The Emperor's New Groove
Directed by Mark Dindal
Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's Christmas / Chanukah / Kwanzaa time and that means it's time for a Disney animated feature. After the beauty of Mulan and the computer wizardry of Toy Story 2, the folks at Disney bring us the bizarre but passable The Emperor's New Groove.
The plot is different from the average Disney fare, although it does involve the basic life-changing journey. Self-centered Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) fires his advisor, the "indescribably evil" Yzma (Eartha Kitt). Yzma and her henchman / boy toy, Kronk (Patrick Warburton), plot to poison Kuzco, but due to a mishap, Kuzco is not killed by the poison. Instead, he is turned into a llama and accidentally taken out of the city by Pacha, a noble and large peasant (John Goodman). Pacha and Kuzco travel back to the palace and during this journey Kuzco becomes a better llama and ultimately a better person.
The tone of the story and the animation is generally wacky with lots of visual puns and tongue-in-cheek dialogue. The villianess Yzma has a lab which she enters through a roller-coaster-like ride. At the end of the ride the passengers appear in the lab fully decked out in evil scientist gear. Yzma and the other characters refer to this place as the "secret evil lab." The film is chock full of such silliness and self-referential statements, and is at its best when it is being silly. Yzma and Kronk are delightfully funny, hilariously drawn, and perfectly voiced by Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton.
The movie fails when it becomes overly sentimental with the excruciatingly noble Pacha or unbearably obnoxious with the totally unlikable Kuzco. The danger in making a film about a self-centered jerk is that the character will irritate rather than entertain the audience. Kuzco comes close to doing just that, especially while narrating the first half of the film. Strangely, when Kuzco becomes nicer and more likeable he stops narrating the film.
Still, the film is enjoyable and the kids in the theatre applauded the day I saw it, although the older gentleman next to me complained and moaned through the entire film.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings