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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.75%
Average: 11.25%
Pretty Bad: 2.5%
Total Crap: 3.75%

5 reviews, 50 user ratings

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Emperor's New Groove, The
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by Erik Childress

"Great Third Act and Single Character Save 'Groove'"
4 stars

The Emperorís New Groove was a hard pill to swallow. When you produce the kind of standard-setting animated tales that Walt Disney Studios does on a yearly basis, audiences are usually beholden to something glorious. A great story (sometimes a reworked classic) combined with the latest and greatest style of animation always amounted to a pleasant theater experience. That experience was conspicuously absent during many scenes of their latest, but thanks to a funnier-than-thou third act and one great character, Iím able to give it a marginal recommendation.

Based on an original story and set in a fictitious time and place, we meet the young, egocentric emperor, Kuzco (voiced by David Spade). So full of himself is he that he comes equipped with his own live theme music (by Tom Jones) and a high-level throne that reminds us of Andy Kaufmanís desk on his Soundstage talk show parody. His entire Empire staff is an understatement in long-suffering and one of them isnít going to take it anymore. Kuzcoís advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), looking like a cross between Cruella DeVille and the alter-ego of Snow Whiteís queen, sets out to dethrone him by means of the poisoned potion. Failing to send his ego into the next life, Yzma ends up turning him into a llama.

Up to this point, weíre smack-dab in the center of classic fairy tale land. Full-of-himself leader must learn a moral lesson before we hear ďThe End.Ē To guide him on that moral crusade is the one nice person we can get behind at this point and thatís Pacha (John Goodman). Heís a good-hearted peasant, the common family man; not happy with Kuzco planning to scorch his earth to make room for a summer home with a pool and waterslide. After being thrown out of the kingdom, Kuzco agrees to rethink his development plans (with more than just his fingers crossed) for Pachaís assistance in reclaiming his title. And no, Pacha is not the one great character I was referring to.

That would be Kronk. Voiced by Patrick Warburton (Seinfeldís David Puddy), Kronk is the kind of great supporting character that gets nomination notices in live-action films. He is Yzmaís right-hand man, a well-intentioned lovable dufus who always manages to mess things up for his evil boss. Not a minute goes by in The Emperorís New Groove, where I wasnít laughing deliriously at him or wishing he were on-screen every one of those minutes.

But the story must get back to its lesson for the spoiled, shifting between Kuzco and Pachaís quest for the castle and Yzma & Kronkís attempt to stop them. Itís just hard to support Emperor Llama, because heís just so unlikable throughout two-thirds of the film. David Spade is very funny But in human form where it works where we can see his facial expressions and the tinge of humanity lying underneath that assures us that its all just jokes. That worked well on Saturday Night Live, Tommy Boy and currently on TVís Just Shoot Me. But with a disembodied voice, subjected to even narrating the film, his smarminess comes off as just that and the early material isnít good enough to save it.

But Kronk always comes back for us, reminding us how inherently goofy the filmís tone really is. There are great, funny stopovers at a diner and a literal stop of the film for Kuzco to remind us the film is really about him (the only time his smugness works). Though the film really kicks into overdrive during its final 20 minutes, one thrilling and comical moment after another and saves what had been merely a so-so piece.

Itís always distracting when Disney takes a step back in the animation department. Whether itís a stylistic choice or mere laziness, traveling back to an old-school mentality after the breakthroughs of Dinosaur and Tarzan is as intrusive as the Gershwin segment after the flying whales in Fantasia 2000. Where in Dinosaur the animation had to trump the weak story, the roles are reversed here with Disney playing a Must See TV mentality instead of the usual cliff-noted masterpiece theaters. And in the end, even with every character getting a Jay Leno-like chin, it works.

Rarely do audiences get to see a simple light animated tale anymore. So much time and effort is put into each frame that their screenplays tend to be more thought out, deeper AND funnier. The Emperorís New Groove is like that, a small gust of wind in an animated tornado, something that you enjoy for a moment but not remember for too long. What I will remember about the film is Kronk, a character who in the true tradition of Must See TV deserves his own movie and Iíll be first in line. Single-handedly, he makes The Emperorís New Groove worth seeing.

