The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
Review Date: December 09, 2000
Director: Mark Dindal
Writer: David Reynolds
Producers: Randy Fullmer
A stuck-up emperor with an evil advisor gets turned into a lama after some of his selfish behavior gets out of hand. Stuck in the middle of the jungle, the great leader must ask for assistance from a lowly peasant. The duo attempt to get back to the palace, so that the emperor could be returned to his former self.
Not as ambitious as many of Disney's other animation flicks, but definitely one of its funniest. It's not the animation that will blow anyone away with this movie, it's actually very basic, and it's not the music or the score, both of which are also very standard. It's the four lead characters that are a blast and despite a ho-hum story, the charm and humor built into these characters, draws you in and allows you to have a mucho good time! First there's David Spade, perfectly cast as the sarcastic emperor with an attitude to kill. No doubt that Spade used some of his own improvisational skills to make this character even more cold-hearted (Bu-bye!). The commoner, voiced by John Goodman, a great ying to Spade's yang. A nice guy with a cute family to whom anyone should be able to relate. Not an over-the-top character, but one with enough morals to balance the lack thereof in Spade's emperor. A great straight man. There's also the evil Yzma, who actually plays out a complete person, with humor, thoughtfulness and more than the usual one dimension. And the best surprise of all, and easily the second funniest character after the lead, Kronk, the dumb-guy side-kick, who looks exactly like Bruce Campbell from the EVIL DEAD movies, and delivers many of the film's most uproarious lines. I just couldn't help but laugh at everything that this guy did and said. They could make a movie out of this guy alone!
The film also includes plenty of pratfalls for the kids (a la Road Runner), sarcastic adult remarks for the parents joining the young ones in the theatres and no musical interludes at any point...yes, that's right, no one breaks out into a Broadway tune every five minutes. There's also a self-referential narration by the lead character that works and is original. Very unexpected to see a Disney film being stopped halfway by a character wanting to make a point about something. Funny shtuff. The film doesn't have any major action scenes either, but the last twenty minutes should give everyone a hoot and a holler to take home. And it's like I said earlier, very little ambition in this movie. The story is a very simple one, the emperor gets turned into a lama and he now wants to get back to the palace to return to his old self, end of story. But every other line in the film is laced with sarcasm or dry wit and I just love that kind of humor. This film may definitely not be for everyone, much like Spade's own humor, but I certainly thought it was worthy of its quick 75 minute runtime. Go with the kids, I doubt that you'll regret it. Not a classic, not a keeper but definitely a very funny movie with great new characters. The title still stinks though.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian