The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Originally The Emperor’s New Groove was a grand Disney formula flick known as The People of the Sun concerning the Aztecs and included six Sting songs. We would have had this “same old same old” if it weren’t for someone who courageously raised their hand and said “Isn’t this stupid?” God bless that person. The original theme was scrapped as well as all the songs excluding one. The patented Disney formula was ditched for a fast pace and zany antics that haven’t been seen from Disney hands since Aladdin.
The central message of Emp’s Groove is still a moral lesson – this one over vanity and self-centeredness. David Spade voices a young prince named Kuzco with no regard for any of his followers. He plans on building a special waterslide by destroying the village of Pancha (John Goodman). Spade’s scheming high priestess Yzma (Eartha Kitt) concocts a potion to kill the Emperor with the aid of her dim-witted but loyal assistant Kronk (Patrick Warbutton). Through a mix-up the potion doesn’t end up killing Kuzco but turning him into a llama. So now alive and trying to regain his throne Kuzco can only find help with Pancha, the one he had wronged earlier.
The vocal talents of the four leads are particularly inspired with Warbutton on a different plane of comedy. Warbutton provides the film’s biggest laughs and is a genuine master of timing and vocal inflections. When Disney sequelizes this straight to video (as they do everything now) I hope it centers on Warbutton’s Kronk character. Kitt is fun in an over-the-top parody and Spade provides delicious sarcasm so simply.
What’s being advertised as hilarity is more or less spotty. Some jokes work but others are full of tedium. There are stretches of tedium that shouldn’t be there for something with “zany antics.” Yet, the 15 minute ending is the best piece of the film with multiple comic payoffs.
The anti-Disney Disney movie is anti enough. the jokes need to come more often and it takes a while to truly get into. It has its moments but The Emperor’s New Groove is not new enough. Although, I’m thankful that we got what we did instead of what we could have.
Nate’s Grade: B-