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originally posted: 12/11/00 09:03:36
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User Comments

10/05/13 KingNeutron Despite prod problems, Great for a laugh; very rewatchable. Spade/Warburton/Kitt nailed it. 5 stars
10/20/11 Magic A conflicted production results in one of Disney's funniest movies ever. Kronk alone, whoa. 4 stars
2/20/11 Ark Hilarious! Once in a while Disney screws up and gives us something good! 5 stars
2/14/11 Quigley The funniest movie ever made; no joke. This film is criminally underrated. Ten stars! 5 stars
8/30/09 CTT Warburton and Kitt steal the film; hilarious stuff 5 stars
12/11/08 Dominic YZMA looks like LADY TREMAINE,MALIFICENT and URSULA. 5 stars
11/01/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 5 stars
9/02/06 Chad Thomas One of the funniest animated movies ever! 5 stars
8/19/06 Beau All-time fav disney movie, very comimcal and entertaining, not just for kids!!!! 5 stars
7/12/06 David Cohen This is what happens when commedies try to be hip instead of funny 3 stars
5/23/06 Ashley Hinz I hated it, just a waste of time. 1 stars
4/26/06 timoth1212 AWESOME COOL SWEET AND ALL THE OTHER NAMES MEANING REALLY GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer They turned their "Kingdom of the Sun" project into this... AND I LOVE IT! BOO-YAH!!!! 5 stars
8/30/05 ES Laughter but no redeeming qualities, not as bad as Mulan 3 stars
7/03/05 Quigley Totally funny. what do you people have against this anyway? disney got it right this time! 5 stars
1/28/05 Jack Scallops Worth the $3.50 5 stars
1/16/05 conor the great hilarious... why doesn't Disney do more like this? 4 stars
7/24/04 Sarah If only Disney would make them all like this! 5 stars
7/18/04 Nate It's good to see Disney trying something new 5 stars
5/20/04 John Disney has sunk to this?! 1 stars
5/13/04 Sean Scanlan close, but no Doug's First Movie 4 stars
5/11/04 J.Peckerfoot Great fun for all the fuckin family.Thankyou Kronk! 5 stars
4/29/04 merv someone needs to lay off the crack! 5 stars
11/28/03 Samuel A very funny cartoon, Spade is awesome!! 5 stars
8/30/02 Interrog8 KRONK! Need I say more? 5 stars
8/05/02 LessThanColleen Okay, I'm almost 15 and this was great! Love Kronk! (Reason #2, look what I can do) lol 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Loved it! How wonderful to hear Eartha's gravelly voice. 5 stars
1/02/02 Andrew Carden I Liked Land Before Time #6 Better Then This. 1 stars
12/16/01 Jeremy I laughed but I didnt piss my pants and it was funny (very) 5 stars
9/30/01 daniboy best disney movie in years. laughed my ass off 5 stars
7/01/01 ALEXIS Hey I'm also 15 and this is one of my favorite movies!! it kicks ass, so does David Spade! 5 stars
6/29/01 Geebo I'm also 15, and okay Kronk. Kronk ruled. He was awesome, Nothing can compare. 5 stars
6/01/01 Melody Gordon Ths movie is awsome!!! I'm 15 and I love to watc it all the time!!!! 5 stars
5/18/01 Wendy Gayle Walkup-Barry I loved it!!!! So did my daughter :) 5 stars
4/07/01 viking Well, at least it's an original idea free of schmaltz !!! 4 stars
1/29/01 Mario Rodgers What a bunch of grouches. This movie was brilliant! Stop saying the animation was weak. 5 stars
1/16/01 bats surprised by the sharp writing and humor 4 stars
1/12/01 Gariess A cartoon is a cartoon. Why do we expect effects and animation to entertain us? leave it fo 2 stars
1/12/01 McArthur Student Simply one of disneys best! 5 stars
1/11/01 Who? Great movie, better than all disney movies since "Lion King", or maybe even more 5 stars
1/03/01 FrayLo Not bad, sure as hell more entertaining than sitting through "Dude, Where's My Car?" 4 stars
1/03/01 The Bomb 69 animation was weak and the beginning was slow but the last 20 minutes made up for it 4 stars
1/02/01 Tonka Lightweight and hilarious, especially the last 20 minutes. Eartha Kitt is the best villain 5 stars
12/29/00 Dippy Better than you think! 5 stars
12/24/00 Reverend Krule i'm sick of sittin' through disney shit 2 stars
12/19/00 orpy I was prepared to hate it; it was not bad!! 4 stars
12/16/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble New Groove? I wonder how many blacks worked on this film? None I'll bet. 3 stars
12/16/00 Paul Putman It was such a homage to Chuck Jones that I missed the Disney magic. 4 stars
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  15-Dec-2000 (G)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005


  05-Apr-2001 (G)

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