tipo, Pacha's Son, Tom Jones as Theme Song Guy, Stephen J. Anderson as Stephen J. Anderson, Bob Bergen as Bucky the Squirrel, Patti Deutsch as Waitress, John Fiedler as Old Man
